Matt McCarten makes the point the largest party will not necessarily get to govern (even though this has been the case to date).
Despite the polls, no strategist believes that National can win a majority of votes in its own right at the next election. Third parties always rise at the expense of the big ones during the campaign proper.
While Matt is right to say that few, if any, think National can win a majority of votes, I will take issue with his statement that third parties always rise at the expense of the big ones.
Back in August I explored this commonly held view. The emperical evidence was not that strong:
So the assertion that minor parties pick up support in the campaign period from major parties is far from a rule. It has only conclusively been true once in 2002. It was partly true in 1999 but false in 1996 and 2005.
So remember to challenge such assertions when made.
As I said, I don’t disagree that National gettingover 50% of the votes in the election is unlikely. However also worth remembering that with wasted votes, 47% or more might be enough to give you over 50% of the seats!
As I have consistently said all year, the key party in all of this is the Maori Party. Essentially, they are an electorate party and their nationwide party list polling is irrelevant. They currently hold four seats and, quite likely, will win five if not all seven Maori seats at the next election.
It has been interesting to observe the attitudes of many within National to potential coalition partners. Up until six months ago the strong consensus was that ACT and United Future would be very desirable partners, and then say NZ First and then Maori Party.
There is palpable anger at United Future’s stance over the Electoral Finance Act (despite the last second vote change) and I hear more and more members saying that if National had a choice between doing a deal with the Maori Party or United Future, they should choose the Maori Party.
Of course the result might be that National needs both United Future and the Maori Party, and pragmatism is a strong force. Interestingly Chris Trotter had a column a few days ago on how Hone Harawira’s speech on the Electoral Finance Bill seemed to indicate to him that the chance of Maori Party supporting a 4th term for Labour was fairly remote.