National Party candidate Melissa Lee says second place is the best she can hope for in the upcoming Mt Albert by-election. …
Ms Lee today told Radio New Zealand she expected to lose and hoped she could come second. …
“I think my chances are fairly good. It’s been 63 years in the hands of Labour, so you know I wasn’t expecting to romp in and actually win this,” Ms Lee said.
Asked if she thought she could come second she said she was hoping to.
“It would be really fantastic if I nudge in a little further as well but I am not expecting to win. It was always going to be a hard battle.”
While no doubt truthful, this is a serious error of judgement. A major party candidate should never state that they do not expect to win – well not in a by-election anyway.
If one wants to manage expectations, then you let others do that for you. But again a major party candidate should not ever say they do not expect to win.
There are many reasons for this. To take just a few:
- How the hell do you expect party volunteers, colleagues, and your campaign team to keep campaigning, when you have said you don’t think you can win. This is a winner takes all by-election – there is no party vote up for grabs.
- Just as seriously what message does send to your voters? This can be a seriously self-fulfilling prophecy – National voters will not bother to vote if they think there is no purpose in doing so.
- It effectively concedes despite three weeks to go. The Labour candidate had just himself had two rocky days himself and was showing vulnerabilities. A lot can happen in three weeks.
- It encourages the minor parties to cannibalise your vote – you have said you don’t expect to win, so they will try and grab anti-Labour voters off you with more vigour.
I actually regard this as a bigger blunder than the South Auckland crime remarks. They at least were said in the heat of a public meeting. This was said in a radio interview where some lines should have been pre-prepared. Acceptable lines would be:
- “Labour have held this seat for 70 years and it is a tough challenge, but I don’t think any party can take the voters for granted, and I’m want to make sure they have the chance to elect a National MP”; or
- “This was Labour’s safest seat and not been held by National before, but I want to win the seat and I would never pre-judge what the voters will decide”
There are many ways you can indicate that it is unlikely you will win, without stating you don’t expect to win which is a real no no.
UPDATE: NZPA now report:
National Party candidate for Mt Albert Melissa Lee says she does want to win the by-election, despite earlier saying she was hoping and expecting to come second….
Asked directly if she expected to come second she answered: “yes”.
Ms Lee said she was talking about the media expectation, not her own.
“I am not in this game to lose,” she said.
NZPA put it to her the radio interview er did not discuss media expectation around her chances, but asked her for her own opinion.
“I think it was a case of I am expecting to come second, at least,” Ms Lee said….
It was always going to be a tough battle, but she would not be missing out on spending time with her son if she thought there was no chance of winning.
“I am not putting in all these hours and putting up with media trying to come second, I am not. I am trying to win this damn thing.”
It would have been better if this is what was said initially.