The Conservatives did not get into Parliament but they attracted over 55,000 votes gaining 2.8% of the vote. This exceeded expectations for a first time party with no current MPs, and wasn’t included in any of the debates. Obviously it helped that their leader, Colin Craig, could fund their campaign, rumoured to cost $1 million.
Craig came second in Rodney but only attracted 22%, miles behind Mark Mitchell who got 53%.
The Conservative tag line was “Every vote counts” which is especially ironic as none of their 55,000 votes counted. It is unknown how many people only voted for them because they believed Colin Craig would win Rodney, and hence their votes would count. I debunked the Rodney poll they pushed out, in this post.
A major challenge for them in 2014, will be to convince people that a vote for them won’t be a wasted vote. No one in their right mind will ever again believe a poll commissioned by the Conservatives purporting to show them ahead, unless the methodology and questions are fully revealed.
A related challenge will be how to maintain momentum over three years. Not being in Parliament makes it very hard to gain publicity.
There is definitely room in the political spectrum for a conservative party. IF NZ First had failed to make it back, they could have picked up a significant portion of their vote. It is hard to see how the Conservatives can make 5% in 2014, especially with the fear of wasted vote.
Hence there is much logic to exploring a merger with John Banks. Banks seat of Epsom means they would gain seats, even if they get less than 5%. Banks has the profile and the seat, while Craig has the money and the activist base. But I am unsure that Colin Craig would accept any sort of shared leadership.