Trotter on Labour and the Party Vote


If everyone who voted for their Labour candidate in last year’s election had also given Labour their party vote, National would have lost.

No. Labour would have done better, but that does not mean Labour would have won.

The discrepancy between the two vote tallies is startling. Everybody’s heard about Labour’s woeful 2014 party vote. At just 25 per cent, it was Labour’s worst electoral performance since 1922.

Nowhere near as well known, however, is the number of votes cast for Labour Party candidates across the country’s 71 electorates. That number, at 801,287, is 196,752 larger than the 604,535 party votes Labour received.

If every electorate vote for Labour had been matched by a party vote, the percentage figure alongside Labour’s name on election night would not have been a derisory 25, but a much more respectable 34 – almost certainly enough to have changed the government.

Let’s have a look at what the result would have been if based on electorate votes only. National got 46.1%, Labour 34.1%, Greens 7.1%, Conservatives 3.5%, NZ First 3.1%, Maori Party 1.8% Mana 1.6%, ACT 1.2% and United Future 0.6%.

The CR electorate vote was 51.4%. The CL electorate vote was 42.8% and the centre parties had 4.9%.

So if the election has been decided on electorate, not party vote, National would still have won.

Of course it is a silly comparison, because some people make a conscious decision to split their vote. They may never vote for a particular party, but like their local MP.

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