Armstrong on Jones and Northland

John Armstrong writes:

What chance of Shane Jones prising the seat of Northland from the tightly-clenched grasp of the National Party at September’s general election?

In short, not much.

Jones is confronted with a simple, but ugly equation — one that he will never be able to come up with enough numbers sufficient to solve it.

National’s majority in Northland at the was a relatively slim one — less than 1400 votes. That figure is very deceptive, however.

That is because of what might be termed the “Winston factor”. The sly, cunning but seemingly ageless fox of New Zealand politics captured the Northland seat in a byelection in 2015. National won it back at the general election two years later.

Such is Peters’ popularity, persona and all-round impact on any scenario in which he chooses to make himself a player that trying to draw comparisons from voting statistics pertaining to him with those of any other politician is both bogus and meaningless.

The way the cookie crumbled in terms of the distribution of the electorate vote in Northland in 2017 has little to relevance to what might or will happen in the seat in 2020. Except for one thing. That Peters slid to defeat by 1400 votes suggests that Jones, who is still an apprentice to the maestro, will struggle to do any better.

I agree with Armstrong.

The best way to analyse the seat is look at the party vote. Voters in Northland now know a vote for Shane Jones will be a vote for a Labour-Green-NZ First Government. Very few National voters will vote for Jones knowing doing so would make it more likely National remains in opposition.

Last election in Northland National for 46.4% and 0.5% so say 47% voted CR and the vast majority will not vote for Jones.

The left parties were Labour 30.1%, NZ First 13.2% and Greens 6.0% so 49.2%. So in theory Jones could win if he picks up 95% of the Labour, NZ First and Green party voters. But that is a heroic assumption.

Also add to that the NZ First party vote in Northland is likely to be lower after their decision not to go with National.

So all up, it is mathematically possible but very unlikely Jones can win.

There is another crucial difference. In 2015, Andrew Little, Labour’s then leader, hinted that supporters of his party were free to lodge a protest vote wherever they thought best.

No sooner had Jones confirmed last Monday that he will be New Zealand First’s candidate in Northland than Jacinda Ardern was all but ruling out an electoral pact with her coalition partner — even one of the unwritten variety like that between National and in Epsom.

Her language left a small amount of wriggle room should she have a change of mind, but otherwise it was a pretty definitive statement and will be read as such.

Without any help from Ardern’s quarter, Jones’ candidacy amounts to little more than a flag-waving exercise. 

With NZ First under SFO investigation, will Jacinda really want to endorse Jones in the seat?

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