Data doesn’t back the story

Newsroom reports:

The veteran MP is smarting at a revelation in new disclosures published by the Electoral Commission: ASX-listed mining firm Bathurst Resources donated $32,600 to 29-year-old independent Patrick Phelps to fully fund his campaign for more mining on the West Coast. 

Candidate spending limits were $32,600 at last year’s election. So Bathurst, unhappy with a Labour policy banning more mining of conservation land, funded Phelps’ entire campaign – every last dollar. It gave him a far bigger war chest than the more established candidates.

“Look, it was a very credible result for him. And I acknowledge that,” O’Connor tells Newsroom. “Clearly, across the wider West Coast region, people saw our policy as a blockage to further any further mining development.

It’s a worthwhile story that one company entirely funded the campaign of an independent.

Richard Tacon says the company’s man was never going to win – but he did pull enough votes away from O’Connor to hand the West Coast-Tasman seat to National’s Maureen Pugh.

What Tacon and O’Connor do agree on is that Phelps took more votes off O’Connor than he did off Pugh.

This is where the data disagrees. The split vote analysis shows that only 940 Labour Party voters voted for Phelps compared to 2,198 National Party voters. He basically took twice as many votes off Pugh as O’Connor.

O’Connor lost the seat because around 23,000 voted for CR parties and only around 13,000 for CL parties.

O’Connor had 77% of Labour voters vote for him while Pugh only had 70% of National voters. On the basis of the split vote data, she would have a larger majority of Phelps had not stood.

Across the whole electorate in the 2020 election, O’Connor had won 6208 more votes than Pugh. In 2023, Pugh turned that around to a 1017 vote majority. 

And the difference? There was a big nationwide swing against Labour, but that on its own wouldn’t have been enough to unseat O’Connor.

Yes it was. The 7,225 change in the majority was one of the smallest in NZ. 39 seats had a majority change by over 10,000 votes.

The CR beat the CL by 21% in WCT – that is why O’Connor lost.

Pugh saw her vote cut from 14,545 to 13,317. But the impact on O’Connor was far worse: his vote plummeted from 20,753 to 12,300.

Yes her vote dropped because helps took votes off her. The only seat which had a bigger drop for National’s electorate vote was Tamaki. Damien O’Connor’s drop was because Labour lost support everywhere. 26 other seats had larger drops for the Labour candidate.

The data totally contradicts the story.

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