The Dim-Post

January 14, 2014

Microparties

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 9:16 am

Bryce Edwards writes that this year is going to be the ‘year of the microparty‘:

However, it’s possible that the 2014 election year will be the year of the ‘micro party’.

While ‘minor parties’ might be classified as those parties normally receiving 5% to 15% support, ‘micro parties’ can be defined as those regularly inhabiting the space below the 5% MMP threshold. In this category we are seeing an array of new parties emerging, fighting for relevance alongside existing micro parties, and possibly having a considerable impact on the campaign and the final result.

Two of the parties cited are Kim Dotcom’s party and the Civilian Party. Technically the Conservative Party is also a micro-party, since it’s way, way south of where it needs to be to get into Parliament without an electorate seat.

This will definitely be the year of the media paying lots of attention to micro-parties as people like Colin Craig go to absurd lengths to get coverage. But reading some of the political science about microparties and protest voting makes me doubt how much influence they’ll have on the outcome.

The international research indicates that people cast protest votes when they’re confident that their most-favored candidate is going to win; they cast a vote for a fringe or joke party to send that candidate a signal hoping to influence future policies.

Does that model work in New Zealand’s MMP environment? I don’t know. In 2008 – an election which the John Key-led National Party was widely tipped to win and did by a comfortable margin – the ‘Bill and Ben Party’ founded by two comedians contested the election and received 13,016 (0.56%) of votes. I’d expect most of their support to have come from younger voters in left-leaning urban regions with high numbers of students. And they did do well in Palmerston North. But their most successful electorates were Invercargill, Rangitata, New Plymouth and Rangitikei, all of which have huge National majorities. So maybe the ‘signal to favored party’ model holds true to New Zealand elections?

If it does then 2014, in which the outcome is (currently) highly uncertain could be a really bad year to be a Microparty. If you like John Key, have a few quibbles about him but still want him in government you’re not going to ‘send a message’ by voting for The Civilian. And it helps explain why Colin Craig’s extraordinary media coverage hasn’t seen him gain in the polls.

The impact of the Kim Dotcom party is a bit harder to nail down. My gut feeling is that people aren’t going to give votes to a foreign national with a past history of criminal convictions who is facing extradition to stand trial in the US. But Dotcom’s formidable intellect and vast fortune make him highly unpredictable. I think he might take votes off the Green Party? Maybe? And maybe younger male National voters who think reducing World of Warcraft server latency is an important policy? But my best guess is that he’ll get less than 0.5%.

86 Comments »

  1. I think a lot will depend of how much money he is prepared to spend. He could buy a lot of media if he throws millions at it.

    Comment by northshoreguynz — January 14, 2014 @ 10:00 am

  2. Agreed.

    And to Ben Uffindel, I say … “I knew Ben Boyce. Ben Boyce was a guy on my TV. You, sir, are no Ben Boyce.”

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — January 14, 2014 @ 10:04 am

  3. He could buy a lot of media if he throws millions at it.

    Well, sort of.

    He won’t be able to buy any TV or radio time (unless he runs generic ads like “NZers should think more about their internetz!”, without mentioning himself or his party in any way). And in the three months before the election (everyone seems to be picking October, so from late July onwards) he’ll be restricted to an advertising spend of $1,091,000 (including GST) plus $25,700 (including GST) per electorate contested by the party.

    Of course, I’d imagine most of his targeted voting base lives on-line, so he won’t need (or want) to spend much on broadcast or dead tree media … look for lots of slick, well-made mini-movies on You Tube and the like.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — January 14, 2014 @ 10:12 am

  4. You’re so 2008. It is Minecraft server latency that now matters🙂

    Comment by dpf — January 14, 2014 @ 10:17 am

  5. …2014, in which the outcome is (currently) highly uncertain could be a really bad year to be a Microparty.

    Could well be. If National were looking as likely to win as they were in 2014 I’d find it hilarious to vote for a Kim Dotcom party, solely on the basis that he looks and talks like a Bond-movie villain and having him in Parliament would really, really annoy National. But as it stands, thanks but no thanks – I’d prefer to vote for a change of government.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — January 14, 2014 @ 10:39 am

  6. I’d find it hilarious to vote for a Kim Dotcom party, solely on the basis that he looks and talks like a Bond-movie villain and having him in Parliament would really, really annoy National.

    In which case, don’t vote for the “MegaParty” (or whatever). Kim Dotcom can’t become an MP – he’s not a NZ citizen, which you must be before you can become a candidate. I also suspect that any attempt to become a NZ citizen before the election will not be successful … .

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — January 14, 2014 @ 10:42 am

  7. “…You’re so 2008. It is Minecraft server latency that now matters…”

    Actually, all that matters for you is getting National back into power. And if that includes keeping your privileged access to the halls of power by walking over the bodies of marked and bruised little children, then you are all for a chem-trail kook who admits to beating his kid because God says he should. What a nice guy.

    Anyway, Dotcom may mobilise some of the fabled 800,000 non-voters out there. I know the general wisdom is these are all latent Labour voters in South and West Auckland. But the general but resigned and helpless alarm in bars and pubs over the government’s GCSB laws last year tells me that surveillance could be a real hot button “sleeper” issue for a certain voter demographic. Nothing ignites a fire like giving the hopeless a sense of hope.

    I suspect many of your usually disengaged, uninterested in politics tech generation may also reside in those “lost 800,000” voters that gets everyone so exicted. Younger, libertarian-in-a-confused-way and tech savvy urban men and women. And how many Korean/Chinese/Taiwanese residents voted last election, vs. how many of them might get excited over a character and issues they can relate to? Kim Dotcom has a real constituency. The question is, can he connect to them, get them to enroll and get them to the polls? I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 14, 2014 @ 10:54 am

  8. His candidate selection is going to be interesting.

    Comment by northshoreguynz — January 14, 2014 @ 11:15 am

  9. “…and if that includes keeping your privileged access to the halls of power by walking over the bodies of marked and bruised little children,…” What a wonderful image, you’d have to have a heart of stone not to laugh. Who says the left can’t communicate!

    Comment by Tinakori — January 14, 2014 @ 11:31 am

  10. Child abuse revolts me, and those that excuse it on the grounds that it is politically expedient to do so make me sick.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 14, 2014 @ 11:41 am

  11. Shooting children’s pets is A-OK though…😉

    Comment by Rob — January 14, 2014 @ 11:52 am

  12. Careful Sanc. Using such sentences may call forth the ever dull Lord VoldePete.

    Comment by Gregor W — January 14, 2014 @ 11:53 am

  13. “…Careful Sanc. Using such sentences may call forth the ever dull Lord VoldePete….”

    Hopefully he is getting his hearing replaced or having a cheeky hip relacement, so I might be safe.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 14, 2014 @ 11:58 am

  14. You missed your calling Sanctuary. If only there was still a Ukrainian Ministry of Potato Production you could be the Assistant Deputy Minister’s deputy head of propaganda.

    Comment by Tinakori — January 14, 2014 @ 12:01 pm

  15. Shooting children’s pets is A-OK though…😉

    Afternoon Rob, I was afraid i had made you go away from Danyl’s blog, which would have been very rude of me.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 14, 2014 @ 12:03 pm

  16. What was it you did that made you fear such a thing?

    P.S. Is this one of your mates? http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/9531706/Raglan-cat-killings-annihilate-local-birdlife

    Kudos to them for successfully sowing distrust and suspicion in a community.. and undoubtedly making a few of those precious children you love so much cry for their missing pets. A bit of bugger their antisocial actions appear to be having a negative effect on the native birds though…

    Comment by Rob — January 14, 2014 @ 12:29 pm

  17. “But Dotcom’s formidable intellect and vast fortune make him highly unpredictable. I think he might take votes off the Green Party? Maybe?”

    But… But… Kim DotCom revealed his obvious political affiliations when he donated to the ACT Party, and that’s clearly the OPPOSITE of the Green Party!

    Are you trying to assert that voting patterns and commonalities between parties aren’t always defined by an inflexible spectrum of political thinkings which simplistically never deviates from a one-dimensional straight line from “left” to “right”???

    How ridiculous! Hand over your political commentator licence, Danyl.

    Comment by izogi — January 14, 2014 @ 1:50 pm

  18. After a time of shortage and rising prices, the fine people of the Ukraine produced over 21 million tons of potatoes in 2013, of which 6 million tons, or about 140 kg per person per year, is consumed locally.

    This of course represents a magnificent achievement for Ukrainian potato producers in general.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 14, 2014 @ 2:17 pm

  19. Someone needs to put up a billboard featuring a large picture of Colin Craigs daughter, with a smaller picture of him up in the corner, and the caption “This is the child I hit to get your votes”

    Comment by Michael — January 14, 2014 @ 3:41 pm

  20. If the quantity of micro parties increases steadily, in ten years we may not even have a party leading the government. Instead, it will be like a co-operative, with several micro parties merging and then choosing a PM and then being the government. The micro party that gets the most votes may not have its leader as the PM because concessions will have to be made to all the other parties, meaning they may ending up being joint PM’s, or even getting the voting public to re-select a PM because of the uniqueness of several micro parties forming a coalition, so that would be an interesting experience.

    Fascinating to delve into the implications of the increase in these micro parties. Thanks, Danyl.

    Comment by Daniel Lang — January 14, 2014 @ 3:53 pm

  21. If the quantity of micro parties increases steadily, in ten years we may not even have a party leading the government.

    I think there’s a job at Treasury for one with such prognosticative abilities.

    Comment by Gregor W — January 14, 2014 @ 4:07 pm

  22. “This of course represents a magnificent achievement for Ukrainian potato producers in general.”

    I knew you could do it

    Comment by Tinakori — January 14, 2014 @ 4:35 pm

  23. The media has a history of talking up the prospects of minor political parties since it makes the political field look more complex than it actually is, which makes their stories more interesting. Remember that new post-ACT classic liberal party Danyl was very interested in talking about the prospects of a few years ago? What ever happened to it? I suspect Dotcom’s party will be similar.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 14, 2014 @ 5:45 pm

  24. The following will happen:

    1) There will be idiotic media coverage of minor/micro parties all year, especially when reporting statistically insignificant poll results (“ACT support slumps to 0.3, from 0.5! Hone loses out to Kim! Craig beats Dunne in preferred PM!”).

    2) The voters will then make the pollsters (or rather, their media misinterpreters) look stupid.

    3) Nobody will say afterwards “We got it wrong again, sorry”.

    Repeat 3 years later.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — January 14, 2014 @ 6:01 pm

  25. “… I suspect Dotcom’s party will be similar…”

    According to Dotcom’s twitter feed, 15,000 people have already registered to attend his party launch.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 14, 2014 @ 8:14 pm

  26. Prediction: The economy will be the winner on the day. Oh and National.

    Comment by Grant — January 14, 2014 @ 8:58 pm

  27. @Sanc: I take it Dotcom has your blessing, then

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 14, 2014 @ 9:46 pm

  28. “…Prediction: The economy will be the winner on the day. Oh and National…”

    You Tories haven’t twigged yet, have you? Dotcom is out to get John Key. It is very personal, and National will be collatoral damage. What you don’t understand is Dotcom appeals to exactly the same aspirational young and connected middle class crowd Key does – only he does it better than Key. Dotcom doesn’t have to make the threshold, because for every Labour or Green voter he gets, he’ll get three National ones. If he takes 3% of National, boom. John Key is an ex-PM and Kim Dotcom has got his revenge.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 14, 2014 @ 9:49 pm

  29. @kalvarnsen – If I think he will act as a genuine force to get rid of the GCSB and all the other paraphernalia of the American empire’s nascent pantopticon surveillance client state that we have been turned into, I might just think about it.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 14, 2014 @ 9:53 pm

  30. That’s interesting Sanc because I am pretty sure that if Dotcom fell on the wrong side of your fairly arbitrary moral compass, you would use his immense wealth, massive home and foreign birth for a variety of ad hominem attacks against him, but now that he is in your camp they are suddenly irrelevant.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 14, 2014 @ 10:02 pm

  31. Like Sanctuary, I’m thinking a lot of people here are mis-reading DotCom. He could have quite an influence on how the general election turns out …. in a way possibly that most of us cannot even begin to imagine

    Comment by Hopeful — January 14, 2014 @ 10:41 pm

  32. “… but now that he is in your camp…”

    I don’t consider Dotcom “in my camp” insofar as I am a socialist. However, he shows every sign of doing three things I approve of (listed in order of importance) – 1) Getting rid of our American style surveillance laws. You cannot have democracy without privacy. 2) As an outsider who has experienced first hand the craven moral cowardice of our political class I like that me might explode a political bomb under the cosy, cronyist, cynical, self-serving and arrogant New Zealand political establishment. All those people that dislike the idea of a foreign millionaire interfering in our politics ought to consider what sort of establishment they are trying to save, and whether or not it deserves to be saved. And 3) getting rid of this National government. So If he can gets those things done in one election…

    My thoughts on the economy. Most of the predictions of a “boom time” are coming from economists employed by our foreign owned banks, who are parasites with a vested interest in preserving their one way ticket to profit gouging the NZ public. First of all, they want their bankster mates Key and English to stay in power, so they’ll do everything they can to talk up the economy in election year. Secondly, A “boom” means hiked interest rates and a stronger dollar – ka-ching if you a bank and you are in country with a heavily indebted society like ours is. On the other hand, if they are wrong and interest rates stay low then ka-ching, they can keep lending into the housing bubble where their loans are literally as safe as houses. Since our economy is essentially a one trick pony, it is also a worry to me that these bankster forecasts also seem to assume that dairy prices will remain sky high. Remember, these are the same bankster experts who never saw the GFC coming.

    I read in the paper that the NZ economy is already operating “near capacity” – stoking inflation fears, and word from the employers that they expect wage growth to be “patchy”. The most likely economic outlook for NZ is hiked interest rates for people on near static wages whilst the bigger the business you are, the bigger the profit bonanza you’ll have from the flood of money going into the Christchurch rebuild. Decide for yourself if that makes the economy “a winner” for most New Zealanders.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 15, 2014 @ 7:59 am

  33. What you don’t understand is Dotcom appeals to exactly the same aspirational young and connected middle class crowd Key does

    Let me predict right now that the number of ‘aspirational’ middle class voters Kim Dotcom takes from National will be very close to zero. If demographic votes for him it’ll be young urban voters, and he’ll probably be taking them off the Green Party. But getting those people to vote for you is hard. You need to run a ground campaign, leaflet, billboards, doorknock, gotv etc, and I can’t quite picture who is going to do that in, say, Dunedin North for Kim Dotcom.

    Comment by danylmc — January 15, 2014 @ 9:17 am

  34. …I can’t quite picture who is going to do that in, say, Dunedin North for Kim Dotcom.

    I regard this as a personal challenge, and a call to arms. I can really relate to the young peoples, with their cellular phones, portable computers and love of playing Dungeons and Dragons on them. It’ll be me versus Pete George in the battle for the youth.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — January 15, 2014 @ 9:30 am

  35. Sanc: “Dotcom is out to get John Key. It is very personal, and National will be collatoral damage.”

    As well as I can tell, he’s out to become as popular, beneficial for, and visibly integrated into the country as possible, probably so that when the US feds finally come knocking again with high-priced lawyers, it’ll be an very unpopular Minister and government which allows him be extradited.

    It was hardly an accident that he proposed being a major bank-roller for the next Americas Cup bid when he did, or to invest big in the Pacific Fibre cable, both of which are projects that would have strong effects for kiwis, one way or another.

    Comment by izogi — January 15, 2014 @ 9:33 am

  36. @danylmc – From your tone, it appears Dotcom must be an Auckland phenomena. I was talking to a Chinese guy (an NZ resident of two years) who is keen on Dotcom just yesterday, and I know he didn’t even know where Wellington was located on the map because we were all teasing him about it. So it follows that hardly anyone in Auckland interested in Dotcom even knows where Dunedin North is, let alone cares about the place.

    I suspect those outside Auckland have no idea of Dotcom’s visibility in the 09. he is generally viewed in a favourable light, his lifestyle appeals to the white-speedboat Jafa psyche in way you cary wearing Wellingtonians might not grasp. I bet you $20 (I hate gambling, twenty bucks is twenty bucks!) to charity of your choice he out-polls the Conservatives or gets 4%, whichever is higher.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 15, 2014 @ 9:45 am

  37. “You need to run a ground campaign, leaflet, billboards, doorknock”

    Man, Danyl, if there’s one thing the young, aspirational vote is known for, it’s not giving a crap about 1960s era get-out-the-vote tactics. I agree with you that those kinds of voters are more likely to be locked for the Green Party and will be hard for Dotcom to pick them up, but this is not because they’re sitting at home waiting to be canvassed by some weekend volunteer with a rosette and a list of names of clipboards. I think this is proved pretty cosily by the fact that the Greens have a very weak ground game*, and it doesn’t stop these people voting for them.

    *Which is really due to their size and focus on the party vote, before people start leaping up to defend the Greens from my vicious critique.

    As for Sanc, I find it amusing that you decided to give your thoughts on the economy despite nobody asking about it or giving any indication that they were interested in it. I know you feel your views are very interesting and should be more widely shared, but have you ever considered getting your own blog?

    tl:dr – everybody predicting Dotcom will be a political titan will have forgotten that they staked their reputations on this prediction in a year and will be prognosticating away on some other barely-relevant pet factor for the 2017 election.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 15, 2014 @ 9:51 am

  38. “…As for Sanc, I find it amusing that you decided to give your thoughts on the economy…”

    Grant @ 8:58 pm predicted the economy would be the winner, hence my comment.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 15, 2014 @ 9:58 am

  39. From your tone, it appears Dotcom must be an Auckland phenomena. I was talking to a Chinese guy (an NZ resident of two years) who is keen on Dotcom just yesterday, and I know he didn’t even know where Wellington was located on the map because we were all teasing him about it. So it follows that hardly anyone in Auckland interested in Dotcom even knows where Dunedin North is, let alone cares about the place.

    There are a lot of voters in the distant, glittering, incomprehensible alien region that is Auckland. About 25% of the total in 2011. Which means about 75% of voters don’t live there, because mathematics, So unless Dotcom is going to capture more than 20% of Auckland voters he needs to widen his campaign and recruit Andrew Geddis to leaflet the South Island for him.

    Comment by danylmc — January 15, 2014 @ 10:07 am

  40. I think this is proved pretty cosily by the fact that the Greens have a very weak ground game*, and it doesn’t stop these people voting for them.

    I think your “proof” rather undercuts your earlier statement that “if there’s one thing the young, aspirational vote is known for, it’s not giving a crap about 1960s era get-out-the-vote tactics.” The Greens constantly outperform their actual election result in opinion polls leading up to polling day (which is why Danyl’s “corrected” poll-of-polls takes a couple of points off their apparent position), precisely because they get younger voters saying they intend to vote for them and then never actually getting around to doing so. That’s because, for all the message delivery you can do on the interweb and excitement you can generate via instagram (that’s still a thing, right?), the best way to actually get someone to trundle down to a voting booth and do the deed is to have someone turn up on their doorstep, make sure that they actually are correctly registered to vote in the electorate they live in (otherwise they’ll have to cast a special vote, which is a pain in the backside), and then return to give them a push out the door on the day.

    The youth may think they’re “different” and don’t respond to the same things that their moms and pops do, but there’s nowt so powerful as another flesh and blood human exerting peer pressure.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — January 15, 2014 @ 10:20 am

  41. So unless Dotcom is going to capture more than 20% of Auckland voters he needs to widen his campaign and recruit Andrew Geddis to leaflet the South Island for him.

    Hey! I volunteered for Dunedin North. Why can’t you hop on a ferry and take care of Nelson down to Christchurch?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — January 15, 2014 @ 10:22 am

  42. The youth may think they’re “different” and don’t respond to the same things that their moms and pops do, but there’s nowt so powerful as another flesh and blood human exerting peer pressure.

    Yeah. I don’t think I’m giving anything away when I say the Greens found their highest resulting electorates in 2011 were the ones where they did all the tedious 1960s GOTV stuff that the major parties do.

    Comment by danylmc — January 15, 2014 @ 10:24 am

  43. True dat. Rongotai and Wgtn Central were both pretty focussed on billboards and pavement pounding.

    Comment by Gregor W — January 15, 2014 @ 10:42 am

  44. @Andrew & Danyl: I wanted to say something about correlation and causation and the historic strengths of the Greens in both electorates, but this is incidental to my point. You may be right that there are a lot of people who are fully supportive of the Green party but just never get around to voting due to general cynicism and disillusionment about the electoral process.

    But we are talking about getting people to change their voting intent, not about translating that intent into actual ballots in boxes. And I maintain that those who intend to vote Green, whether or not they actually end up doing so due to apathy and disengagement and kids these days etc etc, are not likely to change that intention because somebody from another party turns up at their doorstep, which is what Danyl appeared to be saying when he said that that kind of groundpounding was needed to win over voters.

    So, reading back over what I’ve just said, I suppose I may have overreached in arguing that the target demographic doesn’t respond at all to 20th century political logistics in any way, but I do maintain that it doesn’t significantly respond to it with shifts in voting intent.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 15, 2014 @ 10:56 am

  45. I was offshore during the Bob Jones political era, but as a millionaire funding a political force, didn’t he do quite well? So what is the difference twixt him then, and KDC now?

    Comment by northshoreguynz — January 15, 2014 @ 10:58 am

  46. So what is the difference twixt him then, and KDC now?

    One’s a rich,single issue egotistical asshole and the other is Kim Dot Com.

    Comment by Gregor W — January 15, 2014 @ 11:16 am

  47. And I maintain that those who intend to vote Green, whether or not they actually end up doing so due to apathy and disengagement and kids these days etc etc, are not likely to change that intention because somebody from another party turns up at their doorstep…

    But plenty of companies would appear to disagree with you. On campus I regularly see representatives of phone companies, energy drinks, etc, etc wandering around doing good old fashioned, face-to-face product selling. Why are teh kidz still susceptible to this sort of commercial marketing, but not political marketing?

    But we are talking about getting people to change their voting intent, not about translating that intent into actual ballots in boxes

    Are we? Let’s say Dotcom uses his internet savvy and mad DJing skillz and manages to shift the allegiance of all of the (arbitrarily designated) 2% of the populace who are young, urban dwellers that casually support the Greens (because, y’know, that’s just what you do). At the moment, these voters are the ones that the Greens can’t get to actually do anything about that “support” (apart from wear the odd “Party Vote Green!” button and sign on-line petitions against bad things). Which is why they got 11% at the polls, when their standing in the opinion polls was up around 13%.

    What, then, does it matter if Dotcom “wins” them from the Greens? They’ll just become Dotcom-supporting non-voters, instead of Green Party non-voters. Unless, of course, the Greens have some plan to massively increase their GOTV efforts in 2014 by deploying lots and lots more people on the ground to try and peer pressure these deadbeat hippies into the polling places. If that were the case, and Dotcom has won them over, then they might matter. If not, then they don’t.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — January 15, 2014 @ 11:26 am

  48. I was offshore during the Bob Jones political era, but as a millionaire funding a political force, didn’t he do quite well? So what is the difference twixt him then, and KDC now?

    Robert Muldoon.

    Jones gave National voters who’d grown tired of Muldoon, but could never stomach voting for Labour, somewhere to go.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — January 15, 2014 @ 11:27 am

  49. I’m not so sure about the Green / Internet Party crossover http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/moralfag

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — January 15, 2014 @ 11:33 am

  50. Andrew is right. The anti-Muldoon sentiment in 1984 was titanic. It had been potent before then, but by 1984 there was a pervasive sense that “enough was enough”. Jones’ arrival on the scene was incredibly timely in that he gave people who disliked Labour a political fig leaf to let them vote against Muldoon without voting for “those guys”. His millions certainly helped him to be able to exploit that opening in a way an ideologically similar but lower profile figure couldn’t have, but it was definitely a sense of cometh the time, cometh the man. (It’s instructive that his political support vanished almost overnight once Muldoon was out of the picture) While Kim Dotcom’s more ardent defenders, like Sanc, might claim he is similarly plugged into and primed to exploit an anti-Key zeitgeist, and even I would have to admit that there’s a definite timeliness to Dotcom’s ability to hit Key on a hot button issue, it’s just a single issue with limited salience.

    @Andrew: I think that the differences in political marketing and commercial marketing are obvious enough that they do not need to be pointed out, and to be honest I know a lot less about the latter than the former. But it seems quite a stretch to say that because this demographic will change its mobile plan based on a face-to-face approach, it will do the same for its political preferences. You may be right that the knocking-on-the-door approach has the benefit of getting the converted voter out the door once he’s changed his mind, but that’s no good if his mind isn’t changed in the first place.

    Having said all that I think we agree that these voters will be hard graft for Dotcom and his myrmidons to win over, whatever their hypothetical best approach would be.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 15, 2014 @ 11:43 am

  51. @kalvarnsen: “I think that the differences in political marketing and commercial marketing are obvious enough that they do not need to be pointed out…”

    I’m an idiot. Point them out for me.

    As far as I can see, both sets of marketing aim to make the target positively do something (i.e. actually vote for something, or actually buy something) in order to be considered successful.

    There is also a negative version of both; in political marketing when trying to discourage the target from voting for an opponent, and in commerical marketing when trying to stop the target switching to a competitor product/service.

    Comment by RJL — January 15, 2014 @ 12:10 pm

  52. @kalvarnsen: There is precisely no difference between commercial and political marketing, other than the product form and brand peculiarities.
    The same techniques are equally applicable. This is simply borne out by the fact that the same agencies / svengalis are involved in both spheres.

    Comment by Gregor W — January 15, 2014 @ 12:29 pm

  53. @ Andrew “these deadbeat hippies” – I think you mean “deadbeat hipsters”. Hippies quite different. They have a stronger motivation to vote Green but may fail to do so because, for example, they do not have a car and are living on a commune in Coromandel. This is different to your young urban hipster, who may not get around to voting because they are busy riding their fixies to vegan cafes to have haloumi for brunch on election day.

    On another note, I actually think Kim Dotcom’s party may appeal to a lot of National voters. My impression is that many people who work in the IT sector are young, highly educated males who are quite socially and economically conservative and either don’t vote, or vote National. I can see a Kim Dotcom party appealing to them, especially if it actually had some policies around growing the IT sector – not just around faster broadband and surveillance.

    Comment by Amy — January 15, 2014 @ 3:21 pm

  54. This is different to your young urban hipster, who may not get around to voting because they are busy riding their fixies to vegan cafes to have haloumi for brunch on election day.

    I would suggest that your target population of vegans that eat haloumi would be approaching 0.

    Comment by Gregor W — January 15, 2014 @ 5:02 pm

  55. I think Amy meant Tofoumi.

    Look it up. It’s a thing.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — January 15, 2014 @ 6:37 pm

  56. Well, just off the top of my head, commercial marketers are trying to persuade people to do something with an up-front financial cost, while political marketers aren’t. Supporting a political brand is usually more core to somebody’s self-identity than supporting a commercial brand. People’s political brand choices are only effectualised once every three years (outside referendums, which are rare). People are more likely to select relationships, both platonic and romantic, based on political brand choice than on commercial brand choice. There’s more, but like I say, off the top of my head.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 15, 2014 @ 6:48 pm

  57. Now that we know a bit more about the Internet Party, it’s pretty clear it’s going to be a wasted vote.

    Every minor/micro party fantasises about winning an electorate. But in the General seats, it hasn’t happened without help (i.e. nods and winks from major parties, and/or MP incumbency) since 1993. Before MMP.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — January 15, 2014 @ 7:14 pm

  58. What I don’t get is why two authoritarian left wing conservatives like Martyn Bradbury and Alistair Thompson wanted to hook up with an independent, anarchic, piratical buccaneer like Kim Dotcom. Are they blinded by hatred for National or have Daddy issues? or both?

    Comment by Tinakori — January 15, 2014 @ 9:05 pm

  59. @Tinakori: People who are to the left of Labour and who have, for whatever reason, decided not to throw their lot in with the Greens are in a bad place. They get desperate, and they make bad choices. A couple of years ago it was Hone, and now – even less credibly – it’s Dotcom.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 15, 2014 @ 9:15 pm

  60. That’s true. I was mixing up the cafes in my head that do haloumi, with the vegan cafes that do raw food. Have you ever had brunch at a raw food cafe? It is unbelievably dire.

    Comment by Amy — January 15, 2014 @ 10:09 pm

  61. “…Look it up. It’s a thing…”

    First Google result was:

    “Pan Seared Lemony Tofu Slices with Fresh Herbs and Za’atar”.

    Which just added Za’atar to tofoumi on the list of food I would examine only if it was drooped over the end of a stick.

    When trying to put The Internet Party onto a left-right spectrum I am reminded of regular commentator and Green supporter Ben Wilson. He champions a particular view that holds a left/right analysis to be the stuff of fusty old people mired in an obsolete dialectic, and in this bright new age of Aquarius different alliances are needed to sooth our ailing society, provide succour to our freedoms, and cool our planets fevered forehead. So maybe Dotcom and his Internet Party are evidence for his case?

    Anyway, I am not sure if Dotcom has much of an economic policy beyond a fairly cookie cutter under grad libertarianism. What he wants to do is to is to get rid of the surveillance laws and to take John Key down with him. You don’t need a policy on the exchange rate to do that. And let’s face it, if he can get rid of the sureveillance laws he’ll done more for every New Zealander in three years than most governments.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 16, 2014 @ 7:29 am

  62. “He champions a particular view that holds a left/right analysis to be the stuff of fusty old people mired in an obsolete dialectic, and in this bright new age of Aquarius different alliances are needed to sooth our ailing society, provide succour to our freedoms”

    I don’t really get the left-right thing as an exclusive analysis tool, either. Metaphors like the Nolan Chart are at least a step away from that, if not totally accurate. (Not sure if there are other names for this type of chart — I just googled it this morning to find out what people call it.)

    “What he wants to do is to is to get rid of the surveillance laws and to take John Key down with him. You don’t need a policy on the exchange rate to do that.”

    I’d love to know what the party’s policy on the exchange rate and a million other things is, though. Otherwise his MPs (should they be elected) are going to be either (a) Totally unpredictible and representing nothing that anybody voted for when they choose what to vote for, or (b) A big waste of time, money and resources when they don’t bother to show up for the 95% of the time that Parliament is debating stuff they don’t care about, leaving seats empty which could have been used to better represent the populace.

    Comment by izogi — January 16, 2014 @ 8:22 am

  63. What I don’t get is why two authoritarian left wing conservatives like Martyn Bradbury and Alistair Thompson wanted to hook up with an independent, anarchic, piratical buccaneer like Kim Dotcom. Are they blinded by hatred for National or have Daddy issues? or both?

    Wouldn’t have a clue about Alistair Thompson, but being driven by ego over ideology, the People’s Prick has far more in common with Ian Wishart than he does with John Minto. Wouldn’t surprise me if he fell on his head and found Jesus if he felt it to be an advantageous career move.

    Comment by Joe W — January 16, 2014 @ 8:54 am

  64. Well, just off the top of my head, commercial marketers are trying to persuade people to do something with an up-front financial cost, while political marketers aren’t.

    @karlvarnsen – the idea of marketing is in effectively communicating the value of a thing (be that a good, service or idea) between a producer and a consumer; that connection being the ‘market‘ (buyer meets seller and a transaction is performed) part of ‘marketing’.

    While the purpose of any given marketing campaign might be “Buy my widgets” or “Vote for me”, the purpose – attemptinh to elicit a behavioural state change / modification of the consideration set in the target individual or population from State A to State B – techniques and mechanisms of the campaigns are broadly the same.

    It’s merely the desired outcomes that are different.

    Comment by Gregor W — January 16, 2014 @ 9:12 am

  65. @izogi – I am a bit torn on this one. On the one hand I agree with you that our political parties need to have a coherent economic program to put before the electorate. On the other hand, getting elected to do a single major thing for the little guy, a thing that would involve a huge poke in the eye for our entire rotten political establishment, and doing it, would be more than either of our two major parties – with their long lists of policies on everything they would like to tinker with – have managed for the little guy for over thirty years.

    So for all their having policies on the exchange rate, swopping tweedle dum Bill English for tweedle dee David Parker won’t change much there for anotjher three years. But electing the Internet party to get rid of the surveillance laws, well that would at least be a real, actual, victory over the neo-lib security state establishment. And if you can show that you can score victories over the TINA establishment, then who knows what would be next.

    But as you say, that could come with a whole pile of kooky policies. what to do, what to do…

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 16, 2014 @ 9:38 am

  66. Actually, thinking this over last night I realised that if I was a young, socially or economically conservative man who worked in the IT sector then I probably wouldn’t vote for Kim Dotcom’s party, because I would expect him to refuse to go into coalition with National. And I wouldn’t want a Labour-Greens government because of my social/economic conservatism.

    So that means if Kim Dotcom is going to pick up votes, it would have to be either a) as a kind of protest vote (all the big parties suck and don’t understand me and the things I do on the interwebs), b) a McGillicutty serious type party vote cos it would be kinda awesome to have a crazy German dotcom villian in Parliament or c) socially liberable, environmentally progressive voters who agree strongly with Kim’s policy on either copyright or privacy and really want to see a Greens-Labour-Internet government.

    I don’t imagine those three groups together would get him to 5%, although possibly Group C could leach away a bit of the Greens vote.

    Comment by Amy — January 16, 2014 @ 10:00 am

  67. “I don’t really get the left-right thing as an exclusive analysis tool, either.”

    @Izogi: It’s always tempting to support those who are thinking outside the box. But there are major issues confronting almost every modern nation – taxation, monetary policy, welfare – that it is basically impossible to take a position on without falling somewhere on the left/right axis. So when a politician says they are neither left nor right, I read it as either they don’t understand how these policies work, or they think they aren’t important. Neither is encouraging.

    “@karlvarnsen – the idea of marketing is in effectively communicating the value of a thing (be that a good, service or idea) between a producer and a consumer; that connection being the ‘market‘ (buyer meets seller and a transaction is performed) part of ‘marketing’.”

    @Gregor: I don’t think we’re disagreeing? Big picture, obviously, political marketing and commercial marketing have their similarities and as you say they both fall under the wide descriptor of ‘trying to get people to do stuff’. But within that descriptor there are important differences, especially at a tactical level. Or, to put it another way, what you say is correct, but it doesn’t follow from that that a tactic that works to sell mobile calling plans will work to ‘sell’ political parties.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 16, 2014 @ 10:38 am

  68. Hi @kalvarnsen. I’m not meaning to suggest that left and right don’t exist. I’m suggesting that it’s far more complex than simply placing parties and ideas long a one-dimensional piece of string with “extreme left” at one end and “extreme right” at the other. It’s short-sighted to presume that each party must occupy an exact position on a line, and will automatically adopt all ideas in their particular section of the line and no others…. as seems to be the habit of our establishment and commentators by assuming that Party C could never possibly work with Party E unless Party D is somehow involved and mediating “between” them.

    If the National Party ever breaks up into smaller groups of MPs and supporters, complete with contrasting ideas and interests and priorities (as Labour partially did some time ago) it’d be fascinating to see where those groups and supporters ended up going, and who they ended up working with independently of the others.

    Comment by izogi — January 16, 2014 @ 10:57 am

  69. What I don’t get is why two authoritarian left wing conservatives like Martyn Bradbury and Alistair Thompson wanted to hook up with an independent, anarchic, piratical buccaneer like Kim Dotcom.

    Thompson is a bit of a conspiracy theorist. Dotcom is a con artist, he’s taken quite a few people in.

    Thompson has been using Scoop to promote Dotcom for a while now. Not particularly great professional ethics.

    Comment by NeilM — January 16, 2014 @ 11:29 am

  70. Or, to put it another way, what you say is correct, but it doesn’t follow from that that a tactic that works to sell mobile calling plans will work to ‘sell’ political parties.

    @kalvarnsen

    This is an interesting example in that selling mobile calling plans is quite similar to selling political ideology (weirdly).

    The principles of screening and self selection still apply, that is, both mobile operators and politicians offer a ‘menu’ to potential consumers (plans on one hand, policies on the other) in order to gauge both the market potential and how effective a potential offering might be in meeting differentiated demand.

    To whit, parties will offer a range of policies, but like mobile plans, not all policies will appeal to all voters. This is why both mobile operators and political parties induce behaviour by bundling – mixing attractive with unattractive policies figuring that total economic welfare (or political welfare if you like) will be increased across the target population.

    The logic being that enough people will be enticed by some elements of the offer (say, tax cuts) to make the less attractive / less individually welfare maximising options (say, asset sales) more palatable, or vice versa depending on the individual. In that way the aggregate political ‘market’ can be increased for your given idelogical offer.

    Comment by Gregor W — January 16, 2014 @ 11:57 am

  71. @Kalvarnsen,

    Supporting a political brand is usually more core to somebody’s self-identity than supporting a commercial brand. People’s political brand choices are only effectualised once every three years (outside referendums, which are rare). People are more likely to select relationships, both platonic and romantic, based on political brand choice than on commercial brand choice.

    But it has ever been thus. So why was “old school” retail politicking (volunteer based, face-to-face canvassing at a person-by-person level) effective for previous generations, but somehow become ineffective with regards the present generation? Or do you think it was always ineffective (and have you evidence for that view)?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — January 16, 2014 @ 1:29 pm

  72. Do

    Comment by NeilM — January 16, 2014 @ 6:06 pm

  73. Followed by a “t” and various insightful observations but maybe I should just stick to the bbq

    Comment by NeilM — January 16, 2014 @ 6:08 pm

  74. @Gregor: Yes, there are some similarities, but you’ve skated over some fairly significant differences, not least the ones involving money.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 16, 2014 @ 6:11 pm

  75. @Andrew: There’s been a lot of ink spilled about this in the political science literature. Levine and Roberts have written about it in an NZ context although it is very far from a NZ-only phenomenon. Basically, their arguments come down to what political scientists and anthropologists call the ‘atomisation’ of western society. Since at least the sixties there has been a slow but powerful trend for people to become less willing to identify with, invest time into, and partake in the activities of, organised groups. This isn’t limited to political parties, but it very much includes them. Political party membership levels have declined massively across the western world, not always at the same rate and with temporary reverses, but it’s a very well known and widely recognised phenomenon.

    Now, declining political party membership doesn’t directly affect voter marketing, but atomisation has two effects on it. First, this scepticism towards group membership and investment means people are sceptical about a face-to-face pitch. Secondly, political parties have less volunteer members who are willing to do the hard graft of knocking on doors. So the groundpounding returns less dividends, and is harder to do. This is why we have seen the increased professionalism of political campaigns since the nineteen sixties, with an emphasis on paid advertisements and employed staff, rather than direct approaches and volunteer staff.

    There is some speculation that this trend of atomisation may be reversing or sidelining due to the role of social media, where people are again responding to volunteer persuasion. But even if this is the case, it’s a far cry from the campaign dynamics of the sixties.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 16, 2014 @ 6:20 pm

  76. Bbq delayed by champagne.

    Paranoid cyber libertarians are like lighthouses that can’t rotate.

    Comment by NeilM — January 16, 2014 @ 7:10 pm

  77. @kalvarnsen,

    None of what you say is news to me. But it seems to me you’re overplaying things when you claim “this scepticism towards group membership and investment means people are sceptical about a face-to-face pitch”. It’s a jump to go from saying “people aren’t as tribal about politics anymore, and are more loathe to join parties” to saying “people can no longer be as easily swayed in their political views by others”. In fact, the breakdown of political tribalism will (if anything) make people more susceptible to having their vote changed, won’t it?

    So I’d suggest (as you yourself accept) that the reason why we see less face-to-face, retail politicking these days (and increased professionalisation/reliance on media strategies) is not because it “no longer works as well”, but rather because it is hard, time consuming and requires lots and lots of people committed enough to go out and knock on strangers’ doors. And if you don’t have these (because people don’t want to be as active members of political parties as in the past), then you can’t do it as much. And so if you can do it less, then you’re going to focus your efforts on voters who carry the highest pay-off … which aren’t the young, as they have much worse turnout rates, so the effort-reward ratio for them isn’t as good as for older population groups. Meaning that the reason why young people don’t responding to “old school” door knocking, etc, is that it just isn’t being done to them.

    I’d also note that your original claim – “Man, Danyl, if there’s one thing the young, aspirational vote is known for, it’s not giving a crap about 1960s era get-out-the-vote tactics” – seems at odds with your last statement that “[t]here is some speculation that this trend of atomisation may be reversing or sidelining due to the role of social media, where people are again responding to volunteer persuasion.” Unless, of course, you want to make some claim that youth today are so immersed in a virtual world that they will only respond to prompts delivered electronically, and not by old fashioned meatsacks. Which would be silly.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — January 16, 2014 @ 7:33 pm

  78. You may be right, Andrew, and I certainly agree that the scepticism about face-to-face pitches has been less thoroughly investigated. There certainly is the element of chasing after voters with high turnout. But I feel that my earlier statement holds – no, the demographic Dotcom is chasing isn’t immune to knock-on-the-door tactics, they’re just markedly less suceptible to them. The statement “Some guy with a clipboard told me about [X political party], so I decided to start supporting them” lacks credibility in a way that “I read a great blogpost/heard a great podcast/saw a great ad about [X political party], so I decided to start supporting them” doesn’t.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 16, 2014 @ 8:17 pm

  79. @kalvarnen

    I would suggest that there are more similarities than differences. If you read back a little, you will note I make the point that though the desired state change as a result of any given campaign might be different, the techniques and tactics of marketing are essentially the same irrespective of product.

    Which is, I understood, was what you originally contended was inaccurate, but don’t believe you have been able to demonstrate.

    Comment by Gregor W — January 16, 2014 @ 8:53 pm

  80. @Gregor: Would you really go so far as to say that there is no such thing as a product that face-to-face marketing doesn’t work very well for? Because that seems to be what you’re asserting.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 16, 2014 @ 10:21 pm

  81. @kalvarnen

    Not at all. What I am saying is that the techniques used for marketing are pretty much universal, irrespective of product.

    This is in response to your comment ““I think that the differences in political marketing and commercial marketing are obvious enough that they do not need to be pointed out…”.

    The outcome desired might be radically different but your supposition – unless I have misread it completely – is that differences in product type (your example of phone plans versus ideology) require totally different techniques is, I believe, incorrect. The analysis techniques are most definitely different (obvoiusly pricing startegies don’t really apply to politics except in the most abstarct sense) but ideas like brand conversion / loyalty are pretty universal.

    So to reiterate, there are no discernible differences in the intent of / methods to induce behavioural change in a target population. Some types of marketing activity are certainly more effective than others, but all still apply to some degree or other.

    Comment by Gregor W — January 17, 2014 @ 8:55 am

  82. So the techniques are universal, but face-to-face marketing (a technique) cannot be used for every product (e.g, is not universal).

    I’m confused.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 17, 2014 @ 10:06 am

  83. Did I say “cannot be used for every product”? Thats an assertion you are making that can’t reasonably be proven, unless you have access to data for vast numbers of comparative product form and campaigns at your fingertips.

    I’m saying – I think quite clearly – that marketing techniques can be applied pretty much universally, irrespective off product. I’m not suggesting that some aren’t more effective than others (this is the dark art of marketing in a nutshell), just that the psychology is essentially the same no matter what you are selling, and broadly, the techniques are common.

    Which (again), as stated earlier was in response to your position “I think that the differences in political marketing and commercial marketing are obvious enough that they do not need to be pointed out…” which I interpreted as “axiomatically, successful commercial and political marketing is materially different in method”; something I don’t agree with (given my view that they are both brand value centric) and something I don’t think you have been able to adequately deomonstrate with your examples.

    Angels dancing on the head of a pin possibly….

    Comment by Gregor W — January 17, 2014 @ 11:51 am

  84. Angels dancing on the head of a pin possibly….

    Now THAT’S a microparty.

    Comment by Joe W — January 17, 2014 @ 2:07 pm

  85. What if a party gets 0.0001 percent of the votes? That would be a minor micro party, not to be confused with a major micro party or a minor mainstream party.

    Comment by Daniel Lang — January 19, 2014 @ 11:19 am

  86. “What if a party gets 0.0001 percent of the votes?”

    If the number of eligible voters in 2011 (4,029,618) is anything to go by, and if everyone who could vote had voted, I think that would mean that 4 people in the entire country voted for it.

    In other words, 4 of the minimum-500 required financial members (fewer than 1% of the party) would have voted for the party of which they’re actually paying to be a member.

    Minor micro indeed.

    Comment by izogi — January 20, 2014 @ 8:36 am


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