A look at the tracking polls for small parties helps explain what’s been happening over the last few days (larger interactive version here);
The Conservatives are only slightly higher than they were last election suggesting they’ll get 2.6% max. Probably less than that now that a seat has been ruled out and Conservative voters who saw their vote wasted back in 2011 might want to see their vote count this time around.
Craig’s strategy this year has been to try and target New Zealand First voters. That’s what National wanted him to do, and maybe there was some understanding that if he succeeded they try and help him out. I dunno. Anyway, it was a terrible strategy: most New Zealand First voters are soft Labour voters and the consequence for Craig attempting to target this unsympathetic demographic are that he’s toast.
I feel ambivalent about that. Sixty-thousand odd people voted for him in 2011, he has more of a mandate than an awful lot of sitting MPs – but the only reason he reached those people was because he happens to be rich. He’s talking about winning East Coast Bays in 2017, but I don’t know how much longer he can go on sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars a year into his political party. (That line from Citizen Kane comes to mind: ‘I did lose a million dollars last year. I expect to lose a million dollars this year. I expect to lose a million dollars *next* year. You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year, I’ll have to close this place in… 60 years.’ But I don’t think Colin Craig is Charlie Kane rich.)
Anyway, National’s refusal to help out Craig is why we’ve seen a sudden flurry of race-baiting from ACT and New Zealand First. They’re all competing for the same small pool of conservative elderly half-witted red-necks. Hopefully those votes will stick with the Conservatives and be wasted but they might give ACT enough votes to get Whyte into Parliament.
Winston Peters is well ahead of where he was at this point in 2011, and he made it over the 5% threshold very comfortably back then. He’ll be back again. Who will he go into coalition with?
A couple of weeks ago Colin Craig and Jamie Whyte showed up on one of the weekend politics shows, and both of them announced they probably wouldn’t be seeking Cabinet positions in a National government. Now, maybe its a coincidence that both of these political masterminds both had this same odd idea on the same day, but my guess is that it was an order on high from National’s leaders clearing the way for a nice, simple National-New Zealand First coalition. I still hear people saying that Peters is ‘unpredictable’ or that he ‘wants revenge on John Key’. I think the chances of Peters flipping a coin or picking revenge and going with a Labour, Greens, Internet/Mana et al are zero. He’ll be a senior Minister in the 3rd term National government. We might see Peters go even higher during the campaign as older Labour voters decide that Peters will ‘keep National honest’ and switch to him.
Finally, Internet/Mana really seems to have momentum and I think we can assume they’ll win at least one electorate seat, if not two. But it’s really hard to guess how they’ll perform on election day. Are the polls under-sampling all those cellphone only digital natives? Or will most Internet/Mana respondents fail to actually vote? I have no idea.
I do know that I’ve talked to a couple of students who are first-time voters who are ‘voting for Kim Dotcom’. He’s their big asset which is why he’s the headline act at all the Internet/Mana ‘Party Party’ functions. But he’s also, potentially, their biggest liability. Dotcom has promised that he’ll drop a ‘bombshell” on John Key five days before the election but National seems to have a few bombshells of their own that they plan to drop on Dotcom. Internet/Mana know that this is coming and their prominent use of Dotcom indicates they feel they can manage it when it does. We’ll see. It makes their result impossible to predict.