I was thinking about this famous verse from a Baxter poem this morning:
On Calvary Street are trellises
Where bright as blood the roses bloom,
And gnomes like pagan fetishes
Hang their hats on an empty tomb
Where two old souls go slowly mad,
National Mum and Labour Dad.
And wondered: is there any historical data on demographics in NZ elections from the 1950s and 60s? Was National Mum and Labour Dad really a thing?
Update: Jackpot! From the comments, Swordfish linked to a post on this very subject written in July 2014;
Even before 1960, however, some enterprising university-based political scientists managed to carry out a small number of pre-Election polls in individual electorates. The first was in Wellington’s Mt Victoria seat in 1949. There were at least two more, one in 1957 (by R.S Milne in Wellington Central) and one in 1960. They tended to choose highly marginal seats on the basis that, given their limited resources, these could be considered a rough approximation of the Country as a whole. And their detailed data yielded some quite valuable insights. It had long been believed, for instance, that women were more socially and politically conservative than men and thus more likely to vote National. (Hence, for instance, James K Baxter’s “National Mum and Labour Dad” in his Ballard of Calvary Street). Milne found that, although this common assumption was indeed true in Wellington Central, things were a little more complex than that. His poll suggested single people were at the extremes – single men far more likely than anyone else to vote Labour, single women far more likely than anyone else to vote National, withmarried couples much closer to each other in their political sympathies (albeit withmarried men still a little more Labour-leaning than married women).