Mike Williams aka Fat Tony has a column in the Hawkes Bay Today about Steve Joyce’s Northland debacle.
MAKE no mistake, the outcome of the Northland byelection last Saturday is a political boilover of seismic proportions.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters won one of the National Party’s safest seats with an election night majority of more than 4000 votes, erasing a National Party majority of over 9000 votes in the general election just a few months before. Winston Peters’ final majority is likely to increase when the nearly 1000 newly-enrolled special votes get included in the total.
This 13,000 vote turnaround is unprecedented in our political history, but it is the internal dynamics of Peters’ triumph that should give Prime Minister John Key and National Party campaign manager Stephen Joyce pause for very serious reflection.
Apart from a governing party losing a safe seat, two statistics set this contest apart from any previous byelection. About half of the voters chose to cast their ballot before election day and the level of participation was huge.
The early voting phenomenon is unprecedented, and it exceeds a trend in recent polls.
The turnout level is a genuine abnormality. It has been a rule of thumb for years that byelection turnout levels are half of the previous general poll. The Christchurch East byelection saw 13,000 electors vote compared with the 28,000 who had voted in the previous general election.
This is the established pattern.
Northland broke that mould. With 28,000 voting in the byelection, this wasn’t much short of the 34,000 that voted in the general election five months before.