Labour's at risk seats

Back in January I blogged this, given Labour’s parlous poll ratings and 6 more months of appalling results it is pertinent to blog it again with some modifications. So following on from yesterdays post about the Labour list MPs, it would pay to look at the ten most marginal seats held by Labour.



Labour MP

National Can­di­date

National EV

Labour Ev

















Christchurch Cen­tral







Palmer­ston North














Welling­ton Central







Port Hills







New Lynn







Hutt South






Making some assumptions about the polling numbers and some rough guess work about total electorate size we can look at which seats will be under threat.

  1. There was a gap of 11% in 2008 between National and Labour.
  2. Current Polls put that gap at between 20-25%
  3. The total vote of an electorate is about 35000.
  4. 1% equals 350 votes.
  5. To be conservative the table below shows the number of votes if the gap between National and Labour is between 11% and 25%.
Poll Gap Number of Votes to National
11% 0
12% 350
13% 700
14% 1050
15% 1400
16% 1750
17% 2100
18% 2450
19% 2800
20% 3150
21% 3500
22% 3850
23% 4200
24% 4550
25% 4900

It is pretty safe to predict that National won’t get 55% of the vote because it would be totally without precedent. Labour’s vote might fall well below 29% if Labour voters decide not to turn out, and there is a precedent, 2002 when Mr 21% killed off a good number of National’s caucus.

If the gap between the parties goes to 14% and is extrapolated across seats National will take Waimakariri, Rimutaka and Christchurch Central. If the gap expands to 17% National will pick up Palmerston North and Mana. This may not happen if Labour has a popular incumbent, with Clayton Cosgrove being a likely hold despite Crusher handing him his head in the house as he does a good job in the blue seat of Waimakariri. However all bets are off if ACT does a deal with the Nats where they choose not to stand candidates in seats like Waimakiriri as a quid pro quo for the Nats standing aside in Epsom. If this happens then Clayton Cosgrove is a goner.

We must also consider the impact of the earthquakes on Christchurch electorates. Christchurch East could be intersting with estimates of up to 4000 red zone Labour voters disappearing.

What all this means for Labour

At current poll ratings Labour might as well not bother wasting resources on marginal National held seats. They won’t win any of them, and if they waste resources trying all they are doing is gifting National seats like Rimutaka, Palmerston North and Mana. The battle ground for this election is going to be the Lower North Island, the last marginal area in the country to fall to National. Hekia Parata’s stunning by-election result makes it highly likely she will win Mana, if given proper support by the National Party. The chances in the other seats depends on getting candidates of the calibre of Hekia.

What it also means is there could be another five Labour MPs wanting a safe list position, meaning under 35. This just increases the potential for an epic internal battle for list places. As everyone in politics knows the bloodiest scraps are those between factions in the left when they forget who the real enemy is. Goff’s poll numbers will turn a feral bunch of troughers into survivalists, and a Darwinian battle is likely to follow.

Maybe Goff can do some fundraising by making this Pay Per View as it will be a lot more interesting than MMA. Noth­ing beats watch­ing rats gnaw each other to death for a blood sport.

My next post will be a compare and contrast of List MPs vs Losing Constituent MPs.


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  • Cosgrove will increase his wafer-thin majority. Much as I dislike him, my spies tell me that he has been a tireless worker for his constituents since September 4th. That also explains why he’s not getting his butt handed to him as often by Crusher Collins these days.

  • tooright

    You are correct he seems to be working hard for his electorate – against all other distractions.

    What’s not known is how many Reds have left the electorate though. He doesn’t need to lose much of his core to be in deep trouble. Anecdotal evidence suggests the decimated areas hold the labour supporting booths.

    Acts of God may finish what Crusher started.

  • rouppe

    I can’t see FaaFoi losing Mana.

    I’ll try, and vote Parata, but my party vote isn’t decided yet. National have been a bit too timid for my liking, but I’m not going to vote Act if they go all rabid

  • Rimutaka had the “Ron Mark” factor last election – he got 4000 votes. However, the anecdotal evidence I heard is that a number of blue voters went with Hipkins to keep Mark out due to Winston claiming the race was close (it sure was, but Mark didn’t feature.)

    If you add all the party vote of NZ First to Labour the party vote difference is about 1900 votes – still Nationals for the taking.

    The one seat not on the radar is Mana – if National didn’t win it at the by-election then it won’t win it at the general election. The vote of Faafoi was held back by his carpet bagger status (There has not been a local selected as a replacement in the Porirua/Mana seat since the 1963.) Bussed in union members keep stacking selection members in favour of Labour HO endorsed candidates.

  • cadwallader

    Labour’s idiotic Lees-Galloway didn’t win Palmerston North, National’s dim-witted candidate, Plimmer lost it. Palmy was the only provincial city not to move to National in 2008. The Nats lost it by selecting a tired colourless old loser to stand.

    • reid

      Massey and all those lefties have become quite influential there cw.

      Hard to defeat all those willing feet.

      Used to be naturally conservative 20-30 years ago but gone now. Ruled by the reef-fish with the Massey sea-anchor always weighing you heavily down…