The harsh truth about party popularity

Ignoring the party faithful, the true battlefield for votes lies with the voters that change their minds.

A lot.

They are fickle.  They are single issue voters.  They are emotional.  They are… idiots.

Analysis of why this is so hasn’t been clearer than the case study we have before us over the last few months.

I’ve often said that money can’t buy you results.  And that is true to an extent in the sense that many aspiring politicians, like Colin Craig, think that the money can buy him votes.  Money is certainly a necessity – but what you really need is relentless exposure.  

This is mostly why, in the run-up to the election, the likes of Peters and Dunne seem to make disproportionate gains.  The rules around election coverage and “fairness” means they get a disproportionate amount of media exposure.

It all comes down to recognition.  Name recognition.  This is an Absolute Truth at local body elections, and it also works at national level.

We’ve seen a very good example of it when Labour had their 3 week free nightly media coverage during the Labour Leader election “primary”.  The polls taken after Cunliffe was made Lord of the Flies didn’t reflect a new hope – a tectonic shift – a saviour appearing to fill a void.

Instead it reflected 3 weeks of relentless publicity.

And as that focus on Cunliffe has disappeared, so have the “votes”.

To drive the point home, Russel Norman was squeezed out of the limelight, Winston has been more active with his usual scare tactics, and as a result the Greens’ media exposure has plummeted.

Result?  Poll is down.

It is also interesting to note that this apparent support “for Labour” was as long lived as it took for people to get distracted again.

The election will still be close.  For National to take out a 3rd term with a clear majority would be amazing.  But it shows why the battle for the 2 or 3% of of voting nut cases is so intense.

It is the people that go “oh, he’s a supportive Dad” or is seen with the All Blacks or other solid reasons why to pick your next government are going to decide our futures.

Sadly, for Labour and David Cunliffe, the change of the Captain of the Titanic doesn’t make the ice berg any smaller.


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  • Phar Lap

    Great comments ,eat that Liebour, and NZ economy destroyers, the commie Green Taleban.

  • rockape

    I agree Cam. Big thing though is the advantage of attack politics, Labour gained a bit of traction with that. National can do so too. Getting stuck into Labour and the Greens foolish policies is a must. Not only does it expose them for the sham they are it gives National exposure as the media love a good line. Time National started feeding them the lines, not leave it to Labour and the Greens. The last few weeks when both those have had little to get their teeth into shows in the polls. Go back a few months when they had GCSB to play with and you see my point!

  • Hazards001

    Sadly the truth is the battle for the 2-3% of nut cases can never be won by the Right.
    It is the true breeding ground of the greens and to a lesser extent their partners Labour.
    Nationals decision to piss away the opportunity to abolish or at least reform MMP is one we will rue for many years as we are held in the thrall of the less than 10% of moronic single issue nut jobs that would prefer to see the country go to hell in a hand basket if their pet polices aren’t followed.

  • Patrick

    If it is all about exposure & money is a necessity then it is easy to understand why Labour wants electoral finance law reform. Wouldn’t do if National had some benefactor to provide funds to spend on advertising……like the Unions currently do for Labour.

  • Eiselmann

    I have friends who jump between Labour and National , thing is , for them at least they don’t see the difference between National and Labour, despite myself and others explaining the gulf between the two parties. However they have consistently voted National for the last three elections for one reason…the Greens. They all hate ACT but know the influence of ACT is minimal….they all hate the greens and fear the influence the greens will have over Labour
    So while I agree with much of what Whale Oil has said about floating voters, my personal experience is that they hate extreme politics and a few of them at least, vote National as a protest vote against the Greens.

  • Reid

    Many floaters aren’t idiots, some are but many aren’t. It’s just they don’t understand politics because they’re not interested in it. They spend their spare time outside of work thinking about other things like sports or movies and they turn their minds toward politics only for six weeks once every three years. Those of us who comment on political blogs however have a deep grounding in it this is why we can see straight through political b.s. when we see it. But we’re the exception not the rule.

    Lefties have a much much better understanding on the floaters minds than conservatives do. This is why for example, Hulun spent so much time talking about jobs. She didn’t do anything about it, she merely talked it, a lot. And she was talking to the floaters. Because they do read the papers and watch the news on telly and by the time the election rolled around the jobs meme had so much airtime in their heads all she had to do was remind them of the meme and wham, they hallucinated Liarbore was really really caring in that dept.

    It’s a stark contrast with how Key’s govt has operated in this area. They could have done the exact same thing – talk talk talk about jobs jobs jobs but no, nothing, nada, zip. Consequently the meme that all this govt cares about is big business who are great meanies is allowed to be setup in the floaters minds and that meme has now been well bedded in.

    That’s how to manage the floaters. You set up constant messaging between the election cycle on themes you intend to capitalise on during the next election and you start doing that from day one of the cycle and you keep all the relevant ministers hammering away at it every time they do an interview.

    It’s pretty obvious isn’t it, but notice that this is all the lefties do because their policy settings are so lousy that memes are all they have and consequently they’re very very very good at setting them up and taking advantage of them. But the conservatives by contrast rely on their policy settings to do the talking but because the floaters don’t pay attention to these and wouldn’t know a good or a bad setting anyway because they’re politically ignorant, they never pick up on the good the conservatives do and instead take their lead from the lies that the lefties spread about them.

  • Phil

    Its not in the Lefts interest to find jobs for everyone. if they achieved that even by accident their support base would dry up. They know this.

  • drummerboy

    And that’s the problem with MMP and 50% ‘winner takes all’ democracy”. The whole country is held ransom by a bunch of indecisive idiots.