Another voter thinks through the election possibilities

When I’m out and about, the general public rarely start conversations with me about politics.  But they are naturally occurring now due to the election and voters are thinking through their options.

As we were discussing hoardings, she said  “I think I’ll vote ACT this year, so they can have another MP, but only if the polls look like they are close enough to a 2nd MP so I don’t waste my vote”.

I pointed out this is ACT’s problem.  It is in fact any small party’s problem.  Unless they are polling 3-4 percent prior to an election, the average voter will pass them by.   And for the non-average voter, like my coffee date, ACT going from one to two MPs seems a good way to help National.

I didn’t prompt her any further.  But then this stream of thought came out.

“I’m not voting Greens or Labour.  I might have voted Labour if Jacinda was the leader, but Little is a creep.  That leaves National, ACT, NZ First and that TOP thing… what’s it called?”

“The Opportunities Party”, I venture.

“Yes.  That one.  How much does he poll right now?”

“One.  Two percent maximum”.

“I’m not voting Winston Peters.  He’s a terrible man.”

I pointed out that even with two or three MPs, National and ACT looked like they wouldn’t have a majority, and that Winston would have to be there.   I also pointed out that Winston would not need ACT, so how does that sit with her voting for a “second MP” to help National out?

“Will Winston go with Labour?”, she asked.

“Highly unlikely”, I told her.

“But he might want to be Prime Minister.”

I explained that a Labour/Green/NZ First coalition only has a number of choices.  Prime Minister Andrew Little, Prime Minister Metiria Turei and Prime Minister Winston Peters.

She didn’t like that at all.

“Surely he can’t be Prime Minister when he goes with National?  It could never happen.”.

I agreed it was unlikely, but I pointed out that Bill English was responsible for Winston Peters getting kicked out of the National party and that an interesting reckoning was lying ahead for the coalition negotiation.

She decided that Bill wouldn’t survive as leader if Winston had enough leverage.  Who was the Deputy right now?

“Paula Bennett”.

“Oh, nobody likes her.   And anyway, it’s not up to Winston is it?  It’s the National party that choose its own leader.”

I asked her where that left her vote.

“Two ticks National…. I guess”, she said.

I pressed her:  “How does that make you feel?”

“Terrible.   What a choice we have.  English and Winston or Little, Turei and Winston….”

I suspect she’ll stand in the voting booth and stare at the ballot paper and make a gut call on the day.   But it goes to show that National’s support is not because people agree with their policies.  And Bill English is no John Key.   But the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.

As for helping ACT get a second MP, unless you are specifically interested in rebuilding ACT as a party and a brand, there isn’t any real benefit from having two MPs for the next electoral cycle.

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