A deeper analysis of why Auckland is National’s fortress and Labour’s weakness

If you win Auckland, you win the country.

Despite all the talk of unaffordable housing, unchecked immigration and gridlocked roads, there is no mood for change in our biggest city. Or if there is, none of the other parties are doing anything to capture it.

National’s party vote held firm or increased in all but a handful of Auckland’s electorates. 

The main exceptions were Mt Albert (Jacinda Ardern’s electorate) and Auckland Central, which saw one of the biggest swings to Labour in the country.

All 10 of the electorates in which support for National increased by more than 2 points were in Auckland.

Many of those were heartland Labour territory in the south and west of the city, where National’s overall vote share is still small and Labour’s is large, but they also grew their support in blue strongholds like Botany, Pakuranga and Papakura.

Jami-lee Ross’ majority is massive (11,785 and 62.5% party vote), but new MP Simeon Brown managed to top that result with a stunning result (13,345 majority and 62.9% party vote). For a newbie with scant name recognition to outperform a third term MP is something special. Judith Collins (6916 majority and 53.1% party vote) also reversed the trend experienced in other electorates and grew her own majority and also the party vote. Another notable is Mark Mitchell in Rodney with a 17,678 majority and a 60.7% party vote. Compare that with supposed star Nikki Kaye with a majority of 1519 and a party vote of just 40.1%.

It’s often said that Auckland is a different country to the rest of New Zealand and votes as such, but if the swing to Labour away from National (and not just the minor parties) had been mirrored in more of Auckland, a change of Government would be looking much more likely right now.

And if Winston Peters feels obliged to throw his support behind National because they have more seats than Labour-Greens, they might say ‘it was Auckland what won it’.

The pre-election polls told us there was a groundswell of new support for Labour under Ardern’s leadership. She immediately took them from the low 20s into the high 30s.

Now the results are in we can see where that support has come from.

The biggest gains have been made in traditional heartland Labour territory (excluding south and West Auckland): Such as the Māori seats, and the urban centres of the biggest cities – Auckland Central, Wellington Central and Christchurch Central.

West Auckland is interesting. Labour’s campaign chair, Phil Twyford lost the party vote in Te Atatu, and Deborah Russell, the star tax recruit for Labour also lost the party vote to National. Only Carmel Sepuloni won the party vote for Labour out West. If Labour can’t win the West then they have no mandate to govern.

Twyford should hang his head in shame. If Labour does manage to form a government then his failures will likely be overlooked, and that will be to Labour’s enduring detriment.

 

-Fairfax

 


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