Monday, June 20, 2005

Predicting the changing seats...

David Farrar, when making predictions about the forthcoming election makes the dodgy assumption that "no electorate seats change hands". The only reason why David would make this is due to the 2002 elections. Then National's share of the party vote was significantly well below the votes it gained in the list seats so that the party vote cannot credibily used as a measure of assessing the swing towards national in the upcoming election. So what can?

There is the total votes cast in the electorate seats themselves. One may reasonably raise the argument that this cannot be used as a popular candidate may gain more votes than a party entity may expect to gain. To counter this, I will make the (IMO reasonable) assumption that the electoral candidates are likely to be an equal mixture of strong and weak candidates. Hence any excess votes gained by a popular candidate will be negated by a drain created by a weak candidate.

Totalling the electorate votes cast in the general seats, I calculate that Labour won 43% (which accords fairly with its actual party vote share of 41%) and that National's party vote share would have been (if it actually campaigned properly) 31% instead of the 21% that it had actually received. On the current polls, Labour's share of the elctorate vote will remain static while there will be a 12% swing towards National.

So what seats will change hands? On my calculations, eight general electorate seats will fall from Labour to National on the assumption of a uniform swing. The seats are:
Banks Pennisula: Ruth Dyson gets ousted and David Carter gets in. Both are well-known in the area and either can expect to be returned through the party vote if they lose the electorate.

Hamilton West: Dianne Yates gets replaced by Tim Mcindoe. I'm dubious about this as the National Vote in the last election was based on the strong candidate of Tony Steel, who isn't standing again.

Invercargill: Eric Roy, who has experiece as an MP, re-enters Parliament. Mark Peck, the current Labour MP, is retiring while I don't known anything about Wayne Harpur as his biography on the Labour site is empty.

Napier: Chris Tremain ousts Russell Fairbrother. While Chris is new, Russell is a one-term MP who only became PPS because the Attorney-General, Michael Cullen, didn't have a law degree. Much depends on how well Russell did as an MP.

Northcote: Ann Hartley is replaced by Jonathon Coleman. Ann Hartley appears strong as she has been mayor for many years although there is a curious gap in her biography as to what she did between 1992 and 1999.

Otago: Jacqui Dean ousts David Parker. Jacqui is new but has local government experience while David is a one-termer who took the long-time National seat with a slim majority.

Wellington Central: Mark Blumsky ousts Marion Hobbs which will make DPF cheer and Jordan sad. Mark is a strong candidate having been a popular Mayor of Wellington while my memory of Marion's bumbling performance during her first term leaves me incapable of making an objective assessment about her. She has learned how to keep her head down since then, which is good, but how well this will serve her electorally remains to be seen.

Whanganui: Chester Borrows ousts the paintstripper Jill Pettris. Presumably her caucus colleagues will have their fingers crossed.
While I've put much emphasis on candidate strength in assessing the soundness of my predictions, I should note that this may not count for much on polling day. For example in 1990, Phil Goff lost Mt Roskill to the execrable Gilbert Myles.