The Art And Guile Of Vote Splitting

Published: Mon 15 Sep 2014 10:53 PM
National appears to have trained its supporters well in the tactical issues around splitting their votes.
An analysis of Roy Morgan polling by data company Qrious (link to original release) shows voters in National-held electorates are less likely to split their vote, indicating they understand the two ticks slogan pretty well.
The analysis also shows voters in Ōhariu are the most likely to vote for a different candidate than their party vote. The analysis covers polling data of enrolled voters taken from December 2011 to April 2014 when most people would not have been concentrating on the election. This could indicate after years of voting in Peter Dunne as the electorate MP, voters have become conditioned to splitting their vote and are ready to do so again.
Epsom only ranked in tenth place in terms of the percentage of those indicating they will be split-voting. This would be of some concern to National and ACT, but it also might reflect the years of bad publicity for ACT and its former Leader John Banks which came in never ending waves following his election in 2011.
Since that time David Seymour has been campaigning hard in Epsom and National has clearly given its supporters the message to back Seymour. Epsom voters in the past have “held their noses” and voted in the best interest of their party and most will realise without ACT, National’s chances of forming a Government become a bit more difficult. Likewise whether Labour and Green voters hold their noses and vote for National’s Paul Goldsmith could still potentially influence the outcome.
Traders on iPredict think it is likely both Dunne (Ohariu) and Seymour (Epsom) will win their seats.
The analysis also shows those in Labour held electorates are more likely to split their votes. This is an indication of the strength and the weaknesses of the left parties in the election. Labour’s electorate MPs are supported by Green voters, but some of the Labour/Green electorate seems to slip to other parties.
This was notable in the Wellington Central in 2011, where the Labour and Green electorate candidates picked up more than 23,000 votes (Grant Robertson won comfortably with almost 19,000 votes), compared to National’s 12,000. However National picked up 15,000 party votes and while the combined Green/Labour party votes were more at over 20,000, they did shed some support - presumably to National as well as other parties.
The only National held electorate to indicate high levels of split voting in the analysis was Nelson. In 2011 Nelson was held easily by National’s Nick Smith with 18,000 votes compared to Labour Maryan Street’s 11,000, while the Green candidate picked up 2,000. In comparison National picked up just over 16,000 party votes, Labour 9,600 and the Greens 5,600.
The potential for split voting to change the make-up of the next government is most obvious in helping ensure ACT and United Future get over the line. One of the side effects of split voting can be the creation of overhang seats in electorates like this bringing in MPs without wider party vote support.
When MMP first began in 1996 some strategists did consider some more startling arrangements to enforce the overhang and force its supporters to split the vote. The idea was for National to split into two parties for election purposes with one party only contesting electorates and the other only the party vote.
Under this rather bizarre arrangement there could be unusual outcomes.
For instance, in one scenario National’s electorate only party (say the Country Party) could pick up 30 seats and zero of the party vote, while National could pick up 40% of the party vote and no electorates. In an election where the Greens received 15%, Labour 30%, NZ First got past the 5% and there was the current smattering of small parties, there could be a Parliament of 150 with the Country Party getting a 30 seat overhang and National picking up 50 MPs for a total of 80 MPs. A majority for National’s two parties despite losing the party vote to the Labour/Greens bloc.
The brainstorming idea was quickly dismissed for numerous reasons, most notably that it would be perceived as rorting the system and get a furious backlash from voters.
Some believe the current winning of an electorate seat and the party potentially bringing in more MPs despite getting less than 5% is a rort, but it is the rules as they stand and it could benefit the left as well if Hone Harawira holds Te Tai Tokerau.
However unlike National in Epsom and Ohariu, Labour has campaigned hard making it likely to be a close run thing, which could spell the end for both the Internet and Mana parties.

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