Over the next few posts I’ll look closely at the Greens’ election result, questions about the party’s relatively poor performance, and calls for the Greens to shift to the centre (or that there should be a blue-green party).
One of the big surprises of the election was the fall in Green votes. Despite polling strongly prior to the election, the Greens received only 10.02%. Of course, Labour’s abysmal failure stole the limelight, but the decrease itself is interesting.
There has been a bit of speculation about the drop, but until there is better data available there is no way of knowing the reason for sure. While speculation is interesting, it is not that illuminating. As Nate Silver famously stated, ‘punditry is fundamentally useless’. Of course, if being fundamentally useless stopped bloggers, we wouldn’t have Bomber Bradbury. So prepare for punditry.
My view is that some of the following factors may have been at play:
A weaker campaign from the Greens
‘Love New Zealand’ was a muddled message with average billboards. The concept was too clever by half. At a glance (which is all most voters pay), the message was contradictory. The billboards didn’t obviously link the image to the message to the imperative to vote Green. The kids’ lunch box image in particular was confusing. The eye is drawn to the bright apple and shoes, when it is supposed to notice the lack of shoes and lunch. It’s hard to draw people’s attention to the lack of something, especially when the absence is hidden behind white letters. In contrast 2011’s Jobs, Rivers, Kids was a superb valence issue-based campaign.
No Rena on the reef
Environmental tragedy aside, the Rena was manna from heaven for the Greens in 2011. That’s a pretty craven assessment, I know, but it’s true. It provided a great opportunity for Russel and Metiria to don white overalls for photo ops, which provided a nice contrast to the bumbling Phil Goff.
Blue-greens didn’t feel safe voting Green this time
The perception that the election would be close meant National voters concerned with the environment did not flirt with a Green vote. As I’ve previously shown, there is a pool of thousands of socially conservative voters who are concerned with the environment. They might lean green when the Nats are safe, but in tough times they flock home.
Dirty politics sucked up all the oxygen
As Russel has himself noted, this campaign focused a lot on Dirty Politics. It was hard to promote your policies when the coverage was dominated by a political proxy war between Nicky Hager and Whaleoil, with a cameo from Eminem.
Fear of Cunliffe and/or Dotcom
The stench from these two may have spooked the horses, pure and simple.
Lost protest votes
Conversely, Internet-Mana may have stolen some of the protest vote.
In the next post I’ll discuss Gareth Morgan’s call for a new blue-green party and Duncan Garner’s claim the Greens should be willing to offer confidence and supply to National.