Greens 2014: What went wrong?

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:

Screenshot 2014-09-30 22.43.20

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.

Screenshot 2014-09-30 22.45.42

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.

Screenshot 2014-09-30 22.25.21

Phil Goff called a spade a spade, after extensive focus group polling.Screenshot 2014-09-30 22.26.12

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.

Noted leftist feminist Kim Dotcom

Noted leftist feminist Kim Dotcom

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.


2 thoughts on “Greens 2014: What went wrong?

  1. The greens party is an utterly useless organisation. I look forward to it being wiped out and down the gurgler within the short time ahead. It is an utterly useless rotten political party indeed.

  2. Strikes me around 3% of voters shifted from likely to vote green to actually voting NZFirst. To verify, compare the campaign average poll rating of both parties & see if my take is correct.

    Swing-voters are pragmatists who like to control the political center. Winston has a lengthy tradition of standing there midstream catching these fish as they swish between left & right. The natural idiocy of those who keep adhering to the leftist alignment of the Green Party 12 years after it became obvious to anyone with half a brain that it had reached its use-by date consists in allowing Winston a monopoly control of the political center instead of repositioning to compete with him there. I have outed myself as the originator of that leftist alignment here – it was necessary at the time!

    You’re right about the braindead campaign imagery. What kind of retard thinks braindead voters are likely to vote green?? The imagery of any propaganda needs to be evocative & resonate in the psyche of the target voter. Duh!

    The dirty politics media beat-up got zero traction with voters – there’s even a feasible argument that it induced undecideds to vote Key. Politicos involved demonstrated their collective cluelessness by not pointing out that there was no smoking gun. Public outrage eventuates as a natural reaction to wrong-doing. You cannot artificially create it by getting hysterical about the possibility of spying. Perception is reality and the reality of the situation is that fair-minded observers couldn’t perceive any flaw in Key’s handling of national security.

    So the greens went wrong both in failing to present swing-voters with a principled alternative to Winston’s centrism and in supporting the left’s phoney scaremongering attempt to conjure up moral indignation where there was no realistic basis for doing so.

    Hey, I like your style! Clarity of reasoning, insightful. Not at all fundamentally useless. For a young person, impressive. In a country full of human sheep, a refreshing alternative. Anonymity due to a need for self-protection I presume. Hope you do eventually outgrow that…

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