Awaiting the finals: Media pundits election forecasts and Winston’s scenario setting

ACT/National/NZFirst negotiation team
As we await the torturously and unnecessarily delayed final results from last month’s (!) general election and ponder the possible permutations we see that – on prelimanaries from election night (14/10/2023) at least – the forecasts from the media pundits were not far wrong, indeed collectively they were quite right. There are skeptics who will isolate individual polls to show polling is wrong, but the pundits themselves, although reflecting the polling and being guided by it inevitably, made few major errors and their audiences should be glad to know the talking heads weren’t completely empty. It is reassuring that the element of the media providing insight into politics does seem to be attuned to the population – that despite their backgrounds and ideological quirks they do have a finger on the pulse.

The table shows the main parties in rows and their percentage party votes recorded in columns, the first being the actual election night preliminary vote count.

The next two columns are the projections made with the preliminaries known about how the specials will go and where things will land: Mr Edgeler (from Public Address 15/10/2023) and myself (from a post on The Daily Blog 16/10/2023). We mostly agree but he uses the 2020 results as a basis whereas I’m using the more realistic 2017 results with tweaks for where I think NZF was cresting and Labour were sliding at election day. The devil we know sits at 6.66% on my chart. We both project that Te Pati Maori will increase their vote substantially – and on the 4 electorates they took on the night it would mean most likely the single overhang would be eliminated and we go back to 120… however, this has been a hold-your-tickets razor close election from weeks out and Mr Edgeler’s projection that TPM will narrowly win another seat (Te Tai Tokerau) and will be within 100 in another (Tamaki Makaurau) means the overhang is back on plus an encore matinee beckoning that makes any possible hope of a clear National-Act majority impossible. Usually one or two here and there would not matter in a general election, but it sure does here and there and most of us knew it would.

The next columns are the pundits and their forecasts starting with myself and the editor of The Daily Blog followed by the RNZ ‘Caucus’ podcast group who helpfully made their forecasts together, Julian Wilcox, Lisa Owen, Tim Watkin and Guyon Espiner, then the last column is our old nasally midget nemesis David P (as in Palestine that his Zionist gang have wiped off the map) Farrar whose forecast is his Curia poll taken 04/10/2023. Farrar, quite rightly, prides himself on getting more accurate polling of the Green support by using the likely to vote respondents instead so eliminates the flakey students etc who don’t turn out. I wasn’t alone in overestimating the Greens, however that was because I thought Labour would be further below where they are (you know an even worse result, where they deserve to be) and that couple of percent would have moved directly to the Greens without shedding anything to the others. Funnily enough, National, the party that Farrar has his benign parasitical relationship with, was the party he very much underestimated. As for Mr Bradbury, the pundit brought to you by the letters T, H and C, I’m not saying he demonstrated an extreme partisanship absent in any other pundit on the table, or imply that his forecasts were outliers in any way, but… our dear comrade didn’t so much forecast the left result as set heroic targets for the inspiration of the working classes, and he didn’t so much forecast the right result as prophesised complete implosion of National under the internal contradictions inherent in their corrupt, oligarchic, form of colonialist capitalism and foretold the rise of reactionary facism of the far right in Act – let’s just say his numbers were ’emotional’ and leave it there. We will see who is ultimately the most accurate when the finals drop this afternoon.

Hasn’t it been sublime over these last three weeks watching Rimmer on his best behaviour, Luxo having Winnie over for dinner. None of them can say a bad word against the old fox as he howls like a loon insinuating conspiracy and bad faith at past imagined slights. It is hilarious. Winston could put on a chicken suit, start clucking, and they would probably start sqwalking and pecking and scratching just so he wouldn’t feel awkward. What have we got in the cupboard darling – corn, have we got corn?

Before the election I gave only a 20% chance that National and Act could pull off a majority, but they have had a zero percent chance since election night – no projection remotely feasible would give them that. They need Winnie. Does Winnie need them?

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NZF has plenty of leverage already just based on the kid gloves so far from his would be partners. What Winston really wants however is even more leverage, as he has enjoyed in previous election aftermaths, where he has two viable contenders either side.

Suicidally for Labour their leader ruled NZF out and gave up government thankfully on election night, capitulating spontaneously in the most shameful way. Jan Tinetti, the departing Education Minister, confessed to reporters at the airport that she was relieved she didn’t have to be Minister anymore. The parade of morose, hounddog faced losers filed in and out of the Labour caucus room and they looked every inch defeated. The useless and worst Minister of them all, ‘Angry Andy’ Little immedately resigned. Most extraordinarily they don’t want to be in government, they have insisted on casting themselves into opposition. I have never seen anything quite like this before. It is a shattering display of their thorough ineptitude. They are not hungry for it. They have no thought of it. I see the cynical dead pudgy hand of Grant Robertson behind all this, the supportive voice behind every disasterous counter-productive ‘captain’s call’ Chippy has made. Does he have to be pushed?

All this wanton self-harm by Labour limits Winston’s hand. Even now – or at least this week – Winston was using language that begged for Labour to put something together. Winston was asked in an interview with Sean Plunket on The Platform: people wanted change, what are the two main issues? He answered: people didn’t vote for change, they were just unhappy the previous government had failed to address the three main problems in this order,
1. Cost of living,
2. Crime, and
3. Health.

So there it is. Winston says the election result is not for change. Let that sink in. Government formation that officially starts after the final results are declared this afternoon depend soley on this one man’s opinion and view on matters. That is the only interpretation of the world that counts now. What he means is that this is not one of those elections where people just get tired of the same old regime and seek something, anything different like with Helen Clark’s increasingly nanny ministry, or a revolutionary or ideological tidal shift as in 1935 or 1984 and 87. Those three big issues were mishandled and became problems, it wasn’t wholesale or decisive change the electorate voted for.

Winston’s expertly political framing leaves the door open to his left if only there was a left left to be left.

How can a useless and inept government that fumbled be supported to continue in office? First off is that it is not automatically disqualified by there being a clear electoral mandate for change. Winston says there isn’t that mandate. No, no, I know what you’re thinking, but remember this is just everyone’s opinion (including most of the Labour caucus too) it’s what’s Winston’s reading of the tea leaves that matters now. So Labour are not barred on ‘change’ grounds.

Winston has also publicly disqualified the Ministers who deceived him and kept him out of the loop on the He Puapua/UNDRIP report, which is Mahuta and Jackson plus maybe others like Kelvin Davis, but not the whole cabinet. Sure, Winnie, in the last days of the campaign, made their list candidates get up one at a time, Putin-style, and state they will never, ever, ever, ever work with Labour, but then again Ian Paisley said never, never, never, never and ended up in coalition with Martin McGuiness. It’s always for the good of the country.

Winston wants a fall-back deal with the left so he can exert bargaining power with the right. If Luxon and Rimmer can’t indulge him he will have to go left and at that prospect he could end up with so much more than he would get out of the right. Listen to what Winston has said on the matter of coalition negotiations and what he instills in his caucus when they deliberate on the decision: you have to be completely neutral, put everything in the past away and just assess each deal on it’s merits. But the conditions seem improbable for that to get to that stage. .. until the maths is in front of people, they are presented in black and white and logic is applied.  If one bloc need NZF so does the other. It would have to be a visible purge, a different line up. If Labour (+Grn+TPM) can address NZF’s 3 big issues and National(+Act) cannot then they have a chance. A stint as PM while Labour goes through a leadership process would hardly be a concession.


  1. Over at the Labour Party aligned blogsite The Standard. The contest of ideas between those who want to stick with a neoliberal loser and those who want a fresh start is ramping up.

    The debate in The Standard will be launched “in a series of posts under a number of headings,” according to Mike Smith The Standard’s co-founder and author.,

    Will this contest be decided democratically by the Labour Party members or imposed by an inner party cadre?

    Those who want to stick with the current leader, are trying to limit inner party democracy as much as possible, and are seeking to bring in a vote of support for the current leader as quickly as possible without any debate or discussion and before any review can be held.

    Ad makes the best comment so far

    My opinion? In these troubled times, we need more democracy not less.

    • I agree. It’s clear nobody here saw the party video where all the senior NZF MPs absolutely confirmed they would not go with Labour this election and they all assume that Winston can be bought by anyone anytime. Show’s how little they know about who he is and where his lines in the sand are, especially now that it’s his last rodeo.

  2. Tim Selwyn writes of the Labour Party’s relief at not having won the election.

    “…Jan Tinetti, the departing Education Minister, confessed to reporters at the airport that she was relieved she didn’t have to be Minister anymore……
    ……Most extraordinarily they don’t want to be in government, they have insisted on casting themselves into opposition. I have never seen anything quite like this before. It is a shattering display of their thorough ineptitude. They are not hungry for it. They have no thought of it. I see the cynical dead pudgy hand of Grant Robertson behind all this, the supportive voice behind every disasterous counter-productive ‘captain’s call’ Chippy has made. Does he have to be pushed?”
    Tim Selwyn

    Why was Labour so reluctant to win this election?
    And so relieved they didn’t?

    Why did Chris Hipkins, according to David Cunliffe, cut Labour’s vote by 5% with his ‘Captain’s Call’? Despite knowing the harm a National Act administration would wreak on their working class, Pacifica and Maori constituency. 

    Early on in the election campaign, when it became clear that the Green Party and the Maori Party were doing better than expected, and that to form a government the Labour Party would have include the Greens and TPM. The Labour Party made it very clear that they didn’t want to be in a room where they would have to negotiate with the Green Party and the Maori to form a coalition government.

    In the end it came down to a choice;
    Labour had to choose to hold on to the Labour Party’s long standing commitment to neoliberalism, or choose to be moved to the Left by the Greens and TPM.

    Labour proved they would do anything to avoid being forced to negotiate with the Greens and TPM to form a a government, even sacrificing their own supporters welfare to an Nat/Act govt.

    As Chris Trotter likes to say, (and he would know).

    “The Labour Party leadership would rather keep control of the losing side, than lose control of the winning side”

    • Since the mid-nineties Labour have only ever been elected by virtue of not being National or Act.

      Labour ceased existing as a left-wing party during the 1980s and had garnered votes purely through deception over that decade.

      Throughout NZ working and middle classes have reaped increasingly lower proportions of the national wealth whilst concurrently being robbed of their stake in the Commons.

      For at least two decades mainstream media has made little or no attempt to examine, analyse or bring this process to the public attention beyond superficial magazine style TV current affairs programming presented by hacks and shills.

      That satisfactorily explains the essence of the NZ public’s voting habits.

    • Yeah, so true, makes me sick. Will never party vote Labour again even as a ‘swallow a rat vote’ to hopefully keep left in power. Didn’t work and makes me feel a traitor to my left roots. Never again. They are done for me for good. Yay T P M and Greens.

  3. Breaking News! An old Maori man dressed in a flash suit from up north started singing…”I have a band of men and all they do is play for me
    They come from miles around to hear them play a melody
    Beneath the stars my ten guitars will play a song for you
    And if you’re with the one you love this is what you do…”

    Someone was heard saying,”he’s done it again ffs!”

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