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Frank Newman

ELECTION 2014 – the winners and losers

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The votes are in. While politicians spin the results, the numbers tell the story. So who won? Who lost?  And why?


National is celebrating an historic victory; Labour has the knives out for David Cunliffe; and Hone Harawira is still in a state of shock.

The party vote election night results are:

Party # Votes % Votes Seats (2011)
National Party 1,010,464 48.06% 61 +2
Labour Party 519,146 24.69% 32 (-2)
Green Party 210,764 10.02% 13 (-1)
NZ First 186,031 8.85% 11 (+3)
Maori Party 27,074 1.29% 2 (-1)
ACT 14,510 0.69% 1 0
United 4,533 0.22% 1 0
Conservative 86,616 4.12% 0 0
Internet MANA 26,539 1.26% 0 (-1)

A total of 2,112,522 votes have been counted. The final election result can be expected on Saturday week – October 4 – when the 254,630 special votes will have been counted, and all votes recounted.

The 2014 parliament will have 121 seats, an overhang of one as a result of Peter Dunne winning Ohariu but his party United Future gaining just 0.22 percent of the vote.

At this stage, 6.2 percent of the vote has been wasted – 4.12 percent from the Conservatives, 1.26 percent from Internet-Mana and the balance from a number of minnows, including 895 votes  from Brendan Horan’s NZ Independent Coalition Party.  That reduces the effective vote count to 93.8 percent, so National’s 48.06 percent becomes 51.2 percent or 61 seats in a 120 seat Parliament.

Based on the election night result the National Party can govern alone because of the wasted vote. The irony is that a large percentage comes from the Internet Mana Party. I’m sure many will see justice in that!

The winners and losers when measured by changes in party vote from their 2011 result (2008 change in brackets) are:

Winners Losers Winners and Losers
NZ First +2.26% (+2.75%) Labour -2.79% (-6.86%) Conservative +1.47% (+2.76%)
National +0.75% (+3.06%) Greens -1.04% (+3.9%) Internet -Mana +0.18% (+1%)
ACT -0.38% (-2.58%)
United Future -0.38% (-0.26%)
Maori -0.14% (-1.04%)

Historic win for National 

National achieved its best result since 1951.

Historic defeat for Labour

Labour had its worst result since 1922.

Labour’s vote continues to decline. At 24.69 percent its vote is down 2.69 percent on 2011, which was itself down 6.86 percent on 2008.

After the 2011 election, I made this comment: “It’s a major defeat for Labour. It has clearly lost touch with the electorate, and in my view in two ways. It is advocating policies that simply do not connect with the values of mainstream New Zealand. Having a caucus of yesterday people is a major problem. Labour had the opportunity to replenish its ranks while in opposition. It didn’t and has now lost some MPs who were seen as their future talent pool.  If they are to effectively challenge National in 2014, Labour will need to rethink its policies, personnel, and indeed more fundamentally its approach. That is unlikely while the unions remain the dominant faction within the now diminished Labour caucus.”

The very same comments are relevant today.

Labour has serious problems. At one time Labour used to represent workers. In a two party system it was the party the working class most identified with. Under MMP voters now have choice – 15 parties contested this year’s election. Workers are now choosing parties other than Labour who better relate to their circumstances and aspirations.

The only workers Labour now appeals to, is a relatively small segment of low paid workers. They are the only ones that appear to be supporting Labour in any numbers.

Can Labour reverse the decline? It could but I doubt it will. Change will be difficult given the stranglehold the union movement has upon the party and the apparent unwillingness of the likes of David Cunliffe to accept the reality of defeat so obvious to others. The truth is Labour is the political arm of the trade union movement and the influence of the union movement is embedded into every sinew of the Party. Another obstacle is many of Labour’s MPs really do still believe in the notion of exploitive capitalists and repressed workers. The problem for Labour is the people it needs to vote for them don’t.

A battle is developing within Labour – it’s going to get ugly.

Monumental loss for radicals

Kim Dotcom has failed spectacularly. Internet-Mana only managed to attract 1.26% of the party vote, and they lost the very seat they took for granted. Laila Harre’scredibility has been destroyed – a fair outcome for someone who sold out principle and distorted reality throughout the campaign. The Internet Party is likely to disappear, and Mana will return to its role as the standard bearer for radical Maori, organising hikois from hell.

Hone Harawira has paid a high personal price for grabbing Dotcom’s money and influence instead of holding onto his principles.

Greens go nowhere

Despite the appearances of an election night celebration, behind the facade the Greens will know the election result is a blow. Throughout the campaign they talked up their prospects of building their vote and one day knocking Labour off its perch. I believe the Greens have achieved as much as they are every going to achieve from their target constituency.

Their highest party vote support came from Wellington Central (28 percent), Rongotai (25 percent), Auckland Central (21 percent), Dunedin North (22 percent), Mt Albert (20 percent), Port Hills (16 percent) and Christchurch Central (15 percent). This appears to reflect their support from young voters and females from well-to do professional households in big cities. Without that support they would be a 6 percent fringe party of environmental alarmists. The Greens have placed themselves in a cupboard by sitting to the left of Labour. They are a long way from replacing Labour as the main opposition party and now are at risk of losing their third largest party status to NZ First.

A winner but not in government

With its party vote up to 8.85 percent from 6.6 percent in 2011, NZ First continues to rise from its defeat in 2008 and may be on the cusp of establishing itself as a long-term centrist party. Another three years in opposition will give it the opportunity to build for 2017. They now have experience and talent in their caucus, especially Ron Mark. He may be their future. The wild card may be the return of Shane Jones to New Zealand politics, and most likely to NZ First.

A winner but not enough of a winner

An election side-show was the battle between NZ First and the Conservatives. It was won by NZ First – increasing their vote by 2.05 percent against 1.32 percent for the Conservatives.

The Conservative Party was a winner by increasing their vote from 2.8 percent to 4.1 percent, but not enough of a winner to secure a place in Parliament. In the end, their votes benefited the other parties in proportion to that party’s share of the total vote. There is a place for the Conservatives on the right of politics, especially when National’s popularity fades, but it does need to campaign smarter and appear more as a credible party and less as a one-man crusade.

A seat of special interest to the Conservatives is Napier, previously a National seat. It was won by Stuart Nash with a majority of 3,733 for no reason other than the presence of Conservative candidate Garth McVicar who gained 7,135 votes and split the centre-right vote. Had the Conservatives targeted this seat much earlier it may have secured an electorate accommodation with National. Such an accommodation in the future will be easier now that Labour holds the seat. Just as Epsom is critical to Act and National, Napier could become critical to the Conservatives and National.

Stuart Nash’s hold on the Napier seat is temporary. If he is to be returned to Parliament in 2017 it will have to be via a high list placing. This no doubt explains his bid for the leadership of the Labour Party. In reality it’s a bid for the deputy leadership and the #2 spot on the party list.

Disappearing ACT

ACT’s party vote is down to 0.6 percent – just 14,510 votes. ACT is now becoming a Peter Dunne type party, and has some serious issues to deal with if it wants to be more than one man and a bow tie. A huge amount of work and fresh thinking will be required to resurrect the Party. With National likely to move to the centre during its third term, more space will be available to ACT on the right – but can it overcome a tainted brand to take advantage of the opportunity?

The Maori shuffle

This election saw the further erosion of support for the race based parties, Mana and Maori. The combined vote for the Internet-Mana and Maori parties was 2.6 percent, slightly up on 2011 at 2.3 percent (albeit with the influence of the Internet Party). Only the Maori Party is now represented in parliament.

It is further evidence that New Zealanders do not support race based parties.

Six of the seven Maori seats have gone to Labour. Given Te Ururoa Flavell supports National, National is hardly likely to be persuaded that this is the right time to abolish the Maori seats – and neither will Labour as it tries to rebuild its voting support from Maori. No doubt it will target Flavell’s seat in 2017 to pocket the last of the seats.


Voter turnout was 77 percent up from 74 percent in 2011.

In the seven Maori seats 53 percent of the registered voters voted, up from about 50 percent in 2011.

There are 234,283 voters on the Maori role.


A unique feature of this year’s vote was the prevalence of advance voting. Over 700,000 advance votes were cast (compared with 330,000 in 2011 and 270,000 in 2008). That’s a staggering 30 percent of all votes cast. The growth is probably because more people are now more aware of it than previously.

It had been assumed that advance voting would favour the left. This has been proven not to be the case. The advance vote is a very close match to the final result and on the night, the final result could have been called (within one seat) after the advance votes had been counted at 8.30pm.


Advance votes should not be confused with special votes, which are votes cast outside of a voter’s electorate.  There are 254,000 special votes. They are not included in the election night count and may affect the result.

In the past specials have favoured the Greens at the expense of National. That may not hold true this time given the dirty politics saga has galvanised voters on the right to support National.

The Labour Party is most at risk of losing a seat (#5 on the list, Andrew Little), followed by the Maori Party. The National Party is the closest to gaining a seat, followed by NZ First.

In short, if there is any movement on the specials it is most likely to be a gain to National, NZ First, or the Greens; and a loss to Labour.


The politicians were not the only ones being judged on election night. So too were the polling companies.

This analysis compares the last published poll figures for the predicted party votes for National, Labour, Greens, NZ First, Maori, Internet-Mana, ACT, United Future and the Conservatives. Five polls commonly reported in the media were compared.

Also included for comparative purposes is the ipredict “polling” (which is not a polling company as such but a market place where punters place dollar value bets on expected outcomes).

When comparing the absolute variance between their predicted party vote and the actual vote the results were:

Variance Rank
Herald Digi 4.4% 1  Best
Stuff-Ipsos 7.7% 2
TVOone Colmar Brunton 8.1% 3
RoyMorganResearch 8.1% 3
Ipredict 10.5% 5
3News Reid 13.1% 6 Worst

Clearly the standout best predictor was Herald-DigiPoll.

The worst performer, and to a very large degree, was 3News.

A notable feature was ALL polls over-estimated the Green vote.


As always, the media ran the election agenda. They dined out on dirty politics and the Dotcom sideshows. With a few exceptions, in this election they failed to drill down into policies to question the lines fed to them by party PR people. Largely the public looked past all the media noise to the real issues.

The public got tired of the sideshows. Unfortunately, bigger questions over the capital gains tax and the big lies like income inequality, affordable housing, poverty, the effects of an increase in the minium wage… were not addressed in any critical manner by the mainstream media. This is primarily due to the media’s fixation with sensation – either reporting it, or making it, when none existed. Too few were prepared to put in the hard yards to really understand issues like the capital gains tax.

One hopes the media, like Labour and many other parties, will also reflect on how well they have served the public and what they need to do better.


So who won? National, NZ First, Digipoll, John Key.

Who lost? Labour, Internet-Mana, Greens, ACT, Maori Party, the 3News Reid poll, Kim Dotcom, Hone Harawira, Laila Harre, and the media.