We all know who’s going to come in 1st and 2nd place in the election. But what about 11th or 12th? Minor party correspondent Alex Braae predicts where every party will finish.
Elections are fought on close margins, and sometimes the difference between winning and losing can be just a few hundred votes.
That’s true at the top end of the scale, but it’s also true for everyone else. The battle for 12th place in 2017 was particularly brutal – only 270 party votes separated the People’s Party, United Future, and Ban 1080. They might be playing for pride in this division, but what a psychological difference a few placings can make.
So who will have done enough to crack the top 10? Who will come out on top in some of the key inter-party rivalries? And most painfully, who will pick up the wooden spoon?
For the record, these predictions are not meant to be an expression of support or otherwise for any of these parties. They’re just somewhat informed guesses. You’re welcome to submit your own version here:
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Shocker first up. Barring the most extreme and unlikely swing in fortunes in political history, Labour will have the largest share of votes in the 2020 election. To make it a bit more of a prediction, I’ll go out on a limb and say they’ll be between 10 and 15 points ahead of second place.
There’s been a bit of hyperbolic commentary recently about the party being in a “death spiral”, but no collapse could possibly take it below second.
The first vaguely controversial pick, but on the balance of polling to date it makes perfect sense. The party has profited from a term of David Seymour directly targeting winnable voters on the right rather than attempting to appeal to a broad range of voters, and National’s difficulties will have pushed many supporters to switch. Seymour has also enjoyed a much greater media profile this election, in part because his backroom team is particularly speedy at getting comment out on any and all issues.
The Greens probably start with a larger core support base than Act, but have had more problems with their major party ally squeezing them. One thing that could see them slip into third will be if left-wing Labour voters decide to donate a vote to the Greens in an attempt to ensure an Ardern-led government. Most polls predict the Greens will stay over 5%, but it’s at the sort of level where it could be dicey on the day.
It hasn’t been a great campaign for Winston Peters, who has complained frequently about Covid restrictions limiting the ability of parties to campaign in his usual style. His party has also been in a bit of a bind, from being part of the government for the last three years, but also taken something of an oppositional position to it. Some candidates – notably Ron Mark in Wairarapa – have also run very hard to be electorate MPs, rather than necessarily going all out for party votes. A late rally in the polls should give them enough to get up to fifth place, but the big question will be whether it will be enough to get them to the 5% threshold.
The New Conservative organisation is surprisingly strong for a party outside parliament, they have candidates in every single seat, and a massive ground game in terms of hoardings around the country. On the day, that could manifest itself in enough socially conservative voters taking the risk of backing a party that may not make it in.
The surge for Advance NZ hasn’t really happened in the way that looked possible a few months ago, though again, they have a massive presence in terms of candidates and hoardings. The product of an expedient merger between Jami-Lee Ross’s political vehicle with Billy TK Jr’s Public Party, Advance has also had a very loud campaign, in a way that could turn out to be evidence of a wider groundswell, or could be a case of very committed advocates boosting them on social media. But the party’s message will only appeal to a small chunk of the electorate, and in that space there are plenty of options to choose from. Internal organisational problems also seem to be an issue, with candidate defections and in-fighting.
The Opportunities Party
For a party that appeared destined to collapse at various stages since the last election, TOP has run a surprisingly impressive campaign. But a lack of money and media oxygen will mean that many potential supporters simply won’t be aware that they’re still going. They also lost momentum this year after falling out with their Auckland Central candidate. And running in the “evidence based policy” lane is a tough sell this time around, because in a Covid election, a lot of parties are running hard on the idea that they listen to the evidence being given by scientists.
Of all of the parties outside the top four, the Māori Party has the best shot at actually winning a seat. And the endorsement of Mana Movement leader Hone Harawira will help. But up against the massive popularity of Labour, the campaign has pivoted towards only really asking for electorate votes. It’s a smart strategy to get some sort of win out of the election, but won’t do them any favours when it comes to the party vote rankings.
Calling it now, the ONE Party will be the sleeper hit among the minor parties. Support will come from the most committed sections of political Christianity, based on the message that they are the only explicitly Christian party running this year. That’s not a message that has broad appeal, even to the million-plus people who identify as some form of Christian, but for those who hear the word that will be powerful.
Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party
People forget this, but once upon a time the ALCP regularly cracked 1% in elections. They’re no longer up at that level, and haven’t even campaigned particularly strongly around the country this time, but have something in their favour that other parties don’t have – a referendum. A not insignificant number of people who might otherwise not have voted at all could get brought to the polls by a chance to vote for legalisation, and in doing so, might chuck a cheeky party vote in the direction of the ALCP, too.
The Social Credit campaign in 2020 has been by far the most impressive for a generation, built on new candidates and a re-energised leadership. They’ve also had the benefit of a massive increase in government debt, giving their monetary policy reform message some legs. It is unlikely to be enough to get them over the line, but it really can’t hurt to remind the many former Social Credit that they’ve been saying the same thing for decades, and the problems they believe their policies can address haven’t been solved.
A party that launched to massive media attention, but hasn’t really kicked on from there. A close link with the polarising Destiny Church will mean that some of those voters will turn out for Vision – but many other Christians will end up backing other parties. A poll showing leader Hannah Tamaki at just 2% in the key seat of Waiariki should sound the alarm about Vision’s prospects this time around.
Probably the most controversial placing on this list, because many will be expecting them to do much better. The problem is, its campaign has been basically nowhere, and garnered more attention for really weird stories and petty scandals. And while the potential constituency for this party exists (pro-business while also being pro-environment) elements of that vote have been locked up by a whole lot of other parties with much better prospects, including but not limited to National, Labour, the Greens and the Opportunities Party. It’s a pitch that requires voters to be operating in a relatively high-information environment, and if that is the case they’ll probably also be wary of wasted votes.
The Outdoors Party
Compared to 2017, the Outdoors Party has run with a very different strategy. It’s massively increased the priority it places on issues of “bodily autonomy” – in other words, anti 1080, anti 5G, anti compulsory vaccines, anti-fluoride and so on. In doing so, it’s managed to move into a space previously occupied by parties like the Ban 1080 party. Co-leader Sue Grey has also had a higher media profile than the previous leadership, and the party should do relatively well in Nelson and the West Coast. However, it’s also come up against a juggernaut in the conspiratorial space of Advance NZ, and has seen several candidates defect as a result.
The TEA Party
A very recent addition to the ranks of registered parties, the TEA Party is aiming to appeal primarily to immigrant communities, with a relatively pro-business and socially conservative platform. Co-leader John Hong did reasonably well in the last Auckland mayoral election, and the other co-leader Susanna Kruger has been making some fairly overt appeals to attract the votes of Afrikaner South African emigrants – a space currently dominated by the New Conservatives. But the experience of the People’s Party in 2017 would suggest that it’s a generally difficult space to break through, and a distinct lack of campaigning time will have hurt it.
The Heartland Party
Someone has to be last, and the Heartland Party’s strategy would seem to doom it on this list. They’re running candidates in a few rural electorates with the aim of creating an overhang, caused by winning more electorates than the party vote would otherwise allow. In fact, they’re not even really campaigning for the party vote. Add in the fact that the party is almost totally unknown, and has only been registered for a few months, and you’ve got a clear wooden spoon contender.