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New Zealand Election Update

New Zealand elections are conducted using the MMP voting system - Mixed Member Proportional. Its defining characteristics are a mix of MPs from single-member electorates and those elected from a party list, and a Parliament in which a party's share of the seats roughly mirrors its share of the overall nationwide party vote.

It is a proportional system, which means that the proportion of votes a party gets will largely reflect the number of seats it has in Parliament.

Each voter gets two votes.

The first vote is for the political party the voter chooses. This is called the party vote and largely decides the total number of seats each political party gets in Parliament.

The second vote is to choose the MP the voter wants to represent the electorate they live in. This is called the electorate vote. The candidate who gets the most votes wins. They do not have to get more than half the votes.

Under current MMP rules, a political party that wins at least one electorate seat OR 5% of the party vote gets a share of the seats in Parliament that is about the same as its share of the party vote.

For example, if a party gets 30% of the party vote it will get roughly 36 MPs in Parliament (being 30% of 120 seats). So if that party wins 20 electorate seats it will have 16 List MPs in addition to its 20 Electorate MPs.

Coalitions or agreements between political parties are usually needed before Governments can be formed.

Going into this election, National governs with the Support of United Future and its MP for Ōhāriu, Peter Dunne, Maori Party and their MPs and Co-Leaders Te Ururoa Flavell, MP for Waiakiri and Marama Fox who was elected as a List MP and is the Maori Party Candidate for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti and David Seymour from ACT who is the MP for Epsom. 

This election comes on the back of some major changes in New Zealand politics. Firstly, with the mid-term resignation of John Key and the ascension of Bill English to the top job. In this election, he seeks a mandate in his own right. Secondly, we see the mid-campaign resignation of Opposition Leader Andrew Little and the ascension of his Deputy Jacinda Ardern. Her rise to the leadership with Kelvin Davis as her Deputy Leader has given the Labour campaign a new momentum and energy that Labour has not seen since the election defeat of Helen Clark.

This has seen Labour's poll numbers rise to 32.5% according to Roy Morgan, 37% according to UMR and 33.1% (Reid Research). While UMR traditionally has a Labour bias, all three polls show National falling but Labour making most of its gains from the Green Party who have seen support fall since the resignation of one of its Co-Leaders, Metiria Turei.

At the last election, National achieved its best result under MMP, winning 60 seats and Labour had its worst election ever. The Labour Party’s share of the vote in 2014 (25.1%) is the lowest it has achieved in any MMP election to date; it is also the lowest share for the Labour Party in any election since 1922 when its 23.7% vote share was third-highest behind the Liberal and Conservative parties.

There are 25 MPs who have self-identified as being of Māori descent or 21% of the total Parliament; there are a record eight MPs who identify as being of Pacific Peoples ethnicity, or 7% of the Parliament; there are five MPs who identify as being of Asian ethnicity, 4% of the Parliament.

Our analysis of recent NZ wide polling is that either National or Labour would need the votes of New Zealand First and Winston Peters to govern.

Newshub-Reid Research poll has New Zealand First at 9.2% and third in the party standings. This poll has neither the Greens-Labour Coalition and the National-ACT-United Future Coalition couldn't govern without New Zealand First. 

According to the TVNZ-Colmar Brunton poll the Green Party could be out of Parliament as a result of the Labour new leader's popularity and the fall-out from Metiria Turei's resignation. The Greens have dropped 11 percentage points to 4 percent, according to the TVNZ-Colmar Brunton poll - its worst result in the poll since 2009. In this poll, New Zealand First polls at 10%.

With United Future Leader, Peter Dunne resigning from Parliament as the MP for Ohariu; this leaves National in a dangerous position of not having enough support party MPs without Winston Peters.

It should be noted that in neither poll, National polls over the 45% 'firewall' it needs to be sure of its majority against the Labour-Greens Coalition.

What we are seeing in New Zealand with the rise of Ardern is similar to what we saw in the United Kingdom, the condensing of the vote around the major parties as voters sure up their major party and move away from 'split' voting, which is normally voting differently between the electorate vote and the party vote. 

Therefore, with an election on September 23; people should be watching for the following:

  • How high can the 'Jacinda Effect' take Labour?
  • Can the Greens recover? 
  • Can the National vote get above 45%

We also say to people to watch the debates. John Key was an excellent debator and gained momentum from the debates. Right now the momentum is certainly with Ardern and with Bill English moving to centre his campaign on spending commitments to arrest the momentum back from Labour, the debates will be key. 

The anti-politician is now mainstream and politics has an authentic deficit disorder

With Teresa May heading to the Queen to form a government with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) it follows one of the worst election campaigns ever seen from the UK Conservatives.  

This was a campaign where the Conservatives blew a 20% lead at the start of the campaign and wound up losing their majority. 

It has been another example illustrating that without the influences of run-off voting systems or proportional voting systems (aka France and Holland); yet another leading campaign has run into a cocktail for political disaster, complacency, expectation management failure and authenticity deficit disorder.

The fundamental premise of this campaign, from the framing right through to execution, was that the Conservatives couldn’t lose. When they realised they could lose, the scare campaign was ramped up. Yet this was far too little and late to stem the bleeding.

However, whilst Corbyn has picked up a bit over 30 seats, he is still well short of a majority in the House of Commons. Despite increasing Labour’s vote share and adding millions of extra votes to the Labour tally, there is still a fundamental weakness in the Labour vote; a fundamental inability to take out marginal tory seats and to capitalise on the poor campaign of the Scottish Nationalists. In summary, the Labour vote was coming off a low base.

This election saw a pitch for a 'strong and stable' government fall flat.

The anti-establishment nature of the referendum campaign has scrambled the foundations of British politics. May was intitially a ‘remainer’ now advocating for a tough line on Brexit (or ‘hard brexit’ as many describe it). Jeremy Corbyn is an acolyte of Tony Benn, the leader of the hard left-wing of the Labour Party through the 1970s and 1980s and Michael Foot, the author of the manifesto which became known as the ‘Longest Suicide Note in History’. Corbyn was an early supporter of a Brexit, then campaigned in the referendum for ‘remain’ and now supports a Brexit once again.

On the backdrop of this scrambling was a Conservative campaign that refused to engage in TV debates, ran a campaign that wasn’t based on connecting with the mainstream and often appeared aloof. This was followed by a manifesto which attacked the Conservative base voters (see social care funding, ending the pension ‘triple lock’ and the famous ‘dementia tax’) that was never going to be rewarded.

Labour’s gains are also even more interesting, considering that the Corbyn campaign was often attacked for not doing enough to win back marginal seats.

Britain has seen a referendum campaign end their membership of the European Union and effectively seen the end of ‘New Labour’ all in the space of two years. Yet, what is again being missed in the majority of post-mortem conversations is that the trend is global and there are lessons for the future. But what is 'the trend'?

There is a global trend (and there has been for at least seven years) amongst western electorates, which don’t have proportional election systems, to now back to the ‘anti-politician’ politician regardless of political philosophical divides. The 'anti-politician' often taps into a resentment of existing institutions. Also known as 'anti-establishment' politics. In electorates where authenticity has been a perceived problem, the ‘standard’ campaign based on presentation, photo opportunities and three word clichés are not working (note ‘Strong and Stable’ and ‘Jobs and Growth’)

This is also prefaced on the fact that the ‘anti-establishment’ politician needs to rise inside the framework of establishment parties. This can be seen most recently with a Donald Trump Republican presidency. This is not as easy nor as random as it may seem.

For example, Jill Stein can’t mobilise a Sanders-style movement in the American left. Likewise, Hanson and Bernardi won’t be able to lead parties of government in the Australian mainstream system and the best that New Zealand First and Winston Peters can hope for is a role as a ‘support party’ (again) to a National Party government.

It is very important to also note that there is a difference between ‘anti-establishment’ and ‘populism’. The concept of politicians using budget measures to ‘buy’ support well and truly pre-dates the rise of the ‘anti-establishment’ concept.

In the United States, we witnessed Hilary Clinton be attacked on two flanks - one from the philosophical left and one from the philosophical right. In the Democratic Primaries she lost 22 states to Bernie Sanders; a Corbyn-esque, dedicated Socialist independent Senator from Vermont who energised a base and built an engaged movement. Not unlike the ‘momentum’ movement behind Corbyn.

Despite Clinton surviving the challenge on her left, she failed to stave off Trump, perceived to be on her right, who perfected the anti-politician image, turned out his voters; but more importantly her campaign failed to bring out the voters mobilised by first Obama, then Sanders; Millennials, Latinos and African-Americans. Her turnout fell dramatically which allowed Trump to win.

In this new political reality, however, Clinton was a career political professional attempting to fend off two anti-politician campaigns that were always going to cannibalise her vote regardless of which traditional philosophical divide they may have been perceived to represent. 

In Australia, Barnaby Joyce will get some enjoyment to see that the electorate has finally caught up with him. He has been prosecuting this argument well before the rise of the ‘anti-establishment’ politician around the world. Australia is full of politicians trying to bring this together; between Pauline Hanson, Cory Bernardi, Bob Katter and Derryn Hinch; they all don’t get anywhere near the standard of Barnaby Joyce and his ability to do this, despite being the junior Coalition partner in an unpopular government.

However, if Anthony Albanese wins the leadership of the Labor Party in Australia, Malcolm Turnbull would almost be electorally unable to win. Albanese has figured out how to master this on the left in the Australian context, without the status of trying to do this from inside a minor party.

If the Coalition doesn't recognise and get across this anti-politician trend with effective strategies, they won’t win in 2019. If the Nationals in New Zealand don’t see the events of the UK and US as something that can manifest itself in New Zealand too, they will see a much larger New Zealand First and a more powerful Winston Peters.

Welcome to the mainstream where the anti-politician rules. 

Tech in Politics

Politics and media are both fields that are constantly in a state of flux, growth, and change. A brief re-cap of the history of digital electoral campaigns provides a useful starting point for exploring the role that social media plays in political campaigns. Political use of the internet in electoral campaigns started in ninety’s, however, from the year 2000 onwards, the increasing prevalence of the internet was the catalyst for a new level of electoral tactics in social media. With millions of internet users around the world, various countries started to consider the use of social media much more prominently in their political campaign strategies. 


In 2008, campaign for the United States presidency marked a significant shift in the importance of social media in electoral campaigns. When Barack Obama ran for president, social media sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter were at the center of a huge investment in his strategy. Robertson, Vatrapu, and Medina conducted an in-depth examination of campaigns of presidential candidates Obama, Clinton, and John’s Facebook walls and what individual users wrote. The study concluded that President Obama had significantly higher engagement than his counterparts. It is clear from this study that the level of followership significantly increased engagement, which in turn helped to secure the win. 

Since then, monitoring boom of social media began on the back of evidence from political and communication strategies around the world that showed the contribution that social media could add to campaigns. Tools that are available to these politicians to carry out social media analysis play very important roles such as; they are predictive rather than reactionary, and they are far more accurate. These tools have the ability to help politicians by raising awareness of their campaigns and establishing a platform for dialogue. In addition to that, social media also may have the ability to predict the actual outcome of an election. A study by Tumasjan, Sandner & Welpe (2010) examined several key ideas such as Twitter as a reflection of political sentiment and whether Twitter could predict the results of the election, which demonstrates that the number of mentions the party received matched very closely with the results of the election polls.


As more and more people use social media to communicate their view and perception of elections, researchers have increasingly been collecting and analyzing data from social media platforms. When a political party engages its constituent using social media channels, they would be benefited by gauging whether the policy idea works immediately. They will know instantly the climate of those conversations, they can see how successful their message was delivered and how it got their constituents engaged in conversation. Once they have determined that, then they can craft next strategy according to what was popular and what was not.  


Last but not least through monitoring social media one can access the data collected using third party cookies of the audience producing a demographic report. This report can give valuable information about audience’s gender, age and most vital their interest of helping politicians orient a successful campaign. 
 
 

Sunshine Coast Mega Poll: The results

On the night of 30 November 2016, Gravis Insights Australia (GIA) made 67945 calls into the the Local Government Area (LGA) of the Sunshine Coast beginning at 6pm. The poll results have been weighted to account for gender and age differences.

The poll has a margin of error of ±2.1% at the 95% confidence level.  The total may not round to 100% because of rounding.  The polls were conducted using interactive voice response polling, with the results weighted by select demographics.

1) Please nominate your age bracket?

2) Please nominate your gender?

3) What do you deem the biggest issue on the Sunshine Coast to be?

4) When it comes to election time, which party do you normally vote for?

5) On a scale of 1-5 with one being strongly oppose and five being strongly support; how do you generally feel about the issue of new development across the Sunshine Coast?

6) Are you a member of your local community ratepayers’ association or similar entity?

7) Do you believe that the State Government does enough to help the Sunshine Coast Council prepare the Coast for the population targets that it the State Government sets for the region?

8) How do you see the issue of infrastructure funding for your community?

9) On height limits, do you believe that high rise developments should be confined to the CBDs and specified tourist precincts?

10) Inside CBD and tourist precincts, do you believe that there should be a higher level of flexibility to ensure that community benefits and that development propositions are approved?

11) Do you feel that Council is acceptably professional and transparent in the approval of development applications?

12) Do you believe that the whole community has enough input into developments that are approved in the community?

13) Do you believe that protest groups that form around developments are truly representative of the needs of the whole Sunshine Coast?

Call Blasting

Connecting with potential voters, customers and clients is always much more effective when you use phone blast services. In general, people become more at ease and trusting when there is a one-on-one connection. This is why Gravis Marketing offers targeted phone blast services that permit political campaigns, businesses, non-profit organizations and community groups to capture accurate data during their voice activated marketing efforts.

Gravis Marketing has pioneered the marketing industry in recent years with technical advancements that provide campaigns with effective tools, such as call blasting, and software to better reach their intended audience. However, as branding and public relations experts, we also comprehend the benefit of personal connection – which is why we’ve developed a voice broadcasting service that can be customized to enhance your marketing and research efforts.

Call Blasting with Gravis Marketing provides a political campaign, business, non-profit or any organization with several benefits including:

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Gravis Marketing offers our clients a voice broadcasting call blasting platform designed to handle thousands of calls. We use voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP), which means your survey, poll, political campaign, or non-profit program can make more meaningful contacts in less time AND achieve greater results.

Personalize Options for Live Callers or Answering Machines.

People do NOT like cookie cutter messages. It’s even worse when your voice recording is stale, generic and non-interactive. This is why Gravis Insights Australia offers you the luxury of customizing personalized voice messaging for either live caller interaction or answering machines. When the call receiver answers their phone, they have the option to ‘Press 1″ for more information. This activates the multiple voice recording options. When a caller does not answer, the default answering machine recording is then activated.

  • Issue alerts, notifications and voter reminder messages.
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Manual dialing is expensive, labor intensive and time consuming. Our customized phone blasting services which can be easily activated through use of Gravis Insights Australia’s robocall service will accelerate your campaign connection programs forward to levels of success you expect to achieve. Contact our team today to learn more about the Gravis Insights Australia’s Voice Broadcasting call blasting services today.