National’s decision not to stand a candidate in the Mt Albert by-election may have rebounded on it with what appears to be a relatively higher vote for Labour in traditional National Party areas within the electorate.
This matches the anecdotal experience (reported in POLITIK on Thursday) of Labour’s candidate, Jacinda Ardern getting a warm reception in the National areas.
And possibly more ominously for National, it matches up with the experience of the Mt Roskill by-election where voters in traditionally National parts of the electorate simply did not vote.
Mt Albert and Mt Roskill are neighbouring electorates, and the swing away from National appears to be happening in the streets around Mt Eden itself.
This is ultimately middle New Zealand where the Maungawhau School polling booth (in Mt Roskill) was long regarded as a national bellwether polling place.
Where Maungawhau went, so went New Zealand, it was said.
Maungawhau is now less of a bellwether with houses worth well over $1 million sitting on its tree-lined streets.
There are cautions in drawing any conclusions from Mt Alert too.
And Mt Albert itself is changing.
Ardern got 10,000 votes against David Shearer’s 20,970 at the general election.
For a start the turnout was tiny — 12,971 voted compared with 35,716 at the general election.
In demographic terms, it is starting to look more like Auckland Central than Mt Roskill as the house values climb from Grey Lynn (which it now includes) along the harbour towards suburbs like Westmere on to Pt VChevaliuer.
Overall Ardern increased her share of the votes cast in the last election by 14% — that’s no surprise since National weren’t standing.
And of course, the total number of votes cast was much lower.
But what is fascinating is where the increase in her vote share was much bigger.
Selwyn Village, Pt Chevalier
Mt Eden, Telford Avenue
Pt Chevalier Primary School
Mt Eden, 443 Dominion Road
14 Mt Albert Road
Those figures can only be explained by previous National supporters voting Labour.
A senior Labour Party soruce some optimism in these figures.
“Of course voting is a little bit habitual, so those Nats who have voted fro Jacinda this time just because the Nats were absent are more likely to keep voting for her and maybe tick Labour as well,” he said.
Though Labour increased its vote by 14% — the Greens candidate, Julie-Anne Genter, barely moved her party’s vote past the last election when they got 8.8% of the electorate votes against 11.55% on Saturday.
Labour Leader Andrew Little said Ardern’s victory came at a time when it was never more important for a government to deal with problems like the housing crisis, health care underfunding and the multiple challenges facing schools to deliver better education results for our kids.
“Bill English couldn’t be bothered to front up and defend National’s record on housing, health and education,” he said.
“With Jacinda now confirmed in Mt Albert Labour will welcome a new list MP who is likely to be Raymond Huo.
National themselves were non-plussed by the result.
One senior party source told POLITIK that the party had saved money by not standing and had avoided making itself a target.