Redder wave for Labour, red faces for National

Marc Daalder

Marc Daalder

Wellington, Novermber 9, 2020

The Labour Party has won an absolute majority not just of the seats in Parliament but also of the popular vote. The official election results released on Friday, November 6, 2020 show that Labour won 1,443,546 of the 2,886,427 party votes in the 2020 election – just over 50%. The 0.9% gain on preliminary results meant the Party gained an extra seat. The Māori Party also picked up an extra seat off of the Party vote, while National lost two in exchange. ACT and the Greens are both stable on 10 seats, unchanged from the preliminary results released on Election Day. Special Votes difference Labour benefited from a distinctly red-green tinge to the 504,625 special votes that were only counted after October 17. These include votes from New Zealanders overseas and in-person ballots filed by people who were not registered in that electorate, either because they were away from home or were registering on the day. Special votes have historically leaned left, with Labour and the Greens generally picking up a seat or two from National in the final count. That is similar to the phenomenon playing out in the United States, where mail-in and provisional ballots that tend to lean Democratic have helped presidential candidate Joe Biden regain lost ground in a handful of key states. Greens overtake ACT In New Zealand, if the special votes alone were counted, Labour would gain 6 seats for a whopping 71-seat majority. The Greens would also gain two and the Māori Party one, while ACT and National would backslide by two and seven seats, respectively. On the real final count, the Greens overtook ACT to become the third largest party in Parliament, with 226,754 votes. The results also underscore the scale of the National Party’s collapse in electorate seats. At the 2017 election, National won 32 seats by a margin of 5000 or more votes – that is the point where a seat is pretty safely blue. Labour, by contrast, won just 18 safe seats in 2017. While Labour has now expanded that to 31, National has cratered down to just seven safe seats across the entire country – East Coast Bays, Pakuranga, Papakura, Southland, Tāmaki, Taupō and Whangaparāoa. At the same time, the Party lost the Party vote in every single seat save one – Epsom.  Jacinda Ardern gets highest margin Labour’s largest margin is 21,246 votes. That’s in the Mt. Albert seat held by Jacinda Ardern. Mt Albert is one of eleven seats that could be considered ‘super-safe,’ where the Party has a margin of 15,000 votes. National has no such super-safe seats and holds just one electorate with a margin of more than 10,000 votes – Simeon Brown won Pakuranga by 10,050. The red wave could have some negative knock-on effects for Labour down the line, however. In the United States, Republicans have managed to take back eight seats in the House of Representatives. Six of these were lost in the 2018 blue wave, when Democrats took dozens of historically red seat seats in suburban and rural areas. Struggle for Labour in 2023 Similarly, Labour could struggle to defend some of its new pickups come 2023. The narrowest margin in the country – just 163 votes – now belongs to Labour’s Willow-Jean Prime in the Northland electorate, which has not been won by a Labour candidate since 1938. While it boasts 31 safe seats, Labour also has 15 seats that, like Northland, have margins under 5000. The 2020 election also saw the highest turnout in more than two decades. Some 82.2% of enrolled voters took part – the highest since 1999. This may have been bolstered by the surge in advance voting. Just under two million people – 67.7%  of all voters – voted early. Special votes also reached a historic high, due in part to the ability to register to vote on Election Day. According to the Electoral Commission, 80,000 people registered or updated their details on election day.  Marc Daalder is a Political Reporter at Newsroom based in Wellington who covers Climate Change, Energy, Primary Industries, Technology and the Far-Right. The above article and images have been published under a Special Arrangement. The above story has been sponsored by  
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