Political Business

Lessons on political strategy

Posts tagged john banks

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Key could save local elections

Evidence shows that John Key can increase turnout in local body elections.

In the 2010 NZ local elections, John Key made a personal appeal for people to vote. Almost half the electorate did.

In the 2013 NZ local elections, John Key did not get similarly involved. The result was a fall in turnout to 43%.

Maybe the answer to future turnout is John Key’s personal intervention?

It’s about as evidence-based as the bollocks spouted by those claiming that turnout will be better if we have new voting formats, media coverage, more information, civics lessons etc.

Filed under local elections turnout voter apathy john banks

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Epsom is not that simple

Pundits have overlooked voters in their rush to make the ACT and Conservative swap.

People are complicated, so we create stories that simplify things. But the story that the Conservative Party can replace the ACT Party in Epsom is a simplification too far.

In short, people who voted for ACT will not easily vote for Conservatives, if at all, because of the differences on matters of lifestyle preferences.

These are philosophical matters which are the most emotional, and most innate.

The simple story is possible because pundits discuss politics along one horizontal spectrum - the left / right divide (and because they willfully discount the smarts of the average voter).

If you look at politics using the left-right spectrum, then ACT and the Conservatives are both on the “right”.

But take a look at my estimate below of the ideological position of ACT and the Conservatives. They are polar opposites on matters of social / personal lifestyle choices.

People are similarly complicated and nuanced. They will not simply swap a vote for ACT for a vote for Conservative.

To discuss the concept as a possibility is not only politically naive, but is arrogant or ignorant of the sophistication of voters.

If ACT was not a choice, most ex-ACT voters in Epsom would far rather vote National, Labour or the Greens, than Conservatives.



Filed under act conservative epsom john banks political spectrum

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The value of campaign perspective

Many tactics employed in an election campaign fail because they are driven by emotions of the campaign team, rather than being about emotions of the voters.

A case in point are the tactics employed by the National Leader John Key to counter the CuppaGate saga two weeks out from a General Election.

There have been criticism and plaudits for his decision to lay a complaint with the police, and his claim that it was akin to a News of the World phone hacking.

I’m betting that the police complaint tactic was not a designed and considered response at all. I’m betting that it was a response driven by embarrassment.

I can imagine how it would have played out.

John Key would be fuming at the Herald on Sunday revelation that there was a tape of the conversation, and that the content was embarrassing. He would know the content was likely to be be at the least unflattering. There he was holding a huge media stunt he might have been talked into. And there, on the cafe table for all to see, was a recording device picking up all the random things he said in the discomfort of that moment.

He would be fuming at the cameraman. He would be fuming at media. He would be fuming at his own people for allowing the recording device to have been left there.

What would you say if you were one of the advisers responsible for that blunder? You’d divert blame. You’d blame the media. You’d join your boss in ranting against the unethical behaviour of the journalist. You’d infer all sorts of things about how that device had been left there.

In that situation no one in the advisory team would have been thinking calmly. The natural tendency is for the individuals to protect themselves, and for the group to turn together to find and face the enemy.

Thus, the campaign team may have decided to attack the enemy by complaining to the police. In their own minds it got each of them, and their group, off the hook.

It was possibly argued that the move would isolate the journalist, change the subject, warn off other journalists from using the content, and maybe even allow a claim that a police investigation prevented discussion of the matter.

We have seen that the tactic did not work. The media got fired up. They  continued to ask questions. Pundits speculated about the content. The issue obliterated all other election matters for at least four complete days.

The tactic, and its possible motivations, demonstrates the value of;

  1. Independent political counsel: it is essential to have a strong willed advisor who assesses and responds to situations without the blindness engendered by group¬† thinking and desperation borne from loyal ‘beleivers’.
  2. Self-awareness: being a political professional means being aware of your own emotional weak spots, so you know when to allow others to make a strategic or tactical decision.

Filed under political strategy john key cuppagate cup of tea john banks election election 2011 political tactics