Get a feeling it is a little like 2002?
Elections in New Zealand haven't been the same since 1996 when MMP meant that "winning" wasn't all it used to be. However, sadly, neither the media nor the public have fully got to grips with it. The simple truth is that it is extremely unlikely that National will get to govern alone, just as it was the same for Labour in 2002.
A cycle has commenced. In 1999, 2002 and 2005 Labour cobbled together coalitions, in 2008 National did, and it will likely do so again. However, it cannot be guaranteed. You see after one term, with a media essentially presuming a simple result, voters get complacent.
National will desperately want to ensure it gets a good turnout, for it will fear a low turnout will mean things are far closer than usual. Bear in mind MMP means that it is getting party vote out that counts, and that means all electorates. The flipside is that Labour will also be seeking a turnout, when it knows most assume it cannot win.
Yet it isn't quite as simple as that. 2002 is an object lesson for the two main parties, because it saw a significant shift in votes.
In 2002, Labour saw polling say it might win an absolute majority, yet it gained only a small swing of 2.5% in its favour, primarily because it gained at the expense of the Alliance. National was decimated.
One interpretation of what happened was that support for the government, which had been slim, shifted around a bit, from the Alliance to Labour and the Greens. There isn't quite the same parallel for National. The Maori Party isn't a natural ally, and ACT is more likely to face fear of oblivion seeing its support go to National.
In 2002, the decimation of National was due to an assessment by many of its supporters that it had no chance, so they voted for United Future to give Labour a tolerable coalition partner. This time, it is Labour that may be seen as having little chance, but Labour supporters aren't going to back Peter Dunne the same way (why would they? he is back to being a one man band), unless he gets some lucky media traction.
Some Labour supporters may choose to vote Green for the same reason ACT did better in 1999 and 2002, because they prefer a more principled opposition.
This time round there is another dynamic - the Maori seats.
Mana Maori is making them a three horse race, and my pick is that it benefits National.
You see, Mana Maori is more likely to take votes from the Maori Party than Labour. Odds are this will not see Mana Maori pick up seats besides Hone's one, but could decimate the Maori Party. It could eliminate the Maori Party overhang (but create a one seat one for Mana Maori), which can only benefit National. Moreover, if Labour has a clean sweep of the Maori seats, the overhang is gone, but it only takes seats away from Labour's list allocation. It can only be good for National.
Except of course, if ACT doesn't get Epsom or North Shore, and National is just short of 60, and Peter Dunne isn't enough.
National is playing its traditional game, being the classic "do next to nothing" party that saw it win most elections since the war. It impresses the masses who like the smile and wave. Labour will get out its core vote of public servants, low level aspirational control freaks, beneficiaries and some of the working classes. What's left is who votes for the other parties.
The Greens have the clearest consistent brand for those who want someone else to do the thinking for them, or at least the emotive neo-Marxist posturing. It's the party for people who believe the end is nigh, but also those who think they know best for other people. The classic authoritarian party.
ACT is on its last legs, on life support, but still offers - just - a more "National than National" party with policies that are closer to National's own principles.
The Maori Party has shed its most racist, Marxist, pro-violence wing in the form of the Mana Maori Party. However, will it have satisfied its supporters? Has it handed them enough in coalition?
Beyond that, we are saying bye bye to Jim Anderton's personality cult party as he retires, and Winston Peters is having another go at attracting malcontents, but most of his past voters have passed away. Peter Dunne faces his repeated challenge from two sides, and the only minor parties that remain outside that which have survived are the Alliance retards, Libertarianz and the ALCP.
Of that lot, only three parties offer any hope of less government. ACT has a leader who talks the talk, and policies that mostly face the right way. Libertarianz is consistently pro-freedom, with a nicely refreshed lineup, and ALCP maintains its single policy.
I hope to do a bit of a quick review of the main people on the party lists and the electorates, if the psephologist in me gets the time.