25 Sep 2017

National's grip on Akl, provinces tipped election - analyst

From Nine To Noon, 9:09 am on 25 September 2017

National's strength in the suburbs and provinces was overlooked by a media with an inner-city mindset, a political commentator says.

Matthew Hooton & Stephen Mills

Matthew Hooton & Stephen Mills Photo: RNZ/Dru Faulkner

Mr Hooton said the demise of provincial radio and the news agency NZPA has resulted in a dearth of political coverage from the provinces during the election campaign.

Saturday's election delivered neither major party a clear majority and both now need to secure the support of Winston Peter's New Zealand First to form a government.

"I think the New Zealand media is very, very dominated now by people who, broadly speaking, live in Auckland central and Wellington central and we've seen an inaccurate assessment of the overall election campaign," Mr Hooton said.

Speaking on Nine to Noon, Mr Hooton said this urban skew overstated the so-called "Jacinda Effect" by overlooking equally enthusiastic support for National leader Bill English in the provinces and suburbs.

"We've seen a very urban, liberal, under 40, probably female perspective of the election," he said.

Also on Nine to Noon, Stephen Mills agreed some interesting tussles in the provinces got scant media attention.    

"There was very little about Napier which was interesting because the McVicar [Garth McVicar, the founder of law and order lobby group the Sensible Sentencing Trust] vote actually got Stuart Nash over the line last time with a spilt vote.

"This time he's won it on his own and there was hardly any attention on that."

An interesting contest in Whanganui, where Labour had high hopes for candidate Steph Lewis, was also overlooked, he said.

"There was a contest there, National were aware of that because they promised a roof over the velodrome."

Although Labour's recovery since Ms Ardern became leader was dramatic, the party convinced enough voters in Auckland and the provinces, Mr Mills said.

"There's no question Auckland was the key to National's high vote. National was ahead in the party vote in Te Atatū, New Lynn and Mt Roskill."

Mr Hooton said outside of central city electorates it was National's day on Saturday.  

"Labour has not made inroads into the provinces, and it has not made inroads into west Auckland."

National had racked up some "huge majorities" in Auckland Mr Mills said.

"Seats like Rodney and Botany and so on.

"If you're a Labour voter there you're completely surrounded by National voters."