The results are in…

Note: this post originally appeared on ‘Douglas to Dancing’, a blog I maintained from 2007-9 on the ACT New Zealand political party. The blog was an extension of the thesis I wrote about the Act Party in 2007, From Douglas to Dancing: explaining the lack of success of ACT New Zealand and evaluating its future prospects (PDF).

Well with a quite respectable total 51 votes, readers have voted on what they think will realistically be ACT’s share of the party vote this year. The outright winner was the 4-4.9% segment, with 11 votes (22%), with 2-2.9% and 3-3.9% tied on 10 votes each. Going to show this blog is non-partisan, the very unlikely 7% or more band was favoured only by 9 voters and the doomsday scenario (for ACT supporters) of less than 1% had no support at all.

With some luck, I think it’s plausible that ACT will get over the 4% mark on election day. There are enough voters on National’s right who would prefer a more decisive stance on the economy and a more hardline position on crime. With the deterioration in the economy over the past few months, ACT’s call for wholesale change begins to look more appropriate – if not exactly appealing. Locking up criminals for a long time also appeals in hard times. ACT offers both of these.

Equally, I think it’s quite plausible that ACT will come in at considerably less than 3% – perhaps around the 2.5% mark. With some unfavourable polls for National, right-leaning voters may decide that they had better swing in behind their team and not risk the prospect of a Labour-led government (even though a vote for ACT should not engender this).

If ACT is to improve, it must keep bringing across its strategic benefits to voters – and thus pointing out its relevance. In recent weeks ACT has attempted this by stressing that a vote for ACT is a secure vote for a National government: as Hide says, “A Party Vote for ACT will ensure John Key makes a difference”. The challenge is to gain access to the swing National-ACT voters and make them believe that they are not wasting their vote by choosing ACT.

In this respect one drawback for ACT is its deprivation of “air”, caused by the absence of an all leaders’ debate. This would have given Hide the chance to put his ideas directly alongside National’s and could have forced John Key to enunciate his position on ACT to voters.

I’ll keep the blog poll results up until the election and we’ll see what happens.

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