Alan Knight threw down the challenge some days ago: Who will dare to predict the outcome of the current Waiheke Local Board election? In the tradition of inrushing fools, here goes:
The first task is to estimate the size of the A-Team and Essentially Waiheke bloc voters, those whose ideological commitment drives them to vote for a party line. To do that we need to look at the 2010 and 2012 election results.
In 2010, as many observers remarked, left-leaning votes outnumbered right-leaning ones but were scattered amongst so many Greenie contenders that only one of them got onto the Board. In that election 3857 voters partipated, casting an average of 4.43 votes per person out of the 5 permitted. Thus there were 17,104 votes cast. If we add up the votes for Denise Roche, Andy Spence, Paul Waldon, Marijke Ransom, Dorte Wray, Colin Beardon, Ewen Sutherland, Charissa Snijders, and Millie Watkins, we arrive at 8722 votes or 51.1% of the total. At 4.43 votes per person, that’s about 1969 Green-leaning voters.
On the other side, Faye Storer, Jo Holmes, Don McKenzie, Jim Hannan, Herb Romaniuk, and Graham Hooper took 7797 votes, or 45.6% of the total, representing about 1760 A-leaning voters. I’m making some simplifying assumptions here, and ignoring some candidates entirely as ideological unknowns, but the political split that emerges looks suspiciously like the 53-to-47 split in 2011 over the Esplanade closure.
By 2012 the left side was united behind Paul Walden, who took 1154 of the 2791 votes cast, or 41.3%. The other side is harder to measure, as not much was at stake for them; but if we take the two candidates who are now endorsed by Jerry Flay (Graham Hooper and Sue McCann), plus Herb Romaniuk, we come up with 1101 votes, or 39.4%. Voter turnout was lower, but the totals still show a rather close ideological divide, with the left side still slightly larger than the right.
Projecting these numbers forward, let us assume that (1) voter turnout will be about midway between 2010 and 2012, or about 3249 voters; (2) the size of each side of the ideological divide will also be about midway between its 2010 size and its 2012 one; and (3) about 80% of each side will cast their votes in a bloc, for all of the candidates in one team or the other. The other 20% will split their votes, either because they have reservations about one or more members of their preferred team, or because (like George Washington) they oppose party discipline in principle. Add these to the voters who genuinely have no ideological preference, and we have a sizeable group of independent voters.
Following those three formulae we arrive at 1249 bloc voters for the Essentially Waiheke team, 1145 for the A-team, and 855 independent voters.
The trick, then, is to guess how the independent voters will behave. Two important principles here are that name recognition means a lot, and that many independents are such because they dislike the stridency of the two blocs.
One complicating factor is that the A-team bloc voters will still have two votes to play with after they’ve ticked the three required boxes. I’m picking that 35% of these votes will go to Sue McCann; 30% to Graham Hooper; 17% to Richard Melville; and the remaining 18% won’t bother. On the EW side, there are four official candidates, with Shirin Brown “endorsed” as an unofficial fifth. I’m picking that Shirin will get 75% of that fifth EW vote, with the rest divided between Ross Gillespie and Sue McCann.
So, on with the show. And the winners are:
1. Faye Storer: 1658. That’s all of the A-team bloc plus 60% of the independents. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Faye has by far the best name recognition of the pack, and her deep knowledge of the city bureaucracy and its inane processes impresses many. No one else will come close to her appeal with the independents. The irony is that now she will know what it’s like to be the top vote-getter, but not be chosen as board chair.
2. Beatle Treadwell: 1591. All of the EW bloc plus 40% of the independents will vote for her. Again, name recognition as a carer in the community will be all-important. Her quiet advocacy will go a long way with the independents.
3. Paul Walden: 1506. He’ll get all of the EW bloc and 30% of the independents. Paul is an EW champion and his name recognition is high, but it won’t benefit him as much as it does Beatle because of the baggage he carries. (For example, no golfers will vote for him no matter how Greenie their political leanings might otherwise be.)
4. John Meeuwsen: 1463. John will benefit from this year’s “Nobelangelo effect” — a fresh face articulating reasonable-sounding arguments, on whom people are willing to take a punt. A quarter of the independents will vote for him, in addition to the EW bloc.
5. Jo Holmes: 1444. Name recognition is high, which will earn her 35% of the independents. The score would have been better except for her willingness to play the heavy in the A-team’s good cop/bad cop game. Independents don’t like stridency. She will nonetheless be reelected.
6. Becs Ballard: 1437. The EW team figured she’d be this year’s Nikki Kaye, but I don’t think it will quite work. Despite an energetic campaign her name recognition is low. She’ll get less than a quarter of the independents and will just miss out. In other words she’ll be this year’s Andy Spence.
7. Don McKenzie: 1401. Everyone likes Don, but see my earlier OneWaiheke article for the reasons why I think his electoral support will wane this year. He will still gather 30% of the independents, but it won’t be enough.
8. Shirin Brown: 1219. It’s probably just the rumour-monger in me, but I’d love to get a straight answer as to why Shirin “decided she was happier running her own campaign” (in the words of the Essentially Waiheke website). EW’s sideways endorsement of her will give her 75% of the bloc, and her well-run campaign will gather a third of the independents, but the numbers will fall well short.
9. Sue McCann: 1140. I’m picking that Sue will garner 70% of the A-team bloc, 10% of the EW bloc, and 25% of the independents. I may be underestimating her name recognition and the appeal of her quiet, independent manner, so she might do better than this, but she will not come close to getting elected.
10. Richard Melville: 828. Richard has great appeal with the independents (fully half will vote for him), and may pick up 35% of the floating A-team votes; but most of the bloc voters will ignore him as just not nasty enough to be an effective politician.
11. Graham Hooper: 773. 60% of the A-team’s floating vote will come his way, but only 10% of the independents will take him seriously. Stridency will be a big problem here. This will nonetheless be his best showing ever.
12. Ross Gillespie: 316. A serious tree-hugger, he’ll earn 15% of the EW floating vote, and a similar percentage of the independents. But he’ll still place last.
So that’s it, folks. I’m out on my limb. Anyone care to saw it off?