I’m suffering from cognitive dissonance. I know – I feel – that Meka’s going to win. The momentum is with Te Hamua, though.
John Minto isn’t wrong to write that “most pundits are picking the seat as Labour’s to lose, on the ground the feeling is very different. If I was a betting man I’d put money on Te Hamua to win”. Mana Poneke has been and is knocking on doors and discovering that most households are committed to voting for Te Hamua. I’ve received several emails (thank you) arguing that I’ve misread the electorate. Maybe I have.
Byelections turn on, well, turnout. That’s where Labour’s at an advantage. The future is micro-targeting. Labour gets that. Micro-targetting requires 1) knowledge of who and where your voters are and 2) the right messaging.
As bad as Labour’s messaging has been (“we will organise, mobilise and terrorise”), the party knows who and where its habitual voters are. Even putting terror and immigration comments aside, Labour and Meka are still at a messaging advantage. Meka can credibly frame herself as the successor to Parekura’s legacy and she can position herself to inherit the affection that Parekura earnt.
Requesting a copy of the electoral roll with the names and addresses of every person enrolled in Ikaroa-Rawhiti – as I believe Mana, the Maori Party and the Greens do - is is an exercise in hit and miss. Political campaigns are about the allocation of scare resources. Sending your human resources on door knocks that don’t guarantee a political return can be wasteful. Having said that it appears that Mana has a good hit rate.
However, on the issues, the field is even: jobs, housing and health and local issues like empty state homes in Maraenui, erosion on the East Coast, oil exploration in Dannevirke and school closures in Gisborne favour no one.
I might be horribly wrong (wouldn’t be the first time) and this election might not depend on turnout at all. I’m open to people sharing their experiences on the ground. The comments section is open.