New Zealand election live

Live commentary on today’s New Zealand election. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont

1:32pm Sunday Conversation article up about this big win for Labour.

10:27pm Labour currently leads National by 49-27 when pollsters said they led by about 15 points. A plausible explanation was the large undecided or refused component in polls of over 10%.

The final Colmar Brunton poll had Ardern’s lead over Collins as better PM blowing out from 50-23 to 55-20. I don’t like the better PM measure, but perhaps it was an indicator of how the undecided would break.

10:23pm As I said before, these results are not final. Final results will be released November 6. In the past, there has been a shift to the left from election night to final results. If that happens again, the pollsters will look even worse.

10:20pm In comments, people have said that the Greens won their first electorate seat in 1999. Apologies for my mistake.

8:55pm In Auckland Central, the Greens lead Labour by 490 with 98% reporting. So they should get their first ever electorate seat. In Waiariki, Maori leads Labour by 294 with 92% reporting.

8:30pm Labour has steadied at 49.0% with 82% counted. There’s also still 12% of advance votes to go, where Labour is at 50.8%. Labour’s current projection is 64 of the 120 seats.

I’m CALLING a Labour majority government, the first majority NZ government since they adopted proportional representation in 1996.

7:50pm Labour down to 49.3% with 63% reporting. Likely that they’ll keep dropping as more election day votes are counted, maybe ending with around 47-48%.

7:46pm In Waiariki, the Maori candidate is now leading by 28 votes with 64% reporting. If that holds, Maori wins one parliamentary seat.

7:39pm Labour’s overall vote down to 49.5% with 57% reporting. They got 50.7% on the advance vote with 80% of that reporting.

7:35pm Labour’s lead back to 34 votes in Waiariki with 56% reporting.

7:33pm Labour’s lead over the Maori party is just one vote in Waiariki. If Maori win this seat, they’ll be in parliament, though their party vote of under 1% means they’ll only get one seat.

7:22pm One theory for this difference is that people who took coronavirus more seriously tended to be on the left, and they thought voting early was a good precaution.

7:20pm There’s clearly a difference between election day and advance voting. Labour is down to 49.9% overall, despite having 50.7% on advance votes. That’s with 47% counted.

6:55pm We’re now getting some election day votes, and it looks as if they’re a bit better for National. Labour’s overall vote is 50.4% now with 36% reporting, compared with 50.7% on the advance vote.

6:06pm The Greens are leading Labour by 396 votes in Auckland Central. They have 8% of the party vote, but winning a single-member seat would give them more security in future elections.

6:03pm In the Maori seat of Waiariki, Labour leads the Maori candidate by just 28 votes. If Maori win, they will be in parliament.

5:50 With 34% of advance votes counted, Labour is still just over 50%. Unless National does much better on election day votes, this is looking like a clear Labour parliamentary majority.

5:40 With 25% of advance votes counted, Labour leads National by 50-26, with 8% for the Greens and ACT. The Maori party is also shown as winning one electorate seat, thus entering parliament.

5:32 18% of advance votes counted, and Labour is on 49.9%.

5:28 Over 10% of advance votes have been counted, and Labour has 51%, National 26%, the Greens 8.4%, ACT 7.5% and NZ First 2.2%. Labour is currently winning 65 of the 120 seats. We’ll see if this holds up.

5:15pm AEDT With 2% of booths counted, presumably early votes, Labour has 50%, National 27%, the Greens and ACT 8% each.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

The New Zealand election is today. Polls close at 7pm local time (5pm AEDT). The final Colmar Brunton poll gave Labour 46%, National 31%, the Greens 8%, the right-wing ACT 8% and NZ First 3%. A Reid Research poll, conducted October 8-15, gave Labour 46%, National 31%, ACT 7%, the Greens 6% and NZ First 3.5%. A Labour/Greens government is the most likely outcome, with NZ First short of the 5% threshold to re-enter parliament. Labour could also win a majority in its own right.

The nominally 120-seat parliament has 72 single-member seats, elected by first-past-the-post, and 48 list seats. List seats are used as a top-up; parties that do well in single-member seats receive few list seats. Electors receive two votes: one for their local member and one for their preferred party.

It is the party vote that determines how many seats each party is proportionally entitled to, provided they either pass the 5% threshold or win a single-member seat. Contests between the major parties for single-member seats are irrelevant for determining overall seat entitlements. However, a single-member win by a non-major party candidate would put that party in partliament even if its party vote was below 5%.

Other than Epsom, already held by ACT’s leader, the best chance for a minor party breakthrough appears to be the seven seats reserved for those on the Māori roll. The Māori party won some of these seats between 2005 and 2014. In the first three of these elections, Māori wins caused an “overhang” because they won more single-member seats than entitled under the party vote. Parliament was expanded to accommodate these extra seats.

Over 1.7 million people have already voted, and I believe we will get the early vote results early on election night. The election night count is not final. Final results will not be released until November 6. In the past, there has been a shift of one or two seats towards left-wing parties from the election night to the final results.

There will be two referendums held with this election, one on legalising cannabis and the other on allowing euthanasia for terminally ill patients. The electoral commission will not count the referendum results on election night, and initial results will not be released until October 30.

US election minus three weeks; NZ election minus two days

Biden’s national lead reaches double digits, and he holds 7+ point leads in states likely to be the “tipping-point”. Meanwhile, NZ Labour retains a large lead.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

With three weeks left until the November 3 election, the FiveThirtyEight national aggregate gives Joe Biden a 10.2% lead over Donald Trump (52.3% to 42.1%). Biden’s lead has increased by 0.6% since last week. In the key states, Biden leads by 7.8% in Wisconsin and Michigan, 7.1% in Pennsylvania, 4.0% in Florida and 3.9% in Arizona.

Pennsylvania is back to being the “tipping-point” state in the Electoral College, after being tied with Wisconsin last week. The good news for Trump is that Pennsylvania is currently 3.1% more favourable for him than nationally. The bad news is that, with Biden up ten nationally, that isn’t going to matter.

For Trump to win, he needs to either reduce Biden’s national lead to under five points, so that the key states become highly competitive, or hope for a polling error much worse than in 2016. In the last two weeks, Biden’s national lead has increased from seven to ten points, and Trump is rapidly running out of time. A Trump recovery would probably involve him focusing on the economy for the last three weeks, and not holding rallies that can be seen as reckless given coronavirus.

Biden also leads by 3.2% in North Carolina, 1.2% in Georgia, 0.6% in Iowa and 0.3% in Ohio. He trails by 1.4% in Texas. As I have said previously, if Biden wins all these states, he wins over 400 of the 538 Electoral Votes.

The FiveThirtyEight forecast gives Trump a 13% chance to win the Electoral College, down from 16% last week. He only has a 5% chance to win the popular vote.

Despite the bad voting intention polls, Trump’s job approval ratings have been relatively stable. In the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, his net approval with all polls is -10.4%, and -10.0% with polls of likely or registered voters. His ratings are down slightly since last week, but there has not been a fall like in July.

Favourable ratings are likely a better explanation for Trump’s decline. The RealClearPolitics average has Biden’s net favourability at +7, the highest it’s been, while Trump’s is -12. In 2016, both Trump and Hillary Clinton were very unpopular. This year, Biden’s big lead is partly explained by his own popularity.

In the FiveThirtyEight Classic Senate forecast, Democrats now have a 76% chance to win control, up 4% since last week. The most likely outcome is a 52-48 Democratic majority, a one-seat gain for Democrats. The 80% confidence range is 48 to 56 Democratic seats; it was 48 to 55 last week.

Early voting

Some states have voter registration by party, though this does not mean that every registered Democrat votes for Biden, or every Republican for Trump. According to Michael McDonald’s Elections Project site, in North Carolina 51% of returned mail ballots have been from Democrats and just 18% Republicans. In Florida, it’s 50% Democrats and 29% Republicans.

These figures appear strong for Biden. However, it’s to be expected according to polls. A Pew Research poll was conducted after the first presidential debate from a sample of over 10,000. It gave Biden an overall 52-42 lead. Among those voting by mail, Biden’s lead was 69-27, and he also led by 55-40 among those voting in-person before election day. However, Trump led by 63-31 among those voting in-person on election day.

There could be big swings on election night depending on the order in which states count early and election day votes. In Florida, for example, the early vote is counted first, and much of it will be reported soon after polls close. Biden would expect to take a big lead on these early returns, but Trump would likely gain on the election day vote.

Colmar Brunton: NZ Labour leads National by 46-31

Two days before Saturday’s New Zealand election, the final Colmar Brunton poll, conducted October 10-14 from a sample of 1,005, gave Labour 46% (down one since last week), National 31% (down one), the Greens 8% (up two), the right-wing ACT 8% (steady) and NZ First 3% (up one). Jacinda Ardern led Judith Collins as better PM by 55-20 (50-23 last week).

If this poll was the election result, Labour would win 59 of the 120 parliamentary seats, two short of a majority. National would win 40, the Greens 11 and ACT 10. The Greens will be happy that their vote has increased to 8%, three points above the 5% threshold for party representation without winning a single-member seat. A Labour/Greens government is the most likely election outcome.

A Morgan NZ poll, conducted in September, gave Labour 47.5%, National 28.5%, the Greens 9.5% and ACT 7%.

US election minus four weeks

Biden extends his national lead after the first debate and Trump’s coronavirus. Meanwhile, NZ Labour retains a large lead.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

This is an updated version of an article I had published for The Conversation on Wednesday.

With four weeks left until the November 3 election, the FiveThirtyEight aggregate of US national polls gives Joe Biden a 9.5% lead over Donald Trump (51.7% to 42.2%). Biden’s lead has increased 1.9% since last week’s article.

In the key states, Biden leads by 7.7% in Michigan, 6.9% in Wisconsin, 6.9% in Pennsylvania, 4.6% in Florida and 4.4% in Arizona. If Biden wins the states that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, plus Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, he wins the election with at least 278 of the 538 Electoral Votes.

Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are tied as the “tipping-point” states that could potentially put either Trump or Biden over the 270 EVs required to win. Pennsylvania has been polling closer to Wisconsin and Michigan than in the recent past. The current difference between Pennsylvania and the national vote is 2.6% in favour of Trump. At the moment, that gap isn’t much help to Trump.

There are five states where Biden is either just ahead or just behind: North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Iowa and Ohio. If Biden won all of them, he would win a blowout victory with over 400 EVs.

In the FiveThirtyEight forecast, Trump still has a 16% chance to win, though only a 7% chance to win the popular vote. Trump’s chances have declined 5% since last week. Still, a 18% chance is the probability of rolling a six on a six-sided die.

Trump’s ratings with all polls in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate are 43.4% approve, 53.3% disapprove (net -9.9%). With polls of likely or registered voters, Trump’s ratings are 43.8% approve, 53.2% disapprove (net -9.4%). His net approval has declined about one point since last week. RealClearPolitics averages have Biden at +6 net favourable, while Trump is at -12.

The FiveThirtyEight Classic Senate forecast gives Democrats a 72% chance to win, up 4% since last week. The most likely outcome is a narrow 51 to 49 Democratic majority, unchanged from last week. The forecast gives Democrats an 80% chance of holding between 48 and 55 seats after the election.

Trump’s coronavirus

Perhaps there would have been some public sympathy for Trump had his coronavirus appeared to be bad luck. But it is likely Trump and other prominent Republicans’ coronavirus infections occurred at a September 26 event to announce Amy Coney Barrett as Trump’s nominee to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.

Pictures in the linked article show people sitting close together, without face masks. This created an impression of reckless conduct by Trump and other Republicans in ignoring medical advice.

In a CNN poll taken after Trump’s coronavirus, 60% disapproved and 37% approved of Trump’s handling of coronavirus; his -23 net approval is a record low on that issue. By 63-33, voters thought Trump had acted irresponsibly.

An additional problem for Trump is that coronavirus is back in the headlines. As Trump is perceived to have been poor on this issue, that helps Biden. New US daily cases have plateaued between 30,000 and 50,000.

US employment growth slows

The September US jobs report was the last before the November 3 election. 661,000 jobs were created, and the unemployment rate dropped 0.5% to 7.9%. This was the first month with fewer than a million jobs added since the April nadir. The unemployment rate has almost halved from April’s 14.7%. But the gain in September was mainly attributable to a 0.3% slide in the participation rate, to 61.4%.

Trump may have undermined his advantage on the economy by withdrawing from negotiations with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over a new stimulus bill. An article by analyst Nate Silver says stimulus spending was very popular: in a September Siena poll for The New York Times, voters supported a $US 2 trillion stimulus by a 72-23 margin.

NZ Colmar Brunton poll: Labour leads National by 47-32

With nine days left until the October 17 NZ election, a Colmar Brunton poll gave Labour 47% (steady since last week), National 32% (down one), the right-wing ACT 8% (steady), the Greens 6% (down one) and NZ First 2% (up one). Jacinda Ardern led Judith Collins as better PM by 50-23 (54-23 last week). This poll was conducted October 3-7 from a sample of 1,007.

If this was the election result, Labour would win 60 of the 120 seats, one short of a majority. National would win 41, ACT 11 and the Greens 8. However, the Greens will be anxious about clearing the 5% threshold, as NZ polls have tended to overstate them. If the Greens miss the threshold, Labour would win a majority on this poll, as it has a 47-40 lead over the combined vote for National and ACT. My personal website has more discussion of last week’s poll, including personal ratings of Ardern and Collins.

US election minus five weeks

Two strong polls for Biden in Pennsylvania make an Electoral College/popular vote split less likely, as Trump loses the first debate.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

Five weeks before the November 3 election, FiveThirtyEight’s national aggregate gives Joe Biden a 7.6% lead over Donald Trump (50.5% to 42.9%). This is a slight improvement for Biden since last week, when he led by 7.3%. In the key states, Biden leads by 7.0% in Michigan, 6.9% in Wisconsin, 5.6% in Pennsylvania, 3.7% in Arizona and 2.0% in Florida.

The best polling news for Biden was two Pennsylvania polls from FiveThirtyEight A+ rated pollsters. Both the Siena poll for The New York Times and the ABC/Washington Post poll gave Biden a nine-point lead in Pennsylvania.

If Biden wins states carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016, plus Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, he wins the Electoral College with at least 278 Electoral Votes (270 are required). The strong polls for Biden in Pennsylvania have moved it to be 2.0% more favourable for Trump than nationally; last week it was 2.7% better for Trump.

There are several states that are not near the Electoral College “tipping-point”, but where Biden is currently narrowly ahead or behind. Since last week, Biden has taken the lead in Ohio and Iowa, and is tied in Georgia. He trails by just two points in Texas. With Biden also narrowly ahead in North Carolina, it could be a blowout victory.

Biden is doing best relative to Clinton in the Midwestern and northeastern states where there are many who voted for Barack Obama in 2012, but Trump in 2016. In 2016, both Trump and Clinton were unpopular candidates, but this year Biden is currently at a net +3 favourability, while Trump is at -13 in RealClearPolitics averages. Biden appears to have some appeal to whites without a university education, who swung to Trump in 2016.

The FiveThirtyEight forecast still gives Trump a 21% chance to win the Electoral College, down 1% since last week. Trump wins the popular vote just 11% of the time. An article by Nate Silver says that, if the election were held today, Trump would have only a 9% chance to win.

Trump’s ratings with all polls in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate are 43.7% approve, 52.9% disapprove (net -9.2%). With polls of likely or registered voters, Trump’s ratings are 44.2% approve, 52.7% disapprove (net -8.5%). His net approval has improved about one point since last week.

The FiveThirtyEight Classic Senate forecast gives Democrats a 68% chance to win, up 1% since last week. The most likely outcome is a narrow 51 to 49 Democratic majority, unchanged from last week. The forecast gives Democrats an 80% chance of holding between 47 and 55 seats after the election.

Biden wins first presidential debate

The first presidential debate between Biden and Trump occurred Tuesday. A CBS News post-debate scientific poll gave Biden a narrow 48-41 victory, while a CNN poll gave him a far more emphatic 60-28 win. Trump needed a clear win to change the current polling. There will be two more presidential debates on October 15 and 22, and a vice presidential debate on October 7.

The major headlines from the debate were that it was a shouting match, and Trump’s refusal to denounce white supremacists. I have said before that the US economy’s fast recovery from the April coronavirus lows is Trump’s best asset for re-election, but he did nothing during the debate to tell a positive story about the economy.

Concerning the Supreme Court fight over the replacement for the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Morning Consult poll found that a record 62% supported the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), while 24% were opposed. In March, this was 55-29 support. There is clear danger for Trump and Republicans in appointing a judge who will overturn Obamacare.

New Zealand poll: Labour short of majority

A new Colmar Brunton New Zealand poll has Labour on 47%, National 33%, ACT 8% and the Greens 7%. If repeated at the October 17 election, Labour would win 59 of the 120 seats, two short of a majority. You can read more at my personal website.

Colmar Brunton: NZ Labour leads National by 48-31

Three-and-a-half weeks before the October 17 New Zealand election, the first media poll since late July has Labour still well ahead.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

A New Zealand Colmar Brunton poll, conducted September 17-21 from a sample of 1,008, gave Labour 48% (down five since late July), National 31% (down one), the right-wing ACT 7% (up two), the Greens 6% (up one) and NZ First 2% (steady).  Labour PM Jacinda Ardern led Opposition Leader Judith Collins by 54-18 as better PM (54-20 in July).

Under New Zealand’s proportional representation system, parties must either win a single-member seat or clear the 5% threshold to be represented in parliament. NZ First, which is currently a Labour coalition partner, is unlikely to return to parliament.

Even though the Greens have 6% in this poll, they should be anxious about clearing the 5% threshold. In the past, NZ polls have overstated the Greens. ACT is far better placed as their leader holds the single-member seat of Epsom.

If these poll results were the outcome on October 17, Labour would win 62 of the 120 seats, just enough for a majority. National would win 41 seats, ACT nine and the Greens eight.

There have been two other relatively recent NZ polls. A privately conducted late August to early September UMR poll gave Labour 53%, National 29%, ACT 6.2%, NZ First 3.9% and the Greens 3.2%. A Morgan poll, conducted in August, gave Labour 48%, National 28.5%, the Greens 11.5%, ACT 6% and NZ First 2.5%.

A concern for Labour is that their vote could continue to fall. If Labour’s election vote is under 45%, they may need the Greens to clear the 5% threshold to form a Labour/Green government.

Time running out for Trump

Seven weeks before the November 3 election, Biden still leads Trump by about five points in the Electoral College tipping-point states.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

In FiveThirtyEight’s national aggregate of Donald Trump vs Joe Biden polls, Biden leads Trump by 6.9% (50.3% to 43.4%). This is an improvement for Trump from three weeks ago, when he trailed by 8.2%. In the key states, Biden leads by 7.5% in Michigan, 6.8% in Wisconsin, 5.0% in Arizona, 4.8% in Pennsylvania and 2.3% in Florida.

In my article three weeks ago, the difference in Trump’s favour between the Electoral College tipping-point state and the national vote had widened to three points, but this difference has fallen back to two points, with Arizona and Pennsylvania currently two points more favourable to Trump than national polls.

If Biden wins all the states carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016, plus Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona, he gets exactly 269 Electoral Votes, one short of the 270 required for a majority. Maine and Nebraska award one EV to the winner of each of their Congressional Districts, and two to the statewide winner. All other states award their EVs winner-takes-all.

Under this scenario, Biden would need one of either Nebraska’s or Maine’s second CDs for the 270 EVs required to win the Electoral College. Nebraska’s second is a more likely win for Biden as it is an urban district.

The US economy has rebounded strongly from the coronavirus nadir in April. Owing to this, the FiveThirtyEight forecast expects some narrowing as the election approaches. Every day that passes without evidence of narrowing in the tipping-point states is bad news for Trump. Biden’s chances of winning in the forecast have increased from a low of 67% on August 31 to 76% now.

While Trump has improved slightly in national polls, some state polls have been very good for Biden. Recently, Biden has had leads of 16 points in Minnesota, 21 points in Maine, 10 in Wisconsin and 10 in Arizona.

Trump’s ratings with all polls in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate are currently 43.1% approve, 52.8% disapprove (net -9.7%). With polls of likely or registered voters, his ratings are 43.8% approve, 52.9% disapprove (net -9.1%). In the last three weeks, Trump has gained about two points on net approval, continuing a recovery from July lows.

The RealClearPolitics Senate map has 47 expected Democratic seats, 47 Republican seats and six toss-ups. If toss-ups are assigned to the current leader, Democrats lead by 51-49, unchanged from three weeks ago.

Coronavirus and the US economy

The US has just passed the grim milestone of over 200,000 deaths attributable to coronavirus. However, daily new cases have dropped into the 30,000 to 40,000 range from a peak of over 70,000 in July. Lower media attention on the coronavirus crisis assists Trump.

In the US August jobs report, 1.4 million jobs were created and the unemployment rate fell 1.8% to 8.4%. The unemployment rate has greatly improved from its April nadir of 14.7%. The headline jobs gained or lost are from the establishment survey, while the household survey is used for the unemployment rate. In August, the household survey numbers were much better than the establishment survey, with almost 3.8 million jobs added.

It is probably fortunate for Biden that the September jobs report, to be released in early October, will be the last voters see before the election. The October report will be released November 6, three days after the election.

I believe Trump should focus on the surging economy in the lead-up to the election, and ignore other issues like the Kenosha violence and culture war issues.

With the election drawing closer, I will do these reports every week from now on.

NZ: poll drought continues

A month out from the October 17 New Zealand election, there have not been any media-commissioned polls since late July. The only recently reported poll is a privately-commissioned UMR poll, conducted August 25 to September 2. That gave Labour 53%, National 29%, ACT 6.2%, NZ First 3.9% and the Greens just 3.2%.

The Greens’ low figure in this poll is very different from a Morgan NZ poll, conducted during August, which had the Greens on 11.5%. That poll gave Labour 48% and National 28.5%. Unless a party wins a single-member seat, the threshold required to enter parliament is 5%.