Following on from my recent victory as New Zealand’s Next Top Political Pundit after the 2014 election I’ve decided to go all-in on National winning the the Northland by-election being held today. A month-or-so ago I thought they were absolutely guaranteed to win, and started buying iPredict stocks on a National victory at around 80c-90c. Later in the campaign prices dropped, but I still felt they were underpriced and have continued buying. Total outlay at the moment is about $221 on 559 stocks (including shorts on OTHER), so an average price of $0.3960. I haven’t bothered selling/covering, so I’m fairly exposed here, but I just don’t think Peters can win.
National to win was last trading at $0.1192, so as far as iPredict is concerned I’m pretty out of line. It will be interesting to see the results. But I think I have a decent number of pundits on my side:
- DimPost (March 20) thinks National will win because of their ground game.
- Polity’s (March 25) “prediction remains a solid National win”.
I also agree with most of Danyl’s sentiments in his March 10 piece: What is Labour’s optimum strategy in Northland?
If Peters wins the by-election that will be bad for National and great for Winston Peters, but those don’t add up to a win for the Labour Party… the optics of Peters single-handedly defeating National while Labour stands back, powerless aren’t very good for the Labour Party.
If he does succeed in putting the “win” into Winston, Labour could be handing National a future coalition partner.
… If Peters wants to hold the seat come 2017, cuddling up to Labour is risky territory. So, if Peters holds the balance of power in 2017, Labour could well find its gift to NZ First was a gift to National in disguise.
I think that to form a viable alternative government Labour needs to poll in the low 40s, and I just don’t think they can do that without taking a few votes off NZF and the Greens. Regardless of the actual result today, standing aside in a by-election and looking like Peters’ backup team isn’t a good long-term strategy for them.
One additional point I haven’t seen made is that Labour standing aside for Peters’ benefit is also not very fair to Labour’s candidate Willow-Jean Prime. In a general election candidates are willing to stand in impossible seats because there is the unspoken promise of a winnable spot on the list. That’s not the case in by-elections — there isn’t really any upside at all for the losing major-party candidate — which makes it hard to recruit somebody who isn’t a major liability to stand (even in a general election some major parties still have trouble.) The only real payoff for all the hard work is a bit of appreciation from the party, and Prime isn’t getting any. What happens next time there is a by-election in a safe National seat? Labour can’t realistically not stand a candidate.