Ardern: All down to turnout

The Press - - Politics - HENRY COOKE

ANAL­Y­SIS: As she goes into the fi­nal stretch of the cam­paign of her life, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern thinks the elec­tion will come down to one thing: turnout.

It’s a bit of a cliche to say this in tight races – es­pe­cially as a Leftlean­ing can­di­date re­ly­ing on the youth vote – but she also might be right. A bevy of polls have Labour and Na­tional neck-and-neck.

You could feel this ten­sion – some­where be­tween the grim feel­ing of a los­ing cam­paign and the cau­tious op­ti­mism of a win­ning one – at Ardern’s rally in Hamil­ton yes­ter­day.

‘‘Whether or not the gov­ern­ment changes this elec­tion will come down to turnout,’’ Ardern said.

‘‘I don’t need to tell you that it’s go­ing to be bloody tight,’’ Wa­iariki can­di­date and for­mer broad­caster Ta­mati Cof­fey said as he warmed up the crowd of about 600 vol­un­teers and sup­port­ers.

Cof­fey then brought out Anika Moa (‘‘the third most pop­u­lar les­bian mu­si­cian in New Zealand – af­ter the Topp Twins’’), who was well re­ceived, but the crowd didn’t re­ally get go­ing un­til the main event: Ardern, walk­ing out to the dra­matic string mu­sic from her cam­paign ad, to waved ban­ners and a huge ‘‘Let’s Do This’’ pro­jected be­hind her.

She ran through the great­est hits: the Norman Kirk quote, the fram­ing of cli­mate change through her fa­ther’s view of Kiri­bati, and the re­peated words ‘‘a home is a right’’.

It’s a sim­ple rally setup – one she’s used at plenty of events up and down the coun­try – but it is ef­fec­tive and dra­matic.

Ardern feels like a real celebrity, a rar­ity in the down-toearth world of Kiwi politi­cians. Just ask the group of teenage girls in New Ply­mouth yes­ter­day who fol­lowed her from event to event in hopes of get­ting a selfie.

This youth af­fec­tion is vis­i­ble in the polls too. In a News­room/ SSI poll Labour had 51-point lead on Na­tional among 18 to 24-yearolds.

But Labour’s strate­gists know they need those young peo­ple to do more than just be­come fans of Ardern: they need them to en­rol and to vote.

And the early en­rol­ment fig­ures are not pretty read­ing for them. The Elec­toral Com­mis­sion say 67.5 per cent of el­i­gi­ble 18 to 24-year-olds were en­rolled by Septem­ber 12. For com­par­i­son’s sake: more than 95 per cent of every­one aged above 45 was en­rolled.

Labour’s gen­eral sec­re­tary, Andrew Kir­ton, put out a warn­ing yes­ter­day that some polling booths on Auck­land’s North Shore and in the South Is­land were not al­low­ing peo­ple to en­rol and vote at the same time – some­thing every­one can do un­til elec­tion day.

‘‘We have had the sug­ges­tion that some polling booths haven’t been al­low­ing en­rol­ment,’’ Ardern said. ‘‘Don’t take any other an­swer un­til you are able to en­rol and vote.’’

The com­mis­sion said they had re­ceived the re­port from Labour and any vot­ers who found they couldn’t en­rol at a booth should con­tact its of­fices di­rectly.

Ardern is dis­ap­pointed that peo­ple can’t en­rol on elec­tion day, so is push­ing as many peo­ple to vote as early as pos­si­ble.

We know over 300,000 peo­ple have voted early but have no idea how many of those were new en­rol­ments or young peo­ple.

For Labour to have a shot of form­ing a gov­ern­ment, a whole lot of them will have to be.

PHOTO: MARK TAY­LOR/STUFF

Labour’s Jacinda Ardern cam­paigns in Hamil­ton yes­ter­day, urg­ing peo­ple to en­rol and vote.

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