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