But, even with that qualifier, the actual swing voters hiding among the "Im a centrists" are the ones who eventually decide the election, so it's probably better to take them seriously.
I just think the best way to win these people is to 'be good at politics' rather than make all sorts of policy and value compromises that these voters almost certainly do not care about.
In the UK context, Labour Party centrists attacking Jeremy Corbyn as a radical communist are being terrible at politics. He's going to be the next leader and screaming that the de facto leader is unelectable is just stupid. You notice how disaffected National factions DIDN'T do that with Don Brash?
A couple of quick observations.
1. Being a centrist is about marketing as much as anything else. Don Brash is the most radical, ideological party-leader we've ever had in New Zealand (with the arguable exception of Hone Harawira) yet he branded himself as 'mainstream' and came incredibly close to winning a general election.
2. I think there's often a gap between what people are thinking when they identify themselves as 'centrist' ie 'I am a moderate and sensible person', and what politicians and political analysts hear, ie 'I am available to your party.' A teacher who is a delegate for the PPTA and who has voted Labour their entire life or a farmer who has voted National for their entire life are just as likely to self-identify as 'centrists' as people who are actually swing-voters.
If left-wing centrists are going to occupy the central place in left-wing parliamentary democracy they seem to feel they deserve they need to either (a) be able to beat right-wing parties in general elections or (b) beat left-wing candidates in party elections. Blair was able to do both but his successors haven't been able to do either.
The responses to Q B9 - number of immigrants allowed into NZ - are also interesting.
There's a weight column which makes the data a bit more robust. But yeah, Asian and Pacifica New Zealanders are way younger than other demographics, which gives them lower response rates to surveys like these, so the data isn't as robust as you'd like. On the other hand, it's all there is.
the ethnicity categories only reach to “Chinese, Indian or other Asian
Yes. You can also specify your ethnicity; most of the entries in this category are people writing 'New Zealander' in a state of high dudgeon.
And if Labour put this much effort into programming an algorithm to identify us, I wonder if it also estimated how many New Zealand Chinese votes this study would cost them.
Based on the 2011 NZES survey, not many. That's a National or Did-Not-Vote bunch of voters.
I helped James with his campaign, so I’m not an impartial observer here. I can say that there was a robust debate inside the party about whether James was the right person to lead. But it centred around the brevity of his Parliamentary experience and his appeal outside urban electorates. No one – as far as I know – paid any attention to this ‘right-wing sleeper agent’ conspiracy so beloved of Left Wing Dudes On the Internet.
Now, maybe that’s because we were naive. Blind to the slippery slope of mass-murder that you feel electing James has led us down! Or, maybe its because the party members got to listen to the actual candidates speak and question them about their values instead of basing their understanding of the contest on blog posts from David Farrar and tweets by Matthew Hooton. Maybe their analysis was much more informed than yours?
There’s a vote. People vote for the candidates they like. Some of them are Steffan Browning.
The context there is a tendency for Green candidates and MPs to become very focused on appealing to the their internal membership rather than the voters, because the members are the people that get them into Parliament via the list.
There are a few factors at work across the anglosphere and locally . . .
1. Organisations that traditionally support left-wing political parties - notably trade unions - are at an historic low point in terms of power and resource, while organised capital, which funds their opponents, is very strong.
2. The death of 'neoliberalism' in the wake of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis gives right-wing parties considerable room to maneuver in ideological terms. They're essentially populist parties. Winning votes is really all that matters.
3. Whereas left-wing parties are still engaged in the endless wing civil-war over ideological purism. MPs get safe seats - or list positions - based on fealty to factions within the party or affiliates, like the unions, instead of their ability to win electorates or get voters to vote for their parties.
4. National (somehow) introduced sweeping institutional reforms after its defeat in 2002. Labour doesn't seem capable of this (we'll see after Gould finishes his review). But it seems to be like the Baltimore institutions in 'The Wire'. You can't reform it unless you get to the top, and once you're there you owe your position to people who benefit from the dysfunction, so you still can't change anything. The last major reform of Labour happened in the 1970s, carried out by Anderton and Clark. It is still, essentially, a First Past the Post political party.