October 20, 2020
Dr Ganesh Nana (Former Research Director)

Special votes set to expand majority

Labour in line for one (possibly two) more seats

Based on 2017 results, specials favour Labour, Greens, and the Māori Party; at the expense of National and, less so, ACT. With 480,000 special votes to be counted, we project Labour gaining one more seat in Parliament than on election night figures. There is also a plausible scenario for a further additional seat to Labour from National. Amongst electorates, the result for Whangārei is most likely to change.

Using the Electoral Commission’s Sainte Lague formula to allocate seats, the Labour Party is set to get at least one more seat after specials are counted. We project an allocation of the estimated 480,000 specials using the ratios between the 2017 preliminary (election night) results and the 2017 special votes. The calculation sees one seat move from National to Labour. However, the vote total for the Māori Party remains short of it getting a second seat.

  Prelim Specials Final Prelim Specials Final Seats
  Number of votes % Prelim Final
Labour 1,169,397 260,062 1,429,459 49.10 54.18 49.96 64 65
National 638,393 94,185 732,578 26.81 19.62 25.60 35 34
Greens 180,224 48,389 228,613 7.57 10.08 7.99 10 10
ACT 190,106 34,950 225,056 7.98 7.28 7.87 10 10
Māori 23,938 7,001 30,939 1.01 1.46 1.08 1 1
Other 179,414 35,413 214,827 7.53 7.38 7.51 0 0
Total 2,381,472 480,000 2,861,472 100.00 100.00 100.00 120 120

Specials are the votes of those who enrolled and cast a vote after writ day (13 September 2020), as well as overseas votes. The Electoral Commission estimates there are 480,000 specials to count, compared to 422,094 in 2017.

According to the ratios of the 2017 preliminary-to-specials votes, Labour, Greens, and the Māori Party do proportionately a lot better in terms of specials votes. The National Party does a lot worse. ACT’s share of specials is marginally worse than share of election night count.

Despite the Green Party performing significantly better on specials than election night (by a factor of more than 1.4), they are unlikely to gain extra seats. This is because they are currently far away from an additional seat – on election night results their 10th seat was the 117th allocated (out of the total 120), and their hypothetical next seat is currently sitting at number 128. It would require a huge difference in special votes to shift this ranking up to 120.

Similarly, the Māori Party also do better on specials compared to election night (by a factor of more than 1.5). However, their hypothetical next seat is currently (election night) sitting at number 135. Again, it would require a huge difference in special votes to shift this ranking to 120.

These calculations put the final election result as Labour with 65 seats; National with 34 seats; Greens and ACT each with 10 seats; and the Māori Party with one seat.

Electorate seats in limbo

There are three seats (one each National, Greens, and Māori Party) with election night majorities of less than 500.

Auckland Central held by the Greens on an election night majority of 492 is unlikely to change hands given the Greens better performance on special votes.

Waiariki held by the Māori Party on an election night majority of 415 over Labour is considerably more uncertain. However, on balance the 415 vote may be too much to turn around, as both Labour and the Māori Party benefit proportionately more from specials.

However, with the impact of specials going heavily against National, its Whangārei seat that is currently held with margin of 162 is at significant risk of changing hands to Labour.

Assuming that the Whangārei electorate does shift to Labour, then 21 MPs would enter Parliament off the Labour list (with Angela Roberts being the 21st); and nine would come in off the National list (with Nick Smith being the 9th).

Number MPs from Labour Party list = 21
Party list # Count Name
7 1 LITTLE, Andrew
9 2 PARKER, David
11 3 MALLARD, Trevor Colin
15 4 FAAFOI, Kris
17 5 VERRALL, Ayesha
19 6 JACKSON, Willie
27 7 WALL, Louisa
30 8 BELICH, Camilla
31 9 RADHAKRISHNAN, Priyanca
32 10 TINETTI, Jan
34 11 LUBECK, Marja
35 12 WARREN-CLARK, Angie
36 13 PRIME, Willow-Jean
37 14 COFFEY, Tamati Gerald
38 15 CHEN, Naisi
41 16 CRAIG, Liz
42 17 OMER, Ibrahim
46 19 BROOKING, Rachel
48 20 WHITE, Helen
50 21 ROBERTS, Angela
Next eligible    
54 22 SOSENE, Lemauga Lydia
56 23 ROSEWARNE, Dan
Number MPs from National Party list = 9
Party list # Count Name
2 1 BROWNLEE, Gerry
5 3 RETI, Shane
7 4 BISHOP, Chris
11 5 BENNETT, David
12 6 WOODHOUSE, Michael
13 7 WILLIS, Nicola
16 8 LEE, Melissa
18 9 SMITH, Nick
Next eligible    
19 10 PUGH, Maureen
21 11 HIPANGO, Harete

A further seat to Labour possible

A closer look at the calculations does show considerable sensitivity of the results to the assumptions around the preliminary-to-specials assumptions. In particular, a difference in the allocation of specials of another 980 votes from National to Labour would result in a further seat shifting from National to Labour. This scenario would result in Labour with 66 and National at 33. In this scenario, National’s Nick Smith would exit and Labour’s Lemauga Lydia Sosene would enter Parliament.