What is National doing in Port Hills?

I’ve been somewhat scathing about Labour’s endless faffing about in the Tamaki Makaurau electorate, failing to choose a candidate in a timely fashion, but National’s inaction in the Port Hills electorate is just as bad.

Ruth Dyson currently holds Port Hills with a majority of 3,097. Ordinarily, you’d have to assume that National has probably reached its high water mark, in terms of cutting electorate majorities in Labour seats, but that doesn’t take into account the new boundary changes. Ms Dyson took 48.41% of the electorate vote in 2011, compared to David Carter’s 38.89%, giving her a 9.53 percentage point lead. Under the proposed boundary changes – in which Port Hills took in a large chunk of blue-ribbon Selwyn electorate – that 9.53% lead to Ms Dyson would have become an 8.01% lead to the National candidate (boundary change figures provided by Ben Raue). Although the final boundary change includes rather less of Selwyn than it did, I would estimate the seat to be either a toss-up or slightly favouring National (although I haven’t run any hard numbers).

National’s David Carter won’t be contesting Port Hills again – as Speaker of the House, he’s going list-only. By comparison, Ruth Dyson is withdrawing from Labour’s list and going electorate-only. Presumably she’s worked out that going from being ranked number 5 in Labour in 2011 to number 28 today is a pretty good indication that her list ranking may be embarrassingly low, which would only harm her prospects of holding her electorate.

National announced that the Wigram electorate was winnable, and announced its candidate 9 days ago. I’ve previously said they’re highly unlikely to take Wigram. Port Hills was always going to be a far more likely bet for National, but by not yet choosing a candidate, National may well have blown its chance. Ms Dyson has nothing to lose and will be door knocking the electorate with a vengeance. In comparison, National don’t even have a name or face to offer, let alone a physical candidate standing at people’s front doors and attempting to be charming.

Any paper majority that National’s electorate candidate might have will be slipping away with every day that passes. Not having candidates selected in marginal seats at this stage in the game is unforgivable, whichever party we’re talking about.

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