The Conservative Party have announced that Christine Rankin will stand in Epsom. It’s not surprising, and it won’t make a difference to the election result.
The reason it’s not surprising is that the Conservatives now need every piece of publicity they can grasp. With almost zero hope of winning East Coast Bays, now that John Key has pulled the rug out from beneath Colin Craig, the Conservatives need their face on the evening news as often as possible as they go for the magical 5% threshold. Christine Rankin still has a profile – she’ll get the occasional soundbite on the 6pm news when the Epsom electorate holds a candidate meeting.
Ms Rankin is standing because the Conservatives now have no choice. They’d tried to dial back the odd-factor, selling themselves as responsible possible-partners for National, desperately hoping for an East Coast Bays deal. That’s now gone pear-shaped, and every bit of publicity now counts.
The reasons it won’t make a difference to the election result are two twofold.
Firstly, almost no one will be voting for ACT’s David Seymour because they think he’s the best candidate. His introductory “Hi, hi, hi, hi video” and his appearance on The Nation’s Epsom candidates debate (minus Paul Goldsmith) put paid to that long ago. The good people of Epsom will vote for Mr Seymour because he will resolutely support National. It’s a tactical vote, and almost no votes will flow from Seymour to Rankin. The simple fact is that Ms Rankin has no chance of winning, meaning there’s no tactical reason to vote for her. Her (few) votes will come from conservative National party voters who still don’t understand MMP and aren’t sure whether Paul Goldsmith actually exists.
Secondly, the Conservatives are polling so far below the 5% threshold that a few appearances from Christine Rankin on the evening news will have no appreciable effect on the party’s ability to cross that threshold. The few extra party votes she might garner by standing will still see the Conservatives fall well short of 5%. Likewise, the election result will have to be closer than a barbershop shave for the party votes stolen by Ms Rankin from National to make a difference.
Ms Rankin is an inconsequential distraction, nothing more.
The NZ Herald reports that:
[Conservative] Party leader Colin Craig says they have polled the electorate, and found the ACT Party isn’t going to win.
Well, I hope his polling company is better than one he used last election, when he predicted he’d win the Rodney electorate, but came third…
It’s also perhaps worth noting that in 2011, the Conservative Party came sixth in the Epsom party vote contest, gaining just 412 votes, and fifth (of eight candidates) in the electorate vote, picking up just 342 votes (not too far ahead of Penny Bright who managed to get 124 votes).