Has Garth McVicar handed Napier to Labour?

About a month ago, I predicted that Stuart Nash would win Napier with a majority of 3,000, almost reversing the existing 3,701 majority achieved by retiring National incumbent Chris Tremain.

With regards to Garth McVicar throwing his hat in to the ring, I wrote:

Now comes the final nail in the National candidate’s coffin – Garth McVicar. He’s decided to stand in Napier for the Conservative Party. He doesn’t have a hope of winning it, but he’ll certainly take a chunk of the votes that might have gone to Wayne Walford. A few Nash votes might go McVicar’s way, but I wouldn’t expect it would be many.

Well, last night’s One News Colmar Brunton poll of Napier had some unexpected results.

Yes, Stuart Nash was out front, with 39% of the vote compared to 33% for National’s Wayne Walford (and based on 2011’s turnout of 33,268 votes, that would give Nash a majority of approximately 2,000 – close to my 3,000 prediction).

However, Garth McVicar, in third place, was sitting on 22%. Take McVicar out of the race, and Nash might well be struggling to take the seat, despite having been favoured to win it long before McVicar’s entrance.

Let’s assume that McVicar wasn’t there. Taking some rough and ready numbers, which assume that all of McVicar’s votes would go to either the National and Labour candidates, Wayne Walford would need to pick up just shy of 64% of McVicar’s votes in order to make up the six point deficit. That’s a difficult, but not impossible ask, given that McVicar voters would surely be rather more naturally sympathetic to National than Labour.

In fact, looking at the party vote stats in the One News poll, National is on 44% in Napier, with the Conservatives on 9%, making a combined 53%. Nash is punching well above Labour’s weight (39%, compared to Labour’s party vote of just 25%), while Walford is on just 33%, compared to National’s party vote of 44%. It’s not unreasonable to suppose that a significant portion of National Party support has got behind McVicar, rather than the National candidate.

Without follow-up questions as to second choices of candidates, it’s impossible to come to a firm conclusion, but there’s a significant possibility that National could still have held Napier had Garth McVicar not entered the race. It appears that McVicar has handed the Napier electorate to Labour.



  1. Napier has been a solidly Labour seat the 1930s – in fact, the enmity between Napier and Hastings dates from the 1930s when Labour “rewarded” Napier by retiring it’s earthquake rebuild debt whilst making National voting Hastings pay all theirs off. It was an investment from Labour that paid off handsomely – Labour held the seat until MMP expanded the boundaries to include a lot of rural, National voting areas.

    1. Hi Sanctuary,

      I knew that Napier & Hastings had some somewhat parochial differences, but I hadn’t heard about the retirement of debt situation. Interesting. Must ask my grandfather about it, since he’s lived in Napier for most of his 90-something years…


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