Amid the rubble of
its 2011 election-night defeat, Labour's loss of the party
vote in Dunedin South stood out as a singular "disaster". The
seat, traditionally regarded as "safe Labour", swung to
National. Mark Price takes a closer look where the votes
National gives the credit to its candidate and its
campaigning. Labour blames a low turnout and national trends.
For weeks to come, the question of why the Dunedin South
party vote turned from red to blue will be central to each
party's after-match analysis.
They will study the electorate, polling place by polling
place - trying to decipher from the bare numbers the
motivation of voters.
And, each polling place has its own story to tell.
Here, for instance, is the one from a small polling place in
the "blue-collar" heart of South Dunedin.
In 2008, 334 people voted at the St Patrick's Parish Centre
in Macandrew Rd, and 190 of them gave their vote to Labour.
That was a comfortable 118 votes ahead of National.
Helen Clark was prime minister then, John Key was the new boy
on the block and Clare Curran was, as she is now, the Labour
member of Parliament for Dunedin South.
This time, 72 fewer people voted.
Labour's total vote was now 118.
That was 72 fewer than at the last election.
National  gained five votes, the Greens  gained 14
and New Zealand First  gained eight, while Act [two] lost
In the end, Labour held sway at St Patrick's.
The polling-place stories beyond South Dunedin showed
stronger forces at work, pushing Labour into second and even
of Otago political scientist Dr Bryce Edwards says one of the
points made by this year's election results was that Dunedin
South and South Dunedin are not the same thing.
The electorate stretches from the affluent harbourside
villages of Otago Peninsula, across the poorer areas of South
Dunedin and off into the rural heartland of Middlemarch.
Dr Edwards noted Labour had focused its attention on South
Dunedin and that allowed National to "hoover" up votes in the
more affluent parts of the electorate such as Mosgiel,
Abbotsford and Fairfield.
And, like many other electorates, Labour had missed the vote
of what former Dunedin political commentator Chris Trotter
defined as "Waitakere Man".
Trotter, after the last election, described a voter who had a
trade certificate rather than a degree, worked hard to pay
the mortgage and had no time for intellectuals,
"politically-correct bull****" or welfare beneficiaries.
While the final numbers for individual polling stations won't
be confirmed until next week, it is believed they will not
change markedly from the preliminary party vote results
The following summaries are compiled from the 59 Dunedin
South polling places at this election and the 64 polling
places at the 2008 elections.
Abbotsford changed colour - from red to a bluey-green - with
something of a landslide of votes from the Labour camp into
the National and Green camps.
Labour secured the votes of 378 Abbotsford voters - a drop of
206 from the 2008 election.
National gained 125 votes, to 393, and the Greens 37, to 90.
Act New Zealand was down 20, to six.
The turnout was down 154, to 982.
• National: by a nose.
Edwards: This suburb is becoming more conservative.
It is an area of increasing affluence, and it now rates as
three out of 10 on the University of Otago Index of
Deprivation scale - a relatively wealthy suburb.
Interest in the election appeared to slip at Andersons Bay -
the number of votes cast down by 112, to 1318.
National took the suburb from Labour - its vote up 34, to
560, while Labour's was down 181 to 428.
The Greens collected an extra 69 votes, taking them to 223,
but of the 36 Act voters at the last election, all but seven
The biggest percentage jump was for the Aotearoa Legalise
Cannabis Party, which went from no votes in the last election
to two this time.
• National: by a head.
Edwards: It should be no surprise that this suburb shifted
from red to blue. It rates as two out of 10 on the
deprivation scale, making it a wealthy suburb.
Brighton almost changed allegiance.
However, even though Labour got 40 votes fewer than the last
election and National gained six, Labour, with 169 votes,
remained 12 ahead of National, on 157.
The biggest gain was made by the Greens, up 34, to 79, while
the New Zealand First vote was up 13 to 33.
• Labour: by a short nose.
Edwards: The most interesting change in Brighton
was the significant increase in Green voters. There are
increasing number of middle-income and lifestyle residents -
the type of voters that the Green Party is increasingly
focused on. Brighton is five out of 10 on the deprivation
scale - an averagely wealthy suburb.