26 September 2013

What are the political implications of Team NZ's loss?

Major sporting events these days inevitably bring out speculation about whether or not they are likely to affect election results. And there is indeed some research evidence to support the view that a big win can boost support for incumbent candidates.
However, if I were Len Brown, I would not be worrying that the loss to Oracle means his hold on the mayoralty is in jeopardy. Sure, he would have loved to be basking in the reflected glory of a Team NZ win and talking about the huge benefits for Auckland and New Zealand. This would be especially welcome for him given that ballot papers were only recently posted out to us.
But the evidence suggests that the effects of sporting wins (and hence presumably losses too) are only marginal. They affect people's mood, and those who do not think very deeply about their reasons for voting may be influenced one way or the other.
Len Brown's command over Auckland is simply too great to be significantly affected by Team NZ's failure. It may mean that a few people get depressed and fail to complete their ballots. Perhaps those local board candidates whose fortunes sit on a knife-edge and for whom every vote counts could be a little worried that Team NZ's fate has sunk them as well.
As for John Key, I am sure that he too would have loved to be basking in the reflected glory of sporting success. It's unfortunate for him that this bad result follows news of a rise for Labour in a recent opinion poll. Oh well, he might think, the next election is more than a year away and people will have forgotten the America's Cup by then.


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