As the countdown continues to the election, with the next major set piece being the Budget, much of the obvious voter wooing has focused on working families.
The National Party’s childcare and href="https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/politics/national-leader-christopher-luxon-unveils-more-of-its-education-policy-after-committing-to-curriculum-rewrite/VZN3Q3SFZREL5BZPMXFJEDXQSA/" target="_blank">education policies, for instance, seemed squarely aimed at couples with young children.
The Government has sent millions in recovery dollars to businesses harmed by Cyclone Gabrielle, and has talked up infrastructure needs and provided measures to help with cost-of-living including a boost to the minimum wage.
An interesting side of the election equation is what happens to the youth vote with former prime minister Jacinda Ardern having left and Labour seeking a third term as the main governing party. This time, the two main parties are taking a more pragmatic and less ambitious approach.
In 2020, there was a big increase in the percentage of people between the ages of 18 and 39 voting compared to 2017. There were about 144,870 extra votes in that Millennial and Gen Z age group.
That compared to about an extra 43,560 voters in the predominantly Gen X group of voters, aged 40 to 59. However, that section of the electorate was bigger overall by about 59,000 compared to the under-40 voters.
Voters aged over 60 made up about 933,600 of the nearly 2.9 million people who voted in 2020.
Ardern and the Covid pandemic dominated the 2020 election. A large number of swing voters who ticked Labour considered themselves centrists. Labour won nearly half a million new voters compared to 2017 with 51 per cent of them in the 18 to 39 age group. There was a large number of non-tribal floater voters.
Opinion polling now shows support for the main parties at about 32 per cent, with backing for the major minor parties - Act and the Greens - at 10 to 13 per cent.
A Roy Morgan poll at the end of March showed interesting gender/age splits, suggesting a complex picture.
Men aged 18-49 preferred a Labour/Greens result, while those 50-plus wanted National/Act by a wider margin. That was reversed for women, with those aged 18-49 going for National/Act and the over-50s preferring Labour/Greens by a narrower margin.
Support for the Green Party was unsurprisingly higher among both men (16.5 per cent) and women (15 per cent) in the 18-49 age group compared to people over-50 (3 and 7 per cent).
It’s a contrast with the United States, where a dramatic political week suggested the basic dynamics there remained similar to the last couple of election cycles. Donald Trump, racial attitudes, and abortion rights remain motivating issues for many voters.
Here the situation is so tight, it seems likely that Te Pati Māori may end up with the kingmaker role.
With the economic outlook uncertain and getting-by still a struggle, possibly into next year, the main parties’ focus on the basics seems logical.
Younger voters would want a mixture of assistance now, plus signs of an improving situation and plans to get there. That means some pragmatic measures that will make a dent in long-term problems.
Both the main parties and their possible allied parties have roles to play in appealing to different goals.