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Why the left wants everyone to vote

  • March 6th, 2009

A Canterbury University economist’s study based on the 2005 New Zealand Election Survey supports the  intuitive conviction that the left get advantage from state funds spent on getting out the vote.  Uninterested low quality votes favour Labour, but not the Greens.

The evidence is set out at length in Eric Crampton’s working paper just posted on SSRN.  In party political terms the effect is summarised as follows: 

When they get to the polls, the ignorant are significantly more likely to support the Labour Party (4% increase in predicted probability for a standard deviation increase in ignorance) and significantly less likely to support the Green party (1% decrease in predicted probability) and United Future (0.5% decrease in predicted probability).

Understanding economics strongly predicted supporting National in 2005, which comes as little surprise: the National Party leader was former Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. A standard deviation increase in our “economic thinking” index correlates with a 5.7% increased probability of voting National, a 1.5% decreased probability of voting NZ First, and a slight decrease in the probability of voting United Future and Maori.

The abstract concludes:

Political ignorance is not unbiased: rather, it strongly predicts policy and political party preferences after correcting for the demographic correlates of ignorance. Moreover, membership in the kinds of organizations held to allow the ignorant to overcome their deficiencies fails to improve outcomes. Voter ignorance remains a very serious problem

Update – Eric Crampton has a blog post for the study at



yes Stephen,
but I wouln’t be surprised if the uninterest just tick NAT next time.
Poor Helengrand
utter dismissal, utter defat and oblivion.


Pill Goff, who is that

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