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Cunliffe in serious trouble in New Lynn
Having single-handedly sabotaged Phil Goff's campaign for the prime ministership by failing to provide him with fiscal data prior to the Press debate on Wednesday, and now in trouble for sexist remarks about Judith Collins, David Cunliffe can kiss goodbye his leadership ambitions - but things are just as bad for him in his West Auckland seat of New Lynn.
Ithas become part of our political folklore that the reason Labour managed to hold out against Don Brash in 2005 was because of party president Mike Williams' efforts to get Labour voters out in West (and South) Auckland. Equally, Labour's failure to get these voters to the polls in 2008 made John Key's victory certain.
I have some association with West Auckland through commercial interests, and I have been picking for some time the shift in West Auckland from red to blue.
Back in 2008, I picked that National's Paula Bennett would win in Waitakere while Tim Groser would come fairly close (buy miss out) in New Lynn. Matt McCarten responded by saying I was "spinning it" and "you have to draw a long bow to think any of the west Auckland seats will go to National." Turns out I had a better feel for Waitakere voters than the Unite union boss.
And, in fact, I was spot on in New Lynn too. Mr Groser beat Mr Cunliffe for the election-night party vote in 2008, and Mr Cunliffe only won the final party vote by 60 votes once specials were counted. That was a disgraceful result in a once strong Labour seat and his personal majority of 4025 wasn't that flash either.
My pick for 2011 is that, this year, Mr Groser will slash Mr Cunliffe's personal majority by at least 50%. The iPredict market seems to be thinking along the same lines, with just a 15% probability Mr Cunliffe will increase his majority. Personally, I think that is still overpriced and I have a short position on it.
As I say, I do think Mr Cunliffe will squeak home on the night, partly because New Lynn has been a Labour seat for its entire history, but also because, unlike 2008, Labour is alert to the risk. Auckland National Party organisore say they are stunned how much time and resources Labour is throwing into what is theoretically one of their safest seats.
Nevertheless, at anything up to 10c, I think Mr Groser to win is also a buy - if he pulls it off, every $10 invested would return $100 in just three weeks. Its worth a punt.
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