Understanding New Zealand 3: Who Voted Greens in 2020

Like the ACT Party, the Greens have been described as the next generation’s alternative to the Establishment. Also like the ACT Party, the Greens increased their vote from 2017, although the Greens only increased slightly, from 162,443 votes (6.3% of the total) to 226,757 votes (7.9% of the total). This was enough for ten seats in Parliament.

As in previous years, those who voted Greens in 2020 were much better educated than the average New Zealander. This, more than anything else, was the most distinguishing characteristic of the Greens voter.

VariableVoting Greens in 2020
No qualifications-0.64
Level 1 certificate-0.58
Level 2 certificate-0.53
Level 3 certificate0.31
Level 4 certificate-0.60
Level 5 diploma-0.71
Level 6 diploma0.05
Bachelor’s degree0.59
Honours degree0.77
Masters degree0.74
Doctorate0.77

The correlation between having any one of the three highest university degrees and voting Greens in 2020 was at least 0.74. This is one of the strongest correlations between any demographic variable and voting for a particular party in 2020.

On the other hand, the correlation between having no qualifications and voting Greens in 2020 was -0.64.

The Greens are a large enough movement to present different faces to different people. Although some might see Marama Davidson and Golriz Ghahraman, and decide that the Greens are a dangerous pack of Brown Communists, others see Chloe Swarbrick and James Shaw and decide that the Greens are the only party who take science and scientific evidence seriously.

VariableVoting Greens in 2020
Casting a special vote for Yes in the euthanasia referendum0.70
Casting a special vote for Yes in the cannabis referendum0.68

This latter point is shown most clearly in the results of the cannabis referendum. There was a very strong positive correlation of 0.68 between casting a special vote for Yes in the cannabis referendum and voting Greens in 2020.

The correlation was even more strongly positive for the euthanasia referendum, which speaks to the absence of religious superstition among Green Party voters. The most common reason for people to vote No in the euthanasia referendum was a superstitious fear of death, and not many Green voters suffer from this.

VariableVoting Greens in 2020
No religion0.31
Buddhism0.22
Christianity-0.39
Hinduism0.09
Islam0.10
Judaism0.54
Maori religions-0.30
Spiritualism and New Age religions0.34

It’s easily possible to overstate how irreligious the Greens are. Although there was a significant negative correlation between voting Greens in 2020 and being either Christian (-0.39) or a follower of a Maori religion (-0.30), these were the only religions to be so negatively correlated.

The strongest positive correlation between voting Green in 2020 and belonging to a religion was with Judaism, at 0.54. Next was Buddhism, at 0.22. For the most part, this follows the rule that, the better educated a voter is, the more likely they are to vote Green.

The one notable exception is people who follow Spiritualism and New Age religions. This group is not particularly well educated, but they like to vote Green nevertheless. The correlation between being a Spiritualist or New Ager and voting Greens in 2020 was 0.34. The explanation is probably because Spiritualists and New Agers share with the Greens many anti-capitalist and anti-consumerist sentiments.

VariableVoting Greens in 2020
Living in an urban electorate0.30
Living on the North Island-0.08

Surprising to many is the fact that Greens voters in 2020 were significantly more urban than rural. Some might suggest that this shows the Greens to not really care much about environmental issues. A more plausible explanation is that educated people have to move to urban environments to get the jobs that make the most of their skills, and so it’s the fact that Green voters are highly educated that explains why they are so urban.

Green voters are slightly more likely to live on the South Island. These correlations reveal that their strongest support is in places like Christchurch, Dunedin and Nelson.

VariableVoting Greens in 2020
Working as a manager-0.04
Working as a professional0.75
Working as a technician or trades worker-0.50
Working as a community or personal service worker-0.03
Working as a clerical or administrative worker0.03
Working as a sales worker-0.09
Working as a machinery operator or driver-0.58
Working as a labourer-0.48

The most striking thing about Greens voters is how heavily represented they are among professionals. The correlation between voting Greens in 2020 and working as a professional was 0.75, one of the strongest between any party and any occupation. This is inevitable given how well-educated Greens voters and professionals both are.

There were significant negative correlations between voting Greens in 2020 and working as a machinery operator or driver (-0.58), as a technician or trades worker (-0.50) or as a labourer (-0.48).

These correlations might seem strange, given that the Greens are a firmly left-wing party and therefore are supposed to represent the working class. But the reality is that the Greens represent a specific part of the Establishment, namely the young, well-educated, globalist left whose parents vote National.

VariableVoting Greens in 2020
European0.19
Maori-0.27
Pacific Islander-0.19
Asian0.12

Many will also be surprised, given the virtue signalling that the Greens do around Maori issues, that there was a significant negative correlation (-0.27) between voting Greens in 2020 and being Maori. There was also a negative correlation between voting Greens in 2020 and being a Pacific Islander.

On the other hand, there were positive correlations between voting Greens in 2020 and being either a Kiwi of European descent or Asian. These correlations were not significant, but they reflected the general trend that the better-educated any one group of New Zealanders is, the more likely they are to vote for the Green Party.

VariableVoting Greens in 2020
< $5,000-0.01
$5,000-$10,0000.34
$10,000-$20,000-0.37
$20,000-$30,000-0.37
$30,000-$50,000-0.52
$50,000-$70,000-0.04
$70,000+0.52

That voting Green is not considered a working-class option is underlined by the fact that there is a negative correlation of -0.52 between voting Greens in 2020 and having an income of $30,000-$50,000. Someone working 2,000 hours a week, or close to it, at or just above minimum wage will be in the middle of this income bracket.

On the other hand, there was a strong positive correlation of 0.52 between voting Greens in 2020 and having an income of $70,000+. So many people in the top 15-20% of income are Greens supporters.

In summary, the typical Greens voter is young and urban, and is either a full-time student or has earned a postgraduate degree and is earning a full-time salary as a professional in a major urban centre. The correlation between voting Greens in 2020 and being female was 0.16, which was not significant, but which speaks of a leftist bias.

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This article is an excerpt from the upcoming 3rd Edition of Understanding New Zealand, by Dan McGlashan and published by VJM Publishing. Understanding New Zealand is the comprehensive guide to the demographics and voting patterns of the New Zealand people.

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