Tova O'Brien: Clear loser in Northcote, and it wasn't the candidates

Dan Bidois and Shanan Halbert.
Dan Bidois and Shanan Halbert. Photo credit: Facebook

OPINION: A wise person once said 98 percent of statistics are made up. 

Likewise, numbers can be spun almost every which way to favour one side or another. 

Thus we have two parties - two enemies - both celebrating the result of the Northcote by election.

National is celebrating its win - candidate Dan Bidois' actual win - and its maintaining of roughly the same share of the vote as Bidois' predecessor, former Health Minister Jonathan Coleman. 

Labour is celebrating its candidate's vote share going from 35 percent at the last election to 44 percent in the by election. 

It can thank Green voters for that - they flocked to Labour - and New Zealand First for not standing a candidate.

Its candidate from the 2017 election, Kym Koloni, went full Donald Trump, screaming "drain the swap" and coupled that with frightening anti-Māori, racist rhetoric. She ran as an independent and her vote share plummeted, so that's a win for New Zealand. 

But there is one very clear loser. L-O-S-E-R. That's democracy. 

Voter turnout is always a bit crap in by-elections, and it was crap again - just 43.7 percent. 

The advance votes showed real promise for higher voter turnout - more than twice as many people voted in advance in Northcote than they did in the Mt Albert or Mt Roskill by-elections last year. 

Yes, turnout is up on those (27.6 percent in Mt Albert, 38.5 percent in Mt Roskill) but it's not a patch on the Northland by-election - 64.4 percent, which was still crap. The general election was 79.8 percent - we could still do better there.

So come on, guys - don't let the politicians be the only winners whether they won or not. Vote. 

Tova O'Brien is Newshub's political editor.