Pundits have overlooked voters in their rush to make the ACT and Conservative swap.
People are complicated, so we create stories that simplify things. But the story that the Conservative Party can replace the ACT Party in Epsom is a simplification too far.
In short, people who voted for ACT will not easily vote for Conservatives, if at all, because of the differences on matters of lifestyle preferences.
These are philosophical matters which are the most emotional, and most innate.
The simple story is possible because pundits discuss politics along one horizontal spectrum – the left / right divide (and because they willfully discount the smarts of the average voter).
If you look at politics using the left-right spectrum, then ACT and the Conservatives are both on the “right”.
But take a look at my estimate below of the ideological position of ACT and the Conservatives. They are polar opposites on matters of social / personal lifestyle choices.
People are similarly complicated and nuanced. They will not simply swap a vote for ACT for a vote for Conservative.
To discuss the concept as a possibility is not only politically naive, but is arrogant or ignorant of the sophistication of voters.
If ACT was not a choice, most ex-ACT voters in Epsom would far rather vote National, Labour or the Greens, than Conservatives.