Were I still in the business of proposing future honours research projects at Canterbury, I'd be pitching this one. Anybody please feel free to run with it: I'd love to know how it goes.
The National Party decisively won the 2014 election, taking the Party Vote in all but the poorest of Christchurch suburbs. While National polled well even in Christchurch's more earthquake-affected Eastern suburbs, National polled well everywhere.
Take 2008, 2011, and 2014 polling-place election data. Combine it with Census data for the meshblocks forming the natural catchment for each polling place. Predict National's 2008 party vote on the basis of underlying demographic characteristics. See whether changes in those characteristics predict changes in local-level National Party support in 2011 and 2014 for areas outside of Christchurch. Then, add in CERA data on land earthquake status in Christchurch as additional explanatory variable for Christchurch in 2011 and 2014. Christchurch's poorer neighbourhoods were also its more quake-affected ones. Was voting in quake-affected poorer Christchurch neighbourhoods substantially different from voting in poorer Auckland or Wellington neighbourhoods?
Can we reasonably interpret Christchurch's pro-National vote as endorsement of the handling of the rebuild? If more quake-affected polling places returned a higher-than-otherwise-expected National vote, then perhaps we can. If National fared more poorly than expected in the more quake-affected polling places, then perhaps not. You could also exploit split-ticket voting here. Informal Twitter discussion after the election suggested Labour voters would support their local Labour MP while giving their Party Vote to National as expression of disapproval with the Labour leadership or of support for National's overall policy agenda. Was split-ticket voting in Christchurch different from split-ticket voting elsewhere, correcting for the pre-quake Christchurch split-ticket vote in 2008? Was Gerry Brownlee's electorate vote stronger or weaker than we might expect for a government Minister?
If it is possible to get EQC and CERA data on the proportion of completed earthquake claims in each meshblock, that would be a fine additional variable. Finally, if you have time, give some thought to how migration from 2008 to 2014 might have affected results: would the out-migration of the worst-affected residents introduce attenuation bias?I would love to know how EQC completion rates affected National's Party and Electorate votes.