7,239 fewer Northlanders voted yesterday than voted last September. That's a lot of people who really didn't care one way or the other. Or who didn't want the incumbent party, or anyone else.
Additionally, if people came out yesterday that hadn't voted in September (conceivable when you have a phenomenon like Winston rolling through the province) that makes the newly disinterested or disenchanted non-vote even bigger. Who did most of them vote for last time?
I'm not familiar with by-election research. The turn-out is always lower but I don't know who this generally favours. In any case, new precedents are set.
So Winston won the seat. But the other big winner looks like 1. Apathy - voting wouldn't change the government and/or 2. Disaffection. And not just with National.
The result doesn't particularly bother me. I'm not a cheer leader for National ( though I prefer them to a Left block). But it astounds and dismays me that so many people would put their hand up for a charlatan like Winston Peters.