The National Party had formed its first administration after the 1949 elections. It had then been re-elected by a large margin amid the industrial disputes of the 1951 election. The Prime Minister, Sidney Holland, was popular in many sectors of society for his strong line against striking dockworkers and coalminers, while Labour's leader, Walter Nash, had been criticised for his failure to take a firm stand on the issue. Labour was troubled by internal disputes, with Nash subjected to an unsuccessful leadership challenge only a few months before the election. For the election, the National government adopted a "steady as she goes" approach, saying that the country was in good hands and did not need any major policy realignments.
The date for the main 1954 elections was 13 November. 1,209,670 people were registered to vote, and turnout was 91.4%. The number of seats being contested was 80, a number which had been fixed since 1902.
The 1954 election saw the governing National Party re-elected with a ten-seat margin, a drop from the twenty-seat margin it previously held. National won forty-five seats to the Labour Party's thirty-five. The popular vote was much closer, however, with the two parties separated by only 0.2%. No seats were won by minor party candidates or by independents, but the new Social Credit Party managed to win 11.2% of the vote.
Norton, Clifford (1988). New Zealand Parliamentary Election Results 1946-1987: Occasional Publications No 1, Department of Political Science. Wellington: Victoria University of Wellington. ISBN0-475-11200-8.
Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC154283103.