3 News via Patrick Gower covered their latest poll result poorly. They showed either an awful knowledge of how polling works or they deliberately ignored polling 101 to promote misleading headlines.
Their online headline: Latest political poll big blow for John Key
National were down 2.5 to 45% – this will be a concern for National but it is a fairly moderate movement, well within the margin of error.
It probably reflects a reaction to how John Key has handled the fallout from ‘dirty politics’ (poorly) but it’s too soon to tell whether it is a temporary blip or a lasting change in support.
Labour were also down 2.5, to 26.4% – this should be at least as big a concern for them but the online article doesn’t mention it.
The lead paragraph and most of the article is on one theme:
John Key’s nightmare is suddenly real. Tonight’s 3 News political poll shows the Prime Minister can no longer do without New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.
That’s nonsense. This is just one poll three and a half weeks out from the election. It is far from certain that the Prime Minister “can no longer do without” Winston Peters.
NZ First were up 1.7 to 6.3% and look a good bet to remain in Parliament but there’s no certainty they will maintain this level of support nor any certainty they will hold the balance of power post-election.
Gower led his 6 o’clock news coverage with…
Yes dirty politics has caused political chaos.
One poll over-reported is not political chaos.
Look at these numbers, National takes a hit down 2.5 to 45.5, this hurts, John Key knows he could be gone on this…
Key already knew (and has said so a number of times) he will be ‘gone’ if the election doesn’t go his way. National 44.5% in January, 45.9% in March.
…but Labour also take a hit, down to 26.4%, that’s a drop of 2.6, voters simply do not see them as an alternative.
What? National could be gone but there’s no alternative? It’s Labour’s lowest 3 news result since November 2011 but hey, that’s not significant.
The Greens go up, one of their best results on this poll…
Up 0.5 (a negligible change in polling terms) to 13.5% which is their best result in the Reid Research records back to Sep/Oct 2010. Trending up since May.
…and just look at this, Winston Peters up to 6.3 percent, over the threshold, Peters is back, and just wait to see the mess that this could cause.
Of course a mess is great for headlines but is far from assured despite Paddy’s best efforts to talk one up.
While Peters is obviously dominant – and Gower seems to have an obsession with him – it is actually NZ First, the party, not just Peters. There is no guarantee Peters will be back, despite Gower’s wishes.
Turning now to the minor parties and the Conservatives, up to 4.6% – obviously picking up a protest vote from right wing voters turned National…
They quite likely got some protest vote but Colin Craig has claimed there jump is due to their campaign mail box drop. Opinion shifts can be for many reasons.
…not over the five percent threshold, remember John Key did not do that electorate deal in East Coast Bays, and won’t he be regretting that right now.
Why would Key regret making a sensible decision based on one poll? If Conservatives can sustain this support it’s quite possible they could keep surging past the 5% threshold. Or their support could drop back again, polls can be temporary and fickle.
Gower reported Key “pleading with his supporters for help” (like every other party does in an election campaign) – Key: “if there’s any National supporter that was thinking about the fact that they might be able to stay at election day leave it up to everyone else, um, maybe this poll will give them a wake up call”.
As for Internet-Mana, they are steady on 2.1%…
I think that’s quite notable. Internet-Mana were 0.2 in May and jumped to 1.8% in June when they combined and started campaigning, but since then have got 2.3 (July) and 2.0 (early August). Apart from one poll (Stuff/IPSOS having them up to 4% indications are Internet-Mana may have plateaued. Roy Morgan poll fortnightly and have always had them in the 1-2.5% range.
…and the other minor parties simply doing nothing and not worth talking about.
Small party support often moves late in an election campaign but Gower is totally dismissive, choosing to exclude them from any coverage. This makes it very difficult for small parties to be heard.
Turning now to seats in the house, this is worth talking about…
Some of the minor parties could be critical in this so are suddenly worth talking about.
…look at this, National 57 plus it’s allies that we say would get electorate seats, that would not be a majority in a 122 seat Parliament…
It’s far from certain it would be a 122 seat Parliament.
…they would only have 61 seats.
If a lot of uncertain results turned out as predicted by 3 News.
Turning now to the left wing block, they would get to 53 seats. It would all come down to New Zealand First’s 8 seats…
Again, far from certain that this exact result would be replicated in next month’s election.
…they would be needed to give John Key the power to govern, but if Winston Peters went to the left it would be a 61 all draw, now this is a hung Parliament, a tie, nobody could govern.
Apart from the many variables and assumptions involved this wouldn’t necessarily result in a hung Parliament. For example NZ First or Greens could agree to guarantee confidence and supply and remain on the cross benches. As much as Gower would love his poll to be definitive there are many possibilities.
It’s a realistic election night result.
It’s a possible result, but a non-tied or non-hung Parliament is far more likely.
Key would have to give Peters what he wants…
No, they would negotiate, and even on these numbers 57 versus 8 is a strong position. Some concessions would be made but Peters couldn’t dictate everything, that would be democratically ludicrous.
…or Peters could force another election.
Possibly, if Greens don’t step in. But there would be a lot of pressure on Peters to enable a stable Government. If he forced another election he and NZ First would be at high risk of being booted out by voters.
So first dirty politics, and now a political mess.
This is dirty poll reporting with a mess of assumptions and poorly considered assertions.
The report then showed sound bite edit of interviews with Key, Cunliffe, Peters, Craig. Typically Russell Norman described it sensibly as “dynamic is how…it’s dynamic at the moment”. Not in Gowers world, just before this Gower repeated his hung Parliament dream. Then 3:45 into the item Gower says:
But the political reality is it comes down to Winston Peters prefers as Prime Minister…
That’s just one amongst a number of possibilities so it’s far from a reality.
…he could choose Key or force a new election.
Dirty politics changing everything.
Not really, two or three months ago when NZ First rose to 5.1% Gower was just as adamant that that changed everything.
So Key has suffered a blow from dirty politics but it is not fatal, he could still govern on this, he’d just need Peters would be unlikely to force another election knowing he would be punished by voters and probably annihilated if he did…
Why mention that now rather than in earlier predictions?
…but just imagine the negotiations, a true nightmare scenario.
Gower’s nightmare is he would be shut out of the negotiations and would have to wait a week or two for a dramatic story.
And remember Labour on 26%, that’s a shocker, they are actually going backwards here.
So if they are going backwards by the time we get to the election the actual result could be different to Paddy’s poll?
Yet voters clearly think that Key has not handled dirty politics properly…
The poll does nothing to prove that.
So, dirty politics, a crazy campaign, and now chaotic results.
There is no result until September 20. The only thing that’s chaotic here is Gower’s reporting of just one of many pre-election polls.
Remember that polls ask “who would you vote for if an election was held today” – and the polling period is already historical. Polls don’t try to predict how people would vote on election day, they can’t look into the future. Neither should Gower.
There are 24 days to go.
That’s one accurate thing Gower has reported. He mentioned ‘dirty politics’ throughout his report but ignored this only fact in making all his dramatic projections.
Well informed voters rely a lot on media coverage. Reporting like this is grossly misleading and serves voters very poorly. It serves our democracy very poorly.
Gower is playing dirty politics with our election, putting his own ill-informed dramatics ahead of reason, facts and polling basics.
A political editor should be much better than this.
UPDATE: And Gower is just now talking on Firstline admitting he got previous predictions wrong, particularly regarding Colin Craig and the Conservatives. He has mentioned that Conservative advertising may have affected this poll result.