Trump punts on no debate

Donald Trump seems to have punted on attracting more media attention by pulling out of the final Republican debate before the first caucus in Iowa than he would have got by taking part.

It’s not the first time he’s threatened to pull out of a debate but the first time he’s actually done it.

Politico reports Donald Trump quits debate to stay center stage

With less than 150 hours before the Iowa caucuses, Trump thrust himself squarely into the center of the political conversation and the news cycle with his surprise declaration that he would boycott the final debate before voting begins in Iowa.

At a combative press conference before a rally here, Trump said he wouldn’t participate in Thursday’s Fox News showdown because co-moderator Megyn Kelly is biased against him, and because he found Fox’s response to his concerns childish.

“Let’s see how they do at the debate,” Trump said. “Let’s see how many people watch.”

This is not the first time Trump has played hardball with a debate host.

In his press conference, Trump continued his months-long tirade against Kelly, who moderated the first GOP debate last August, calling her a “lightweight” and “third-rate reporter.”

He can’t handle a ‘lightweight’ reporter?

Ted Cruz is using the wimp out to fight back against Trump.

Cruz picked up the same line as Fox in challenging Trump to a one-on-one debate in Fairfield, Iowa. “Just a few minutes ago, the news broke that Donald Trump is refusing to attend the debate here in Iowa on Thursday,” he said to a mixture of boos and applause. “He announced he will not be there. Apparently Megyn Kelly is really, really scary.”

The crowd laughed.

“This race is a dead heat between Donald and me, we are effectively tied in the state of Iowa. If he is unwilling to stand on the debate stage with the other candidates, I would like to invite Donald right now to engage in a one-on-one debate with me, anytime between now and the Iowa Caucuses,” he said.

He ticked through a list of potential moderators from conservative talk radio, including Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity—but if they are “too scary,” Cruz mocked, then he and Trump could “do 90 minute, Lincoln-Douglas, mano-a-mano, Donald and me. He can lay out his vision for this country, I can lay out my vision in front of the men and women of Iowa.”

It’s getting to the serious business part of the contest and Trump may find it more difficult to manipulate media for his own benefit so much.

FiveThirtyEight has Cruz and Trump level pegging on 44% each.


First poll for 2016

While it’s doubtful many people will be thinking much about politics in January Roy Morgan have released their first poll of the year. There’s little of note in this result with only minor moves, except perhaps for the Maori Party support doubling.

  • National 47% (down 2)
  • Labour 25.5% (down 1)
  • Greens 14% (up 1)
  • NZ First 6.5% (up 0.5)
  • Maori Party 3% (up 1.5)
  • Conservative Party 1% (up 0.5)
  • ACT 0.5 (no change)
  • United Future 0% (down 0.5)
  • Internet-Mana 0% (no change)
  • Independent/Others 0% (no change)

National won’t be too worried about 47%, around what they got in the 2014 election, but Labour should be concern about their decline.


New Zealand:

  • heading in the right direction 59.5% (no change)
  • heading in the wrong direction 28% (down 3)

Roy Morgan: New Zealand voting intention January 2016

Vague poll on US ship visits

NZ Herald has a vague poll on US ship visits to New Zealand, under a misleading headline:

Kiwis torn on US ship visits

I don’t know whether Audrey Young wrote the headline or not but the article doesn’t support the ‘Kiwis torn’ claim at all.  Kiwis are probably more torn over whether to take the Herald’s silly sensationalist headlines seriously.

I doubt that many New Zealanders think much or care much about US ship visits any more. It’s 30 years since our nuclear ship ban.

The Navy has invited the US Navy, among others in the world, to its 75th birthday celebrations in November and the Pentagon is considering it.

But an acceptance would run counter to the most significant remaining reprisal against New Zealand’s anti-nuclear laws.

The US Navy has boycotted NZ ports since 1986 when New Zealand was effectively expelled from the Anzus security pact with the US and Australia.

Reprisals have eased only in recent years. The ban on the US exercising with NZ was lifted only in 2010. But even then the Kiwis were not allowed to dock in naval facilities at Pearl Harbour but had to dock at a civilian wharf. President Barack Obama overturned that particular oddity for the 2014 Rimpac exercise.

Under New Zealand law, ships may visit only if the Prime Minister is satisfied they are not carrying nuclear weapons.

So under our law there is very little risk of a nuclear ship visit. So there doesn’t seem to be any actual problem.

Prime Minister John Key believes resuming ship visits would be a positive step and extend markedly improved relations between the nations.

“Most New Zealanders can see the relationship with the United States has dramatically improved in recent times,” he told the Herald. “A ship visit that is within NZ law would be a positive step.”

The poll results:

29.4 per cent don’t want a ship to visit at all

50.2 per cent think it would be a positive move

16 per cent displayed a sense of triumphalism by preferring to think it would be a victory for New Zealand’s anti-nuclear policy

No details are given of the number of people polled or method of polling.

Labour leader Andrew Little said the 50.2 per cent confirmed that people wanted NZ to have a good relationship with the US. “It is important that we do have a good relationship with them. But what is equally important to New Zealanders is our non-nuclear status. It has defined us as a nation for the past 30 years.”

That implies that Little would have no problem with a ship visit under our current no-nuclear laws.

About 30% don’t want a a US ship visit but about 66% are either positive about a visit or ‘displayed a sense of triumphalism’. Little:

He said the three options were not exclusive and there might be people who thought a ship visit was positive, but might doubt an assurance.

He’s right, the questions (as phrased by Young) are not clear cut and there is probably overlapping sentiments. And they exclude other reasons for and against supporting visits.

Mr Little believed the almost 30 per cent who did not want the US to visit would be those who, despite any assurances from the Prime Minister, would have doubts about whether any visiting US ship was actually non-nuclear.

There’s likely to be a number of reasons for the 30% against visits, including people who are simply anti US or anti military. From the polls results given it’s difficult to determine much.

The poll suggests that most people won’t have a problem with a US navy return to New Zealand.

There will probably be a small number who are stridently against any visit and we may get symbolic protests, but my guess is that most Kiwis aren’t ‘torn’ won’t care much if at all.

Three year poll of polls

David Farrar has posted his monthly consolidation of public polls at Kiwiblog and has a three year All public polls chart:

Farrar points out:

This graph of the last three years is quite telling. National is polling around 5% higher than three years ago and Labour around 5% lower.

It also shows Greens mostly down on three years ago, so Labour+Greens are struggling to impress in the polls.

The big unknown – and bigger than three years ago – is NZ First who often do better in elections than in polls but their poll numbers stayed up after last year’s election until a recent downward trend.

Winston Peters will be hoping to be in a position to be a deal maker between National and Labour after the 2017 election (they have hoped that for the last few elections without getting there).

But there remains a big question mark over how a deal could be made involving all of NZ First, Labour and Greens.

It currently looks like next year’s election is still National’s to lose.

ACT are likely to retain their Seymour seat in Epsom but an unknown is whether they can add and MPs.

I think it’s quite likely that this may be Peter Dunne’s last term in Parliament so that creates opportunities for various parties in Ohariu. It’s most likely to be determined by National’s stance there as they should be favourites to take that seat if the want it.

The future of the Maori Party is also uncertain.

So regardless of the current polling and poll trends the 2017 elecion is up for grabs.

Race Relations Commissioner popular?

A NZ Herald poll shows that Race relations Commissioner Susan Devoy is more popular than unpopular, but I wonder how many of the public know much about what she does.

A Herald-DigiPoll survey asked people to rate Dame Susan’s performance:

  • Had done a satisfactory job – 58%
  • Her performance was “good” – 17%
  • She had done a “poor job 0- 16%

Devoy’s appointment was controversial but I wouldn’t be surprised if only a small percentage of the poll pool have much knowledge to judge her performance on.

Dame Susan’s popularity defies critics

Responding to the poll, Dame Susan said the result was interesting but her job was not a popularity contest.

“No matter what I do or say, some people will remain opposed to me and the work I am doing with our team at the Human Rights Commission. I just hope that they will take on the broader messages and think about the issues.

“New Zealanders don’t like being told what to do so that’s why we try to focus on highlighting real-life incidents and encouraging Kiwis to think about the issue and to do the right thing.”

She said she truly believed New Zealanders were fair-minded people, but race relations was a work in progress and Kiwis had to keep challenging themselves to be better people.

“It’s not something we can rest back on our laurels over.”

I was aware of Devoy’s appointment in 2013 and saw public criticism of it. I’ve seen her criticised on blogs. I’ve seen the role and the Race Relations Commission criticised.

But the poll suggests that those vocal about and critical of Devoy’s appointment may be a smallish minority.

How many people really know what the Race relations Commissioner does and how effective she is?

I don’t think it’s possible to judge from a few controversial media stories and a bit of blog bitching..


Flag polls versus referendum

The second flag referendum will be held in March this year. Some people are guessing the outcome but there’s been no polls since the alternative flag option was chosen by last December’s referendum so it’s difficult to judge what the outcome could be.

And polls may not give us an accurate idea of what the end result will be.

In October UMR polled on the first referendum and varied from the actual vote.

UMR Poll Referendum Difference
Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) 32.90% 40.15% 7.25%
Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) 36.40% 41.64% 5.24%
Red Peak 18.10% 8.77% -9.33%
Silver Fern (Black and White) 6.60% 5.66% -0.94%
Koru 6.00% 3.78% -2.22%

There are significant differences. And the final result was wrong:

UMR Poll Referendum Difference
Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) 48.20% 50.58% 2.38%
Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) 51.80% 49.42% -2.38%

UMR also polled on comparing alternative designs to the current flag:

  • Current flag 64%/65%
  • Lockwood designs 35%/36%

Research New Zealand also polled in October:

Do you agree or disagree that New Zealand should adopt a new flag?

  • Agree 28%
  • Disagree 61%
  • Don’t know 11%

Taking out the don’t knows:

  • Agree 31.5%
  • Disagree 68.5%

Quite different ways of asking and different results. But on the alternative choices Research New Zealand were way off the mark and quite different to UMR.

  • Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) 31%
  • Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) 23%
  • Red Peak 22%
  • Koru 5%
  • Silver Fern (black and white) 1%
  • None of these 10%
  • Don’t know 9%

I think the only thing we can take out of the poll indications versus the referendum result is that at best they only give us a rough idea.

Now that there is just one alternative option to the current flag that will mean people think differently about their choices. It’s possible that preferences will consolidate to the current flag, or they could swing to the alternative fern version.

A lot could depend on how motivated to vote either camp is. There’s obviously some who strongly want no change, and there are some who strongly want a new flag.

The big question mark will be on those who don’t feel strongly about it, and whether they will bother to vote or not. Polls aren’t good at predicting whether people will vote.

My prediction is that the vote will close up but I have no idea by how much.

It will come down to momentum. If a swing to change gets traction then it could get quite close. Otherwise tradition and apathy could win easily.

CBB 1904 750x202 Ref Two



Increase in TPP support

NZ Herald reports on increased support for the Trans Pacific Partnership since September, and decreased opposition, but a larger number have no view.

  • Support TPP on the basis it would be good for New Zealand’s economic well-being – 27.4% (up from 22.9%)
  • Oppose it on the basis of the investor-state dispute settlement provisions 25.8% (down from 30.3%)
  • No view on TPP – 45.9% (no change)

The TPP agreement  was concluded in October, between the polls.

That’s a sizeable shift from opposed to support, perhaps due to details of what was in the actual agreement becoming known. Prior to the agreement being made protesters had been making many claims about what might be affected.

It doesn’t surprise me that nearly half of those polled don’t know about or don’t care about the TPP.

No details were given of the poll in Public support for TPP increases.

In New Zealand, the deal will be subject to a national interest analysis by officials and together with the final TPP text, will be scrutinised by the foreign affairs and defence select committee.

Any associated legislation will have to be passed by Parliament.

Once those two steps are completed – the cabinet will commit New Zealand to it – all parties have up to two years to ratify it.

Mr McClay told the Herald that he would not rush the process and envisaged it taking a year to get through, although he wanted New Zealand to be one of the first to ratify it. “I’ll be looking to take a good amount of time to do this. It is a 6000-page document,” he said.

“I think it is important that all New Zealanders have an opportunity to understand it better and to have their say through the parliamentary process. But at the same time we want to be one of the countries that gets it ratified and in place at the front of the queue.”

Mr McClay said the TPP had caused more anxiety than any other trade agreement he could think of and yet it was an “exceptionally high quality” agreement.

“So we will be looking at getting out with some of our experts to talk about TPP more. We’ll be doing that through the course of the year.”

He said final plans were still being worked on but in his view, ISDS was an important part of the the deal because it protected New Zealand investors in overseas markets.

He said TPP could not be misused – and tobacco companies could not use ISDS at all.

The TPP will eliminate tariffs on 93 per cent Zealand exports except two categories: beef into Japan and dairy products into Japan, US, Canada and Mexico.

Beef tariffs into Japan will be reduced. Tariffs on some dairy products will be eliminated or reduced but tariff quotas will be introduced on some dairy products.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade estimates TPP will add $2.7 billion a year to New Zealand’s GDP by 2030.

Todd McClay took over as Trade Minister from Tim Groser after the agreement was made.

The anti-TPP protesters seem to have taken a summer break.

Guide to political polls

One of the best sites to follow if you’re interested in US elections is Nate Silver’s Five Thirty Eight especially anything poll related.

They’ve just posted a good guide to US political polling. Some of this can apply to New Zealand polling as well.

Harry’s Guide To 2016 Election Polls

  1. Wait. Shrug off polls until just before primaries, or until after the conventions for the general election. Even within a week of a primary election, the polls are often inaccurate. The polls more than a month out are, at best, a guesstimate. General election polls are far more accurate on the eve of an election, and the candidate who leads after the major party conventions is likely to win.
  2. Ignore national primary polls – they measure nothing. (But state polls matter.) Unlike in general elections, when all states vote on the same day, the primary calendar is sequential; each state’s results often affect the next state’s. The national polls don’t add to your understanding of the race — just look at surveys of the upcoming states.
  3. Ignore hypothetical matchups in primary season – they also measure nothing. General election polls before and during the primary season have a very wide margin of error. That’s especially the case for candidates who aren’t even in the race and therefore haven’t been treated to the onslaught of skeptical media coverage usually associated with being the candidate.
  4. Look for polls of likely voters, not just registered voters. Voter turnout in primaries and non-presidential year general elections is often low. If you want to know who is going to win, you need to poll the people who are more likely to vote.
  5. Look for polls using live interviewers; they’re often more accurate. Although there are solid pollsters who don’t use live interviewers, studies show that pollsters who do tend to be more accurate in primary and general elections. Live-interview pollsters can reach landline and cellphone users, while robo-polls and Internet pollsters often miss big slices of the population.
  6. Be wary of Internet polls; they’re less tested. There are a number of good Internet pollsters, such as SurveyMonkey and YouGov, but these pollsters don’t have a long track record in primaries. In general elections, they tend to be at least as accurate as other types of pollsters.
  7. Know the polling firm – some are waaay better than others. Polls sponsored by major news organizations (ABC News, NBC News, The New York Times, etc.) are often the most accurate because more money is spent on them. If you haven’t heard of a pollster before, there’s probably a good reason for it. If you’re in doubt, check the FiveThirtyEight Pollster Ratings.
  8. Margin of error and sample size matter less than who’s in the sample. Good polling costs a lot of money, so many times the best polls have a smaller sample size (the more people you call, the costlier the survey). That raises the statistical margin of error, but the margin of error for a sample of 400 is less than double that for a sample size of 1,000. What you don’t want is coverage error, in which you’re polling people who won’t even vote or ignoring people who will.
  9. Beware polls tagged “bombshells” or “stunners.” Outliers are usually wrong. “Surprising” polls are usually outliers. Anyone remember when Gallup called for a Mitt Romney victory in 2012? That was wrong.
  10. Instead, look at averages or trends in polling. There’s a reason we aggregate polls at FiveThirtyEight: The aggregate is usually better than any individual pollster. That’s especially the case in general elections. In primaries, the trend line can be more important, as a candidate with momentum heading into a contest often outperforms his or her average.
  11. Asking people about their votes “if the election were tomorrow” is designed to heighten drama by reducing “undecided” responses. The average primary poll finds that only about 10 percent of voters are undecided, even months from the election. Yet, the vast majority of primary voters don’t make up their minds until the final month before voting. The true number of undecideds are far higher than polls indicate far out from an election.
  12. Consider the motives of the media reporting on polls. They want headlines. This one is self-explanatory. The media are interested in your readership. Moreover, partisan news outlets are more likely to give press to those polls that favor their preferred candidate.

Also consider the motives of political blogs that comment on polls. Most have an obvious slant. When a blog doesn’t comment on a poll it can say more than when they do.

Being a pollster with a very good (polling) reputation David Farrar at Kiwiblog is the most useful in New Zealand.

He also has poll summaries on the blog on his Curia website.

Polls can be interesting and useful but they can only ever be approximations of what might happen in elections or referendums in the future.

“If an election was held today” poll run over several days is quite a different situation to if an election was held today and we voted.

How do you know when to trust a poll?




Most annoying people at work

As many workplaces wind down for the year Colmar Brunton has published a poll on the top 10 most annoying types of people at work.


Time to escape the most annoying people at work

When offices close for the festive season this year, Kiwi workers will be looking forward to a break from dominators, untidy people, megaphones, lingerers and intruders.

They are the most annoying types of people at work according to a newly released survey from Colmar Brunton.

Dominators – those people who talk over others – were rated as the most annoying workmates this year with 36% of those surveyed including them in their top three. Women (42%) and those in the 30-49 year age group (46%) most disliked being talked over.

Colmar Brunton Account Manager Jessica Balbas says the types of people identified in the survey reflect a number or traits common to offices and other workplaces throughout the country.

“Every workplace has these types of people, but what the survey shows is that while we are quick to recognise faults and annoying habits among our workmates, we may be lacking a little bit of self awareness or honesty about our own behaviours.”

The 1000 Kiwis surveyed were asked what the most annoying types of people at work are and which of the types best describes themselves.

In the most annoying stakes, people who leave their desk or common areas untidy (26%), megaphones (loud talkers who have exaggerated conversations), people who hang around and talk even though you have work to do and intruders (people who butt into conversations) rounded out the five most annoying types.

Others to get up the noses of their fellow workers include the black hole (someone who doesn’t respond to emails), the photocopier bandit (someone who leaves the photocopier jammed and the wanderer (someone who wanders around aimlessly).

The Dominator (someone who talks over others) 36%
The Untidy One (someone who leaves their desk or common areas untidy) 26%
The Megaphone (a loud talker who has exaggerated conversations) 25%
The Lingerer (someone who lingers to talk, even though you have work to do) 25%
The Intruder (someone who butts in to conversations) 23%
The Sniffer (a person who constantly sniffs) 21%
The Borrower (someone who borrows stuff without asking) 20%
The Black Hole (someone who doesn’t respond to emails) 18%
The Noisy Eater (a person who chews loudly while eating at his or her desk) 16%
The Wanderer (someone who wanders around aimlessly) 14%

And how people describe themselves at work:


But when it came to looking in the mirror, the greatest number described themselves as pen clickers (20%). A total of 14% identified themselves as backseat workers (someone who answers questions intended for someone else), 12% said they are untidy (slightly more men than women) or lingerers, while 10% fessed up to being intruders.

However just 5% admitted to fitting the dominator persona, 4% described themselves as megaphones and a mere 3% said they leave the photocopier jammed.

“Everybody will be able to relate to these types of people in the workplace but the test is whether they take an honest look at themselves. Then, whether they can change their own behavior when they return to work in the New Year for the good of their fellow workers,” Ms Balbas says.

Shoddy flag poll report

The Herald on Sunday reports on the flag referendum and shoddily quotes an unscientific self selecting online poll.

Flag referendum: Most like old flag

Even the headline is very misleading – the referendum did not determine any preference for the old flag, it was wholly about choosing a preferred alternative and was nothing about the old flag.

New Zealand’s 113-year-old flag will win next year’s binding referendum, according to an online poll, but the March vote could be close.

Fifty-six per cent of respondents to an online Herald survey yesterday said they would vote to retain our current design, which officially became our flag in 1902.

Forty per cent of the 7500 who took part in the unscientific poll said they would back Kyle Lockwood’s black, white and blue silver fern, the provisional winner of stage one of the referendum.

Note the changing descriptions of the poll in the headline and first three paragraphs.

  1. “flag referendum: most like old flag”
  2. “an online poll”
  3. ” an online Herald survey”
  4. “the unscientific poll”

They don’t say that online self selecting polls are notoriously unreliable. They don’t quote a margin of error because that cannot be determined – the chances of error are high.

In the online survey, 3 per cent said they wouldn’t vote and a further 1 per cent said they would spoil their vote.

If the Herald online “poll” was accurate that suggests that 97% of people would vote in the second referendum.

About 48% voted in the first referendum. In the last general election 77.9% of eligible voters took part.

From the headline down this is a shoddy report from Tess Nichol at the Herald on Sunday.

The unscientific self selecting poll/survey result is actually closer than scientic polls earlier in the year, but that’s meaningless.


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