Looking back at Northcote party polling

Claims were made by Labour, and National in response, about ‘party polling’ leading into the voting period for the Northcote by-election.

NZH: Simon Wilson’s Northcote Notebook: Labour closes gap in Northcote byelection

Labour Party polling for the Northcote byelection puts candidate Shanan Halbert just 2.1% behind National’s Dan Bidois. Sources close to the party confirmed that, in a poll conducted last week, Halbert was preferred by 46.3 per cent of those asked, and Bidois by 48.4 per cent.

That’s a change from a poll conducted by Labour in early May, which had Bidois leading Halbert by a more comfortable margin, 50.8 per cent vs 44.4 per cent.

National Party sources dispute these numbers. They say their polling shows a gap of about 8 per cent.

In the days before election day Labour candidate Shanan Halbert and leader Jacinda Ardern both said the election would go ‘down to the wire’. as did a party press release: It’s down to the wire in Northcote by-election

Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern and Northcote Labour candidate Shanan Halbert campaigned together today in Northcote, emphasising how important it was that people get out and vote for a strong local voice before 7 pm Saturday.

Shanan said “It was a pleasure hosting Jacinda in the Northcote shops today. We spent time encouraging locals to ensure their voice is heard by joining the thousands of others who have already voted in the by-election.”

“We know from the polling that this race is down to the wire. If everyone who voted for me in the 2017 General Election votes for me again in this by-election, Northcote will have a strong local voice in Government come June 10th.”

if everyone who voted for the National candidate in the general election voted National again Halbert wouldn’t have a chance.

It’s normal for parties to talk up their chances going in to an election, but quoting party polls without giving any details should be viewed with scepticism.

Halbert was running against a nine year MP and Cabinet Minister in the general election, while he was up against a virtual unknown from out of the electorate in the by-election.

Election night results for the National and Labour candidates in the Northcote by-election:

  • Dan Bidois (National) 10,147 – 50.98% (general election 52.27%)
  • Shanan Halbert (Labour) 8,785 – 44.14% (general election 35.25%)

Election night majority 1,362 – difference 6.84%.

So that is nowhere near the 2% claimed by Labour. It is quite close to what National claimed.

There could be a number of explanations, like – Labour support faded late in the campaign. or more Labour supporters didn’t get out and vote.

It could also be that Labour bullshitted about their polling to try to talk up a close contest.

Or Labour’s polling is crap.

For all we know Labour’s poll asked something like “Will you vote for the local candidate SHANAN HALBERT, or the unknown out of electorate candidate with a foreign sounding name?”

Or the polling was done by Labour’s door knockers.

Whatever the reason it emphasises that caution should be taken about any polls – they are an approximate measure in the past, not a prediction of the future despite what media try to say.

And one-off party polling claimed during an election campaign, with no details given and no history of polls showing trends, should not be promoted by media as news, and should not be taken to seriously.



  1. Blazer

     /  June 10, 2018

    give or take a polling margin of error and both positions are correct.
    ‘ but quoting party polls without giving any details should be viewed with scepticism.’….btw where is evidence of all this ‘eyebrow raising’ you speak of.

  2. alloytoo

     /  June 10, 2018

    Labour were incompetent with their polling or Labour lied?

    That’s pretty reflective of this government.

    • Blazer

       /  June 10, 2018

      I always remember National party stalwart and ex Mc Cully squeeze,Michelle Boag telling a blatant lie to a gullible journalist who was actually upset when he…tumbled…
      As political commentators know politicians lie,but Key plumbed new depths with his minimum quotient of …1 a day,every day.

      • Shanan Halbert ? What sort of name is that ?

        Dan Bidois is hardly foreign sounding. There are Maori Bidoises !!!

  3. Martyn Bradbury:

    The best thing about the entire by-election was Simon Wilson’s incredibly insightful and clever coverage. His columns were easily the best and proof that fine political journalism is actually possible still in NZ.


    Wilson was angling at a Labour upset. That wasn’t very insightful, nor clever.

  4. George

     /  June 10, 2018

    labor lie.
    Pretty good summation.

  5. Jay3

     /  June 10, 2018

    This was Halbert’s best chance of winning Northcote for Labour. He had the advantage of a practise run in the campaign he conducted in Northcote for the general election. This had also raised his profile in the area. He should have also been able to capitalise on Jacindamania – she visited his electorate often enough during the campaign. He even had Labour cheerleader Simon Wilson writing supportive articles in the Herald. His opponent was an inexperienced campaigner from out of the area and virtually unknown. Prior to the election it was being generally called a bellweather electorate, Labour and some in the media are suddenly now calling it a safe National seat in an attempt to explain the loss. Halbert’s best bet is probably a place on the List.

    • PDB

       /  June 10, 2018

      Exactly – Halbert had the much higher profile in the electorate, had only just recently run a full campaign for the electorate in last years general election, being a one-off campaign had the full focus of the Labour party, had the advantage of a low voter turnout and got the advantage of tactical votes from Green supporters and STILL lost.

      How the left can claim this as some sort of ‘win’ is just nonsense.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  June 10, 2018

        Who could take an adult man called Shanan seriously ? The name alone is a turnoff.

  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  June 10, 2018

    Wilson was writing with an agenda as Bradbury noted. Probably the only thing to be taken from his story and poll was that National was still ahead.

  7. Zedd

     /  June 10, 2018

    whilst it maybe true that Lab. did ‘claw back’ the majority.. did anyone expect them to win on the ‘North Shore’ (part of Aklds; ‘millionaires row’).. 😦

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  June 10, 2018

      They didn’t claw back a majority here, although they think that they did.

      • Traveller

         /  June 10, 2018

        Kitty. It would seem that third form fractions were skimmed over and years later Stats 101 was an abject fail.

  8. Zedd

     /  June 10, 2018

    I did see ALCP got 93 votes (?).. go Jeff ! 🙂

    • I would never vote for them, as it’s a wasted vote; I’d rather find a sympathetic candidate with a chance of getting in, or lobby for the cause. It will come !

      • Zedd

         /  June 10, 2018

        I hear you kitty.. but they do keep it ‘on the agenda’ & reminding us..
        ‘why is NZ so far behind nearly all other OECD countries now ?’ 😦

        • From what I gather, the boys in blue don’t go out of their way to find dope smokers.

          • Zedd

             /  June 10, 2018

            maybe not, but why is it reportedly much easier to get synthetics & meth/P ?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  June 10, 2018

              I don’t know. Is there real evidence that it is ?

            • That is not an answer, PDTs.

              Is there more than anecdotal evidence ? I have no idea.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  June 10, 2018

              It looks as if the PDTs have no idea, either, or they would say so.

    • PartisanZ

       /  June 10, 2018

      Zedd, if the “War Against Drugs” was Vietnam, “Peace Will Come” might still be appropriate?

      According to plan … ?

  1. Looking back at Northcote party polling — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition