Different poll reactions

It has been interesting to see different reactions to political polls from different political blogs. The Standard especially – in the past polls unfavourable to Labour or Labour+Greens were sometimes ignored by post authors and rubbished in comments , while favourable polls were trumpeted. Being a pollster himself David Farrar had to be more professional in his posting and analysis, but commenters are as selective (bad) with their bias as at The Standard.

Yesterday’s new Stuff/YouGov poll was good for Labour, Greens and NZ First (and ok for ACT), and not so good for National.

Kiwibloggers piled in with disbelief and conspiracies – from here in General Debate.

Captain Mainwaring:

That poll was utter crap, and since it was sponsored by Stuff, even more so.

RW Capitalist:

Yet EVERY other poll has National ahead of Labour and Arderns numbers going south


So Stuff has a poll out that is catastrophic for the future of New Zealand, if accurate. I may have missed previous polls, but how long has Stuff had polling and do they have a consistent record of accuracy?

I guess there’s no reason to assume it’s wildly inaccurate which means those polled have no level of incompetence and corruption they won’t put up with.


Stuff are the epitome of fake news.


A Stuffed-up poll.


Labour must be getting desperate and getting Stuff to run an alternative political poll that shows some dubious results – Given the performance of the government over the last months the poll outcomes are laughable. Looks a bit like a ‘push poll’ to manipulate public thinking, but as the outcomes of this governments shambles starts to affect joe- public tax payer; no amount of BS is going to change the thinking publics view.

Even National stalwart Tony Stuart joined the affray:

Quite so Tricati. Instead of the traditional methodology of polls, this one operates from a web panel. Quite how they put together said web panel would be interesting to know, as it is likely to represent established political leanings rather than being a random selection of potential voters. It reminds me of the former Horizon poll, which was hopelessly out of step with other polls.

From the other side of the political divide, Blazer here at Your NZ:

This looks like it will become the most reliable poll.

Te Reo Putake was quick off the mark at The Standard: November Stuff Poll; Nats Knackered

Stuff have released their latest YouGov political poll. It’s grim reading for the Tories and current leader Simon Bridges.

It isn’t their latest poll, it is the first Stuff/YouGov poll, so they have no track record to compare with other polls or to give any idea of trends.

I think ‘Tories’ is supposed to be derogatory (a bit like calling Labour ‘Socilaists’), but it’s a lame dig. Most New Zealand voters will have no idea who it refers to.

Comments began from ‘mango’:

I Have to say that I am skeptical of all opinion polls. But at least this one counters the false narrative that the msm drew from the last couple of polls.


Mango How cqn any poll be free of bias when every poll is either run by corporates or finance industry pundits?

At least Yougov was begun by a UK conservative politician and then listed on the public stock exchange for offer to the public so I am o/k with this pollster.


terrific.  As it should be.  Aren’t YouGov known to be very accurate.?  Seem to remember exit polling on a British election


If this poll is accurate then it represent a huge defeat for the relentlessly negative culture war tactics of the Topham-Guerin social media strategy adopted by Bridges since the unexpected Liberal victory in the Australian federal election.

You would think alarm bells are ringing in National about strategy, and given how heavily Bridges is identified with the all-out online culture war approach the implications for him personally are dire.

I expect that National won’t be bothered much by this poll (apart from the bad publicity) unless it is in line with their own internal poll. I’m sure they are keeping a close watch on trends to monitor how their negative divisive advertising and leader’s dog whistling and barking at cars is going.


A general observation:

Stuff have been doing some good stuff in recent times. Their extended Erebus podcasts (together with RNZ) has been riveting stuff.

Which is irrelevant to the poll but seems to be trying to give it some gravitas.

There were some more circumspect and intelligent comments. Observer made some interesting points:

Ardern’s 62% approval rating is entirely in line with the most recent TV3 and TV1 polls (Reid Research, Colmar Brunton).

Polls on party vote can jump around, and especially with minor parties, get over-analysed for statistically insignificant changes. But the approval rating is a very consistent pattern that can’t be dismissed as “rogue” or “margin of error” or “name recognition” like preferred PM.


A couple more points on the details:

1) See the NZ First voters’ responses on Ardern and Bridges. Completely squashes the myth that they might favour National over Labour.

2) The combined vote for ALL “other parties” is 1%. So that’s Sustainable NZ (who?), the New Conservatives (who?), the Tamakis (who?), and any other fantasy partner for National.

And this is after Tava got his headlines from the launch.

There really is nothing there, and it’s high time lazy commentators stopped pretending there is.


No need to “believe”. Simply read.

As I’ve pointed out, there is a trend, and it is across all polls.

While this poll can be compared to other polls it doesn’t say anything about trends because we don’t have any history for YouGov so there is no trend.

When they launched The BFD tried to distance themselves from Cameron Slater, which looked obviously because of legal and financial issues. But recently they have been naming Slater.

It now looks confirmed that Whale Oil morphed into The BFD, and the author ‘Cameron Slater’ (which looked like a cover for various authors) has morphed into ‘SB’, which while used by Slateers wife Juana Atkins looks increasingly a semi anonymous cover for Slater and possibly for paid for promotions. Same old.

Like the fading Whale Oil, The BFD is usually quite slow to react to topical stories but ‘SB’ was quick off the mark yesterday with National Slips Under 40 & No One Likes Simon Bridges – LATEST Poll

This continues the tone of the ‘Slater’  campaign against National and Simon Bridges.

National’s caucus and indeed media should ask Bridges to prove his claims that National’s internal polling is different from this poll. An unwillingness to share would be reveal the lie. Bridges knows that his own internal polling shows he is deeply unpopular, even amongst National supporters.

This looks like familiar Slater/Lusk (who is apparently now promoting NZ First, as Whale Oil did and The BFD tries to do) – innuendo and veiled claims to have inside information, but with no evidence.

“An unwillingness to share would be reveal the lie” is utter nonsense. I don’t think National ever reveal their own polling, and they are not going to do so in response to pathetic threats like that.

There was not many comments (The BFD looks to be struggling for attention) – but despite the post trying to make a political play on the poll there were a few disbelievers.


This poll is almost certainly reflecting sample bias.


Let’s see – Stuff are involved, their track record of biased reporting is universally accepted, and we trust these results why?


I am surprised someone experience in politics believes this poll for one second.

SB political posts have been getting some very negative reactions from the remaining participants.

(Some interesting comments at Kiwiblog on The BFD from here)

Later in the day Farrar posted on the poll at Kiwiblog: A new poll

Stuff has got back into the polling business, having published a poll done by YouGov.

It’s great to see another public pollster. Before this we only had One New Colmar Brunton and Newshub Reid Research. If Newshub dies, then we may have been left with just one public pollster.

A good point.

But fair to say the results of this poll are quite different to the two recent TV polls.

  • National – 38% (SYG), 47% (ONCB), 43.9% (NRR)
  • Labour – 41% (SYG), 40% (ONCB), 41.6% (NRR)
  • NZ First – 8% (SYG), 4% (ONCB), 4.0% (NRR)
  • Greens – 8% (SYG), 7% (ONCB), 6.3% (NRR)

So the three polls broadly agree with Labour and Greens but disagree on National and NZ First.

The differences for National and NZ First are well beyond the margin of error.

So what this means is that either there has been a massive change since the TV polls (mid Oct to early November) or one or more of the polls are wrong.

I think he’s overstating some of the differences. National on 43.9% (NRR) compared to 38% (SYG) with margins of error at about 3% are not really that far apart.

YouGov polls are done entirely through online panels. YouGov is a very good company globally and has a good track record in the UK of accuracy. In the US their record is more mixed. Five Thirty Eight gives them a B- rating.

As I said it is a good thing YouGov are now polling in New Zealand, but I’d caution against reading too much into their initial poll. As always, it is the trend that matters.

Yes, good to have another poll but interpreting their first result needs to be done with caution.

You have to give Farrar credit for another thing – he is very good at not revealing the polling he does for National. What this indicated at the same time that the YouGov poll was conducted would be very interesting, but he keeps that a secret.

Comments on the post at Kiwiblog are the same old dissing of unfavourable results. ‘chaos’:

When you are paying people to do the survey you get the answers people work out you want to hear so they get paid.

As I said elsewhere I had this survey and lied my ass off in it.

If true (I think that’s doubtful) it would have made very little difference to the overall results.

The vast majority of voters don’t read blogs so I don’t think stuff or YouGov will be worried about the negative reactions.

Leave a comment


  1. Blazer

     /  26th November 2019

    Bolger was right…’bugger the polls’.

    My comment re YouGov poll…was …tongue in cheek.

    • Corky

       /  26th November 2019

      Bolger was right. In the final analysis, only one poll matters. And that poll will have no built-in flaws.

      • Gezza

         /  26th November 2019

        Be afraid, Corky ! Be very afraid.

        • Corky

           /  26th November 2019

          Yep, thieve my money to give to the hopeless. And given I’m near calling the election in favour of National, given Raptor Patrol has been mooted, I believe Labour will target voters big time with big benefit increases at budget time.

          • Duker

             /  26th November 2019

            Raptor Patrol ?
            After 9 yrs in government and doing nothing about gangs , but freezing the police budget- which meant they cut back on many many previous enforcement activities- a ‘ssilly’ pool boosting policy is announced.
            Simon may not be so sure about the ‘SYG poll being wrong’ as he makes out, as allways, ‘not what they say but do’ in reaction to bad news is how to catchout the fibs

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  26th November 2019

              Marama is being evasive and disingenuous…she must know that it won’t be possible to raise benefits by 20%. She’s waffling.

        • Corky

           /  26th November 2019

          I see Marama has had a makeup makeover. And I have to say, it makes her look attractive. Meanwhile, the PM is still is to find her fashion sense.

  2. Trevors_elbow

     /  26th November 2019

    Stuff. The organ of the Left leaning Wellington Public Sevice set w/ a top of Greens.. it’s a shambles and very biased. It’s why it and its paper version the Dom Post are dying..

    YouGov … who pays them gets to set the questions and structure… who does pay them?

    • Blazer

       /  26th November 2019

      Stuff is part of Nine Entertainment,formerly Kerry Packers media holding.

      Public listed and hardly left leaning AT ALL.

    • Duker

       /  26th November 2019

      Dominion Post has been anti labour and greens for ever. Its the advertisers ( and directors) who direct the papers policy , not the readers in a one newspaper town.
      Anyway if it was true that polls are slanted to match the people paying for it , Farrar would have been out of business over a decade ago if it worked that way.. His biggest customer with weekly polling on all sorts of political issues is …national

  3. Gezza

     /  26th November 2019

    It’s good to have a 3rd published poll, 2 wasn’t enuf. A 3rd one enables more of a trend to be guessed at, at least.

    While polls invariably produce “not what our polling says” or “I don’t pay any attention to the polls, the only one that counts is the one on election night” from those not doing well in the latest results, it’s pretty obvious all the parties DO pay attention to the polls.

    • Duker

       /  26th November 2019

      Trends ..schmends . What does your trends crystal ball tell us ?
      What every one is missing from this poll with a margin of error around 3.5% for the big parties is the National and Labour positions can be reversed
      National at 41 and Labour at 38 is an entirely valid result.
      Only elections can give an absolute number
      This one has labour ‘between ‘ 44 and 38.
      Trends just mean it can be time to change leader or change policies.

      • Gezza

         /  26th November 2019

        Trends ..schmends . What does your trends crystal ball tell us ?

        That there might be a leader change, that there might not.
        That there might be a policy change or two, that there might not.
        That one of the parties might start acting out of character – or in character, mucking their coalition partner about – or not implement policies they said they would.

        Polls make politics much more interesting in between elections. Look how National is floating its policies as proposals that might or might not be implemented. They’ll be watching the polls.

        That an election is the final & only poll that counts is a truism that doesn’t even really need stating, but whether regular political polls can make accurate predictors or not (they can’t: something major could happen in an election week that renders the best of them unreliable) they make for interesting performances from politicians.

        • Duker

           /  26th November 2019

          A spread of 7% in the main numbers AS well as 1 in 20 of your polls ‘on average’ being duds( you could get 2 out of 8 , trends being the only way to spot duds)
          Theres this belief that polls are ‘precise’ when they arent – different from being wrong ( which they can be too).
          Dont forget the ‘dont knows’ which could be an entire party of 8-10% !

          • Gezza

             /  26th November 2019

            Good points, Dukers, no question about that 👍🏼 but I don’t bloody care. They’re too much fun on telly when the party leaders respond. 😎


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