Voters feel betrayed by Winston Peters

It should hardly be a surprise that some people who voted for NZ First, giving Winston Peters a disproportionately strong hand in negotiating a coalition agreement with Labour, are having some voters remorse.

Some NZ First voters will have preferred NZ First did not side with Labour and particularly with the Greens, but it is specific issues that are apparently dismaying many.

Mike Hosking at NZH: Kiss of death – Winston Peters is betraying his voters

I am receiving large levels of correspondence, and I am not the only one, from people saying they are embarrassed or ashamed that they voted New Zealand First.
They feel duped, ripped off, if not hoodwinked.

And it’s the foreign aid package that’s tipped them over the edge.

A chunk of the New Zealand First vote was to allegedly keep National honest. The theory being, and in normal circumstances under regular rules there was logic, that National would be picked because Winston had picked them before and fundamentally he’s a conservative.

Hence him having to swallow that massive dead fish on oil exploration, not to mention irrigation bans and the dairy crackdown. But the Foreign Affairs package – and it’s $900m worth of aid and more diplomats – is not what a New Zealand First voter would have had at the top of their priority list.

The regional fund might have been. And that still has potential, potential to help the regions and get the party votes. And the key, and this is what virtually all the correspondence is saying, the key is in the name. New Zealand First.

Where’s the New Zealand First in foreign aid? And all this on the back of the news that cheaper doctors’ visits in this country have been delayed.

If all this aid was getting us somewhere, brilliant. But it isn’t. For a party that’s done nothing but go backwards in the polls since the election this is not worth a single vote.

It might well be the kiss of death.

It’s far too soon to rule NZ First out in 2020, but it’s also too soon to know whether Peters will stand again – and if Shane Jones takes over as predicted he will unlikely to appeal to the same people who voted for Peters.

But polls are suggesting some significant voter remorse.

  • Election result 22 September 2017: 7.2%

1 News (Colmar Brunton) polling for NZ First since the election :

  • 9 Nov – 5 Dec 2017: 5%
  • 10–14 Feb 2018: 2.6%
  • 7–11 Apr 2018: 5%
  • 19–23 May 2018: 4.2%

Newshub (Reid Research):

  • 18–28 Jan 2018: 3.8%
  • 27 May 2018: 2.4%

This compares to post 2014 election polls for NZ First (election result 8.66%) – Colmar Brunton:

  • 14–18 Feb 2015: 6%
  • 11–15 Apr 2015: 7%
  • 23–27 May 2015: 7%
  • 11–15 Jul 2015: 7%

Reid Research:

  • 20–28 Jan 2015: 6.9%
  • 21–27 May 2015: 8.1%
  • 15–22 Jul 2015: 8.4%

The last polls prior to last year’s election  were close to NZ First’s result:

  • Reid Research 13–20 Sep 2017: 7.1%
  • Colmar Brunton 15–19 Sep 2017: 4.9%

Both those final polls were taken during early voting.

Obviously a lot can happen between now and the next election, but being in Government will mean that Peters will be more limited in what he can claim, and voters will decide on performance more than promises.

And next election it will be harder for NZ First to create an illusion that they could go with National or Labour, after last year’s farce for ‘keep National honest’ voters.

Northcote by-election polls

Early voting has opened in the Northcote by-election. ‘Election day’ is 9 June.

There have been claims from both Labour and National about polls leading into the voting period, however these are internal polls commissioned by the parties with no details made public, so should be viewed with scepticism. I’m posting about them here to put it on the record, so claims can be compared to results.

The Daily Blog on Thursday:

The latest internal polling by Labour astoundingly suggests that Labour could beat National in Northcote!

I’ve just seen the latest polling for the Northcote by-election and it’s much closer than we thought.

Going into this race we knew we were underdogs – and, if I’m honest, it looked like we had a huge mountain to climb to even get close given National’s huge majority.

But the latest polling we received yesterday reveals there are just a few points in it. There is a chance Labour could do well on June 9.

Labour have just sent this out to their Northcote support team, and if true could be one of the biggest upsets in a  safe National electorate since Winston took Northland!

Labour has emailed not just members but apparently it’s whole email list (someone I know in Dunedin with no connection to Labour got one).

Referring to a tweet that it had been posted on The Daily Blog:

We will just have to wait and see what the result is. A lot may depend on party ‘get out the vote’ organisation and voter motivation, which can be low for by-elections like this with little but party egos at stake.

Typically single electorate polls can have quite small sample sizes so have higher than normal margins for error.

And by-elections with nothing much riding on them can have very low turnouts. Turnout comparisons in Mount Albert (which Jacinda Ardern won early last year):

  • General election 2014 – 36,922 votes
  • By-election 25 February 2017 – 13,649 vote
  • General election 22 September 2017 – 38,760 vote

These are the by-election candidates in Northcote:

Candidate Name Party
BERRY, Stephen ACT New Zealand
BIDOIS, Dan National Party
CHEEL, Tricia Democrats for Social Credit
HALBERT, Shanan Labour Party
JAUNG, Rebekah Green Party
KOLONI, Kym Independent
LYE, Jeff Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party
WALSH, Liam NAP

Colmar Brunton poll – little movement

A day after the Newshub/Reid Research poll another poll with largely similar results, this one from 1 News/Colmar Brunton:

  • National 45% (up 1)
  • Labour 43% (no change)
  • Greens 5% (down 1)
  • NZ First 4.2% (down 0.8)
  • Maori Party 0.9% (down 0.3)

Nothing much new there. The changes are insignificant.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 41% (up 1)
  • Simon Bridges 12% (up 2)
  • Winston Peters 4% (down 1)
  • Judith Collins 2% (no change)

So no boost (or loss) for Labour after the budget, and National support remains high despite a lack of traction for Bridges.

Greens scoff at National+Green option.

In their latest poll Newshub did the usual pointless prediction of possible governing numbers (an election has never been decided on a media poll):

These two alternatives presume two major things:

  • That NZ First will not make the threshold – predicting the political demise of NZF and Winston Peters has been proven wrong many times over the years.
  • That Greens would consider a coalition with National over Labour.

It was made very clear during the last term, and especially during coalition negotiations last year, that Greens did not see National as an option for them.

Greens have virtually said that unless National adopts all the Green Party policies then they won’t consider any political alliance (this is ironic given the number of compromises Greens have made with Labour and especially with NZ First, but that’s another story).

This was reiterated by Green party member Matthew Whitehead at The Standard in Pollwatch: Reid Research, 27/05/2018

There is zero chance, despite what Newshub implies, that the Greens will even look at today’s National Party as a valid coalition partner. You would need 75% of Green delegates at our AGM to agree to even consider a coalition deal from them, and the perception that we could do so tends to hurt us in polling. Implying such a deal would even be considered is pretty mischievious.

John Hart, who was 12 on the Green list for 2017 and was expected to become an MP until the Green’s crashed a month before the election, tweeted:

@farmgeek So ACT isn’t included in the Labour/Greens numbers because that would be ridiculous right? And yet lumping Greens in with National…

@StewartLundNZ I think the point was to show that without the Greens, National has no shot at getting back in. But labour would only need the Greens – no need for Act’s seat

@farmgeek That’s cool, but I’d prefer they stick with reality-based scenarios.

@MJWhitehead  Yeah, the correct thing to do here would just be to show NACT at 59 because that coalition ain’t happening with National looking anything like it does today.

@ConanMcKegg Really trying to push that Blue Greens narrative still. I’d have thought that would have died by now.

Gahhhhhhhhh — what part of the Greens will never ever be in govt with National do media not get !? P o l i c y s – light years apart.

I haven’t seen anyone in Greens suggest that going with national in any way was a possibility. They look fully committed to Labour or bust.

Interestingly I can see no poll reaction from @NZGreens, jamespeshaw or @maramadavidson – actually they have been veryu quiet on everything over the weekend.

But that won’t change the apparent impossibility of a National+Green option.

What now for Bridges?

There had already been murmurings in media about Simon Bridges leadership of National before the latest poll (Newshub/Reid Research) had him at 9% ‘preferred Prime Minister’.

Newshub headlined their poll with Simon Bridges failing to connect with voters – Newshub poll and the l4esd paragraph was worse:

A Newshub-Reid Research poll has brought some seriously bad news for Simon Bridges.

Mr Bridges, who has now been in the role three months to the day, has earned just 9 percent of the vote in the preferred Prime Minister stakes – the lowest result for a National leader in over a decade.

The poll, which is the first to be conducted since the new Labour-led Government’s first Budget, suggests his status as leader of the Opposition is failing to get any real traction with voters.

This is despite National support holding up on 45.1% to Labour’s 42.6%.

And also as has been murmured lately, Judith Collins got a promotion: Judith Collins makes surprising appearance in preferred Prime Minister poll

Prime Minister Judith Collins – how do those four words strung together make you feel? For 3.7 percent of New Zealanders, it feels pretty good.

Because for the first time ever, Ms Collins has registered in our Newshub-Reid Research poll as a candidate for preferred Prime Minister.

However, Ms Collins is ranking higher than Ms Ardern did when she first appeared as a preferred Prime Minister in 2015. Back then, Ms Ardern debuted at 3.5 percent.

But this is dire news for the actual leader of the National Party, Simon Bridges – his preferred Prime Minister ranking is just 9 percent.

I’m not sure how 9% is dire but 3.5% is somehow seen as an ominous appearance in the poll.

What should Bridges do about this poll? Nothing except continue on his two and a half year strategy. As one person put it, “his listening tour now is classic first year opposition stuff”. Travelling the country meeting as many people as possible is relatively low profile, but an essential in creating credibility and support.

I don’t think an election has ever been lost on a ‘preferred Prime Minister’ poll this far out from an election.

Jacinda Ardern peaked at 4.2% in 2016, and was averaging about 6% for the first half of 2017, suddenly spiking to 26% in early August, 6 weeks before the election.

There’s no reason Bridges can’t do something similar (unless he continues to look like a damp squib) if National are still near or ahead of Labour in the all important party poll, especially if NZ First look like they do now, out of contention, and if Greens look shaky again.

Neither James Shaw or Marama Davidson rated at all in the ‘Preferred prime Minister’ poll – Shaw got 0.4% with Colmar Brunton in December and February, but his absence in this poll means nothing about Green prospects.

Winston Peters got 4.6% in the latest poll, about average for him since the election, and he is going to be acting Prime Minister soon.

We have no idea how Jacinda Ardern’s popularity will track over the next two years. She may or may not even lead Labour next election. And that isn’t what is important anyway.

Bridges should carry on with his strategy and hope that he finds a formula that connects him with voters. More importantly National as a whole need to continue to look like a credible alternative.

Media will keep posting pointless poll stories – they use polls to create news, not to give a non-emotional balanced indicator of a snapshot of public opinion that is very minor in the whole scheme of things.

The opposition will continue to talk up doubts over National’s leadership.

The niche blog Whale Oil will continue it’s primary role as a political activist, talking up Collins and trying to trash Bridges. That’s been their modus operandi – promoting Collins and trashing Key/English/Bridges – for years. But 3.5% is a long way from suggesting their is wide support for Collins, even within National.

And WO’s toxic association with Collins will make things difficult for her – if she still has leadership ambitions. She is probably the most prominent and effective Opposition MP  at the moment, but it’s not uncommon for a non-leader to be the primary attack weapon of a party.

All this poll does is create a flurry of speculative comment, until the next poll. And there’s going to be many more of them before the election.

It’s not unusual for many people to prefer the current Prime Minister to be the Prime Minister – but Ardern’s 40%, well short of a majority, shows that it means little.

It is almost certain that National would suffer in the polls if they switched leaders every time media made a headline out of a single number. Labour struggled for eight years and ten months in Opposition, and their revolving door leadership was a significant part of that.

Bridges has far more important things to work on then ‘preferred PM’ polls that mean very little under MMP.

Newshub/Reid Research poll – May 2018

The first poll since the budget, from Newshub/Reid Research:

  • National 45.1% (up 0.6%)
  • Labour 42.6% (up 0.3%)
  • Greens 5.7% (down 0.3%)
  • NZ First 2.4% (down 1.2%)

ACT, Maori Party and The Opportunities Party were not mentioned.

The only movement that is statistically significant is the drop for NZ First.

National and Labour will be happy their support is holding up – perhaps surprisingly for National given the amount of publicity Jacinda Ardern has had internationally recently and with her pregnancy, and how much attention Labour got out of last week’s budget.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 40.2%
  • Simon Bridges 9.0%
  • Winston Peters 4.6%
  • Judith Collins 3.7%

Not surprising to see Ardern well ahead. Bridges is struggling be be seen or liked.  Support of Peters is waning ahead of him becoming acting Prime Minister soon.

Judith Collins makes her debut – she has been the most prominent and effective Opposition MP, and liked by some in the National Party.

39% said Peters would ‘do well’ in the top job.

Newshub stories:

Trump administration low on ethics

A Gallup poll rates the Trump administration the lowest on ethics of an administration since polling on ethics began in the 1980s.

Overall, how would you rate the ethical standards of top Trump administration officials — as excellent, good, not good or poor?

  • Excellent 7%
  • Good 30%
  • TOTAL FAVOURABLE 37%
  • Not good 19%
  • Poor 40%
  • TOTAL UNFAVOURABLE 59%

Gallup: Trump Administration Officials Get Low Marks on Ethics

  • Lowest administration ethics rating Gallup has measured
  • Contrary to typical pattern, Trump job approval exceeds ethics rating
  • May 1-10 Gallup poll.

With Trump approval ratings averaging on the low forties that suggests that some people don’t care  much about ethics.

Past poll results:

The only other president below 50% was Bill Clinton and he recovered significantly.

Despite wedding media mania majority still prefer NZ head of state

A poll done by Curia Research for NZ republic shows little change in support for a New Zealand head of state versus the monarchy.

  • Would like an elected head of state 45%
  • Would like a head of state selected by Parliament 11%
  • TOTAL for NZ head of state 56%
  • Next head of state to be a British monarch 38%

The poll was conducted last week during widespread royal wedding coverage. It had 930 respondents, margin of error of 3.2%.

Trend for NZ head of state:

  • 44% June 2014)
  • 47% (April 2015)
  • 59% (August 2016)
  • 56% (May 2018)

NZH: All the best to Harry and Meghan, but a Kiwi head of state still preferred, survey shows

“The latest poll results show support for the next head of state to be a New Zealander is still in the majority, 18 percentage points clear of support for the British Monarch” a campaign spokesman said.

Support for a republic was favoured by more than half of all age groups except those in the 61 and older bracket, where support dipped to 49 per cent. However, even in that case the number was higher than support for continuing the monarchy, with 46 per cent in favour and 5 per cent undecided.

However, Sean Palmer from Monarchy New Zealand said it was misleading to combine responses favouring a Kiwi head of state.

Those who wanted a democratically elected head of state might favour continuing the monarchy over Parliament deciding and visa versa, he said.

Calling the republic campaigners “out of touch”, Palmer said republicanism was an out of date, 20th-century idea.

“We live in a modern interconnected world that’s constantly shrinking.”

“When I’m speaking to young people, that’s the thing they’re concerned with – how is New Zealand going to fit into the modern world.”

Recent attention to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding and the joy in New Zealand at Prince Louis’ birth showed interest in the Windsors was anything but waning, Palmer argued.

That’s media attention. It is no indication of general public opinion.

“There is no indication of New Zealanders losing their interest or association with the monarchy.”

The poll suggests otherwise. Palmer did not back his claims with any other poll data.

A pointless poll on pregnancy and politics

1 News got Colmar Brunton to do a pointless poll on Jacindas Ardern’s performance as PM while being a mother. It is likely to be a month or two before she becomes a mother, so how does anyone know?

1 News: Becoming a mum won’t have an effect on Jacinda Ardern’s performance as PM – 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll

Political commentator Jennifer Lees-Marshment says in an ideal world it would not be a topic for discussion.

Media commissioning polls to create populist ‘news’ is not ideal either, but it has become normal click-bait creating practice.

Experts say that the Prime Minister is a role model for working women.

Global Women board member Felicity Evans says “seeing her adequately and brilliantly doing her job whilst being a mum and being pregnant. It’s perfect.”

That sounds like just one ‘expert’. Using terms like ‘brilliantly ‘ and ‘perfectly’ doesn’t sound like objective expert assessment.

In response to that Ms Ardern says, “I’m no superwoman and I wouldn’t want to give that impression.”

“The fact that I am able to do what I’m doing and be a mother at the same time is because I have a huge amount of support around me.”

Support is very important, and it will be particularly important once Ardern has her baby. It will still be a big challenge for her – she may take it in her political stride, but there is no way of knowing how it will go until it happens.

By then 1 News will have probably moved on the more important polls, like what the baby’s name should be.

Colmar Brunton poll – little change

Polls have been scarce lately. 1 news have their second poll of the year. It doesn’t show anything drastic – a bit of movement from Labour to their Government partners.

  • National 44% (up 1)
  • Labour 43% (down 5)
  • Greens 6% (up 1)
  • NZ First 5% (up 2)
  • Maori Party 1%

So Labour have eased back a bit after a difficult period, and National have held up despite the exit of Bill English and Steven Joyce – it is the first poll since Simon Bridges took over leadership.

Greens and NZ First have both improved marginally (at Labour’s expense).

  • Refuse to answer 4%
  • Undecided 8% (down 1)

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 37% (down 4)
  • Simon Bridges 10% (up 9)
  • Winston Peters 5% (up 1)

The gloss seems to have worn off Ardern a bit. It’s early for Bridges, he will still hardly be known by most of the electorate.

Peters doesn’t seem to be liked outside NZ First support.

Poll conducted 7-11 April 2018.

What try hard bollocks.

National are likely to be pleased a change of leadership has barely changed their support.