The NZ First poll jump fallacy

Does NZ First always get substantially more votes in an election than they poll? No, there have been a number of variations over the last few elections.

This sort of claim at The Standard is common:

NZF always get 5% additional votes at the Election cf to the polls so they are probably tracking at 16-17% which would appear to be about right at this stage ?

I’ve often seen journalists claim that NZ First get more votes than they poll. Sometimes selective poll results are used to try to justify the claims.

But the fact is that NZ First polling results and trends compared to election results has varied markedly over the last few elections. And there have been varying factors involved.

In 2008 the trend remained quite flat for NZ First – election result 4.07%:,_2008

In the months leading up to the 2008 election NZ First were embroiled in controversy over donations to the party. While Serious Fraud Office and Police investigated. Peters stood down from his ministerial roles (he was found not guilty of illegal wrongdoing).

In 2011 NZ First were all over the place, election result 6.59%,_2011

Always the political opportunist Peters benefited from the controversy over the ‘tea tapes’ involving John Banks and John Key late in the campaign.

In 2014 there was a bit of a late upswing – election result 8.66%:,_2014

This wasn’t a huge rise. In March 2014 NZ First had poll results up to 7% and through the year they often got 6.0-6.5%.

In August to December 2012 NZ First had poll results from 1.8% to 7%, often getting 5-6.5% (8 times in that range).

Every election differs, especially for smaller parties who can hardly be seen during the term and then get some attention during the campaign.

Some pundits have suggested that this election has similarities to 2005, except with major party roles reversed. National under Don Brash’s leadership had recovered from an abysmal 2002 low and went very close to beating Labour under Helen Clark.

A lot of late campaign focus then was on the two largest parties, and while NZ First ended up calling the coalition shots and ending up in government (remember the ‘baubles of power’) they lost ground late in the campaign.

In 2005 there was a late drop – election result 5.7%:,_2005

In June and August NZ First had been getting up to 10-11%.

Peters may find an issue that resonates over the next five weeks and NZ First may get more votes than they have been polling. But they could just as easily stay flat, and a controversy could see them slide like the Greens just have.

Many different things could happen.

Labour are currently resurgent and could suck support away from NZ First.

Voters could fear a Labour+NZ First+Green coalition and rally behind National.

TOP may have a late surge of ‘stuff the others’ vote at the expense of NZ First.

Age and the rigours of having to campaign in an electorate and nationally may catch up on Peters – there are signs of strain showing. He could have a health scare.

Shane Jones may do or say something stupid (he’s been quiet lately) and scare voters off NZ First.

Nicky Hager could launch another book.

Cameron Slater may score a vital hit against National (he’s been trying hard enough, largely in vain).

Jacinda Ardern could be found wanting in election debates and voters may desert Labour, some to NZ First.

Election campaigns inevitably throw up surprises, and that can mean opportunities for smaller parties like NZ First – and can also deprive them of oxygen.

One thing is certain – a significant number of voters make late decisions about how they vote, and this means there can be significant shifts in support – as there have been over the last month.

Making presumptions based on selected past poll trends is futile.

Recent polls for the Greens

The big dip in Green support shown in the Colmar Brunton poll published on Thursday caused consternation amongst Greens, with the usual claims of it being a bogus poll, or an outlier.

Some thought that it was proven inaccurate by the Roy Morgan poll published yesterday (Friday), but they failed to notice that while published after Colmar Brunton’s poll just about all of the RM polling was done before CB.

Both those pollsters plus Reid Research have show Green dives this month. Recent polls for the Greens:

  • RR 15 June: 12.5%
  • CB 1-5 July: 11%
  • RM 26 Jun-9 Jul: 13.5%
  • CB 22-27 July: 15%
  • RR 20-28 July: 13%
  • RR 2-8 August: 8.3%
  • RM 31 Jul-13 Aug: 9%
  • CB 12-16 August: 4.3%

All three polls show a significant dip in Green support in August, at the same time as Metiria Turei’s story as a beneficiary unravelled and disunity in the party became apparent.

RNZ’s last 4 poll average chart:

From Ardern turns the worm, but Green losses threaten left

The CB poll this week is the only one to be done after the resignations of Turei as co-leader and the withdrawal from the list of two Green MPs. We can’t be sure whether it was an accurate snapshot of Green support this week, or if it is an outlier.

It could be rock bottom for the Greens, as James Shaw claims, they and could bounce back by the time we get another poll.

Newshub (Reid Research) may be next to publish another poll, that would be useful to get an idea of how bad things are for the Greens.

Roy Morgan poll – August 2017

The latest Roy Morgan poll (NOTE: it is actually more out of date than the recent Colmar Brunton poll):

  • National 42.5% (down from 43)
  • Labour 32.5% (up from 30.5)
  • Greens 9% (down from 13.5)
  • NZ First 11.5% (up from 8)
  • Maori Party 1.5% (no change)
  • ACT Party 0.5% (down from 1)
  • United Future 0%
  • Conservative Party 0%
  • Other 2.5% (no change) – will include TOP

Polling period 31 July-13 August.

The Colmar Brunton poll was 12-16 August.

Turei stepped down as Green co-leader on 9 August.


Who has the better skill set to run the country?

More from the Newshub/Reid Research polling:

Who has the better skill set to run the country?

English: “My skills have been tried and tested – that’s for sure. But the big opportunity ahead is to build on what we’ve achieved”.

Ardern:: “I would expect the Prime Minister to have some home ground advantage.”

Obviously English is a lot more experienced at running the country, all incumbents are, but sooner or later voters prefer a change.

Is Jacinda Ardern old enough to be Prime Minister?

  • Yes 79%
  • No 17%
  • Don’t know 4%

Silly question. Of the 17% who voted ‘No’ many of them may just not like Ardern. Ardern has been an MP for 9 years and has prior political experience to that.

Is Bill English too old to be Prime Minister? Is Winston Peters too old to try to be Prime Minister? Just as irrelevant.

Of the 44.4% who supported National:

  • Female 46%
  • Male 54%

That’s a fairly even split, leaning slightly toward male support.

Ardern has strong support from women. Of the 33.1% who supported Labour:

  • Female 63%
  • Male 37%

Labour support ‘when Andrew little was leader’:

  • Female 55%
  • Male 45%

This suggests that the initial surge of support for Labour is from female voters. This isn’t really surprising.

What Newshub don’t reveal is the gender split for other parties. The total remaining:

  • Total 22.5%
  • Female 13.8%
  • Male 8.7%

NZ First + Greens totalled 17.5% with 5% supporting other parties.

I thought that women tended to favour the Greens, if so this suggests that either NZ First support heavily leans male, or the other party support is almost all male.

From: Newshub poll: Women key driver behind Jacinda Ardern’s surge


From: Newshub’s poll data bank

UMR poll

Labour’s private polling from UMR is being leaked, probably by a jubilant Labour party.


  • National 43% (up 1)
  • Labour 36% (up 13)
  • Greens 8% (down 7)
  • NZ First 8% (down 8)

UMR tend to be hard on National and good for Labour but taking that into account this this is quite close to tonight’s Newshub poll.

Greens have taken a hit and Labour have picked up their discarded support

Surprising to some NZ First has also dropped back but I think they had been picking up disillusioned Labour leaning voters who have been attracted back by Jacinda Ardern.

This poll gives a good indication of the impact of Ardern becoming Labour’s leader, but won’t take into account the latest upheaval in the Green Party, especially Metiria Turei announcing she will step down as co-leader and will withdraw from the Green list. She still intends standing in the Te Tai Tonga electorate at this stage.

But this is just one of two snapshot polls in a very volatile campaign environment, with the second party leader standing down in just over a week.

Expect more changes that could go in any direction for any party.

Newshub/Reid Research poll

The latest (July 2017) Newshub/Reid Research poll:

  • National 44.4% (-0.8)
  • Labour 33.1% (+9.0)
  • NZ First 9.2%  (-3.8)
  • Greens 8.3% (-4.7)
  • TOP 2.0
  • Maori Party 1.5%
  • ACT Party 0.6%
  • United Future 0.1%

A big move up for Labour. Game on.

National are hanging in there.

A big drop for Greens, and this won’t fully take into account what has happened over the past few days, Especially Turei’s resignation as co-leader.

And quite a bit down for NZ First too.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Bill English 27.7% (up 1.9)
  • Jacinda Ardern 26.3% (up 17.6)
  • Winston Peters 10.0 (down 1.9)

A huge jump up for Ardern.

Labour will be rapt. National will be more concerned. Greens will be dreading the next poll.

Talking of which, UMR reportedly has Greens down from 15 to 8, and Labour up from 23 to 36%.



Listener party poll

Listener polls don’t have a history so it’s difficult to judge their accuracy. They say the margin for error is +- 3% which is the same as other polls.

The way they present party vote poll is different to other polls so may be misleading so i have adjusted them so they are comparative.

  • National 45%
  • Labour 27%
  • Greens 14%
  • NZ First 9.3%
  • TOP 2.3%
  • ACT Party 1.2%

I have taken out the ‘Don’t know’ and ‘Not sure’ and scaled the rest. This is only approximate as their results are already rounded.

Polling done Tuesday 1 and Wednesday 2 of August, so as the Labour  leadership change was unfolding and before the Greens turned to custard.

This poll doesn’t really tell us much. The results look much in line with others with Labour already recovered a bit from other recent polls.

Here are the Listener results:

That includes the ‘Don’t know’ and ‘not sure’ totals which other polls don’t do so can’t be directly compared.

The Election Year Labour Leadership Snap Barometer continues our election-year research coverage. This online poll, carried out from 5pm, Tuesday, August 1 (the day of Labour’s leadership change), to 11.30am, Wednesday, August 2, canvassed 1175 New Zealanders aged 18 and over who were planning to vote in the general election. The results are weighted by age, gender and location, and the margin of error at the 95% confidence level is +/- 3.0%. See

From  Why Labour’s last-minute leadership change may be its salvation


Green hero now a liability?

A week or two Metiria Turei was riding on a surge of Green support after she admitted lying in relation to getting a benefit in the 1990s. She says it was necessary “to feed my child”, and also to enable her to study for a law degree. She later said she should also have been able to have some fun after asked about standing for Parliament in 1993 and 1996.

With Labour languishing it seems that the Greens poached a chunk of their support, and all was looking great for the Greens, with hopes they would get ahead of NZ First and possibly even challenge Labour for the second biggest party prize.

That bubble of ambition appeared to have been burst when Jacinda Ardern took over the Labour leadership and sucked up all the media attention. And Ardern threatens to compete with a similar demographic that Turei appeals to.

A shaken looking Turei had a meeting with MSD yesterday to discuss her benefit transgressions – she had already said she will pay back any money she fiddled out of the system.

And then a double whammy last night when a reality check Newshub poll showed that 73.9% of people responded yes to ‘Was it wrong for Metiria Turei to lie to get a bigger benefit?’, including 51% of Green supporters.

Newshub also asked questions about Turei’s living arrangements while she was claiming a benefit. She had already admitted lying about having flatmates, but has now conceded that for two years one of those flatmates was her mother.

“I also wish to confirm that my mother was my flatmate for a period during the mid-1990s.

“We were financially independent while living together in the same home.”

Newshub also showed that she shared an address for two years with the father of her child,

“I did not live at the same address as the father of my child.

“I was, however, enrolled to vote at the same address as him, which was in the Mt Albert electorate. A friend of mine was running as a candidate in Mt Albert in 1993, and I wished to vote for them.

Technically that appears to be an offence under the Electoral Act.

“That was a mistake – one of many I, like many other people, made as a young person”.

It is now apparent that Turei was making a number of deliberate’ legal mistakes, at the same time she was studying for a law degree.

Two weeks ago Turei even went international with her story. In The Guardian: I told a lie to claim benefits. Now I am an MP and I want to tell you why

‘A lie’ seems to be somewhat understating what she did over several years.

Over five years, I received a training incentive allowance (a benefit that has since been ditched by our current government), as well as a payment for single parents. I also had help from my family, and my daughter’s father’s family.

Despite all that support, which is much more than many people in similar circumstances have, I did not have enough money to pay the rent and put food on the table. And so, like many – but not all – people faced with that choice, I lied to survive.

I lived in a few flats over the years with a few different flatmates. I didn’t tell the government department in charge of my benefit about some of those flatmates. If I had, my benefit would have been reduced, and I would not have had enough money to get by.

Many sole parents do get by – with financial difficulty for sure, but they manage.

Still not clarified is what her daughter’s father was doing to provide for and support his child, if anything.

Turei is now claiming that this examination of her past and her ‘private life’ (that was publicly funded) is a reason why benefits have to be much higher and no questions should be asked.

But she has been a politician for 15 years, and should have known that if she used her personal story for political purposes, in an election campaign, it would likely attract some scrutiny.

The Greens have promoted their integrity. In June Turei posted on Facebook:

Todd Barclay’s actions damage the relationship between the public and the politicians elected to represent them. The Green Party wants to be part of a government you can trust and already have policies in place to show we are more than just talk.

She has deliberately revealed aspects of her past that she should have known had risks, and it now threatens the relationship between the Greens and the public.

So far co-leader James Shaw has supported her beneficiary campaign…

Turei’s co-leader James Shaw said he was proud of Turei for coming forwards.

“We actually treat poor people in this country terribly, and the law is an ass, in this case,” Shaw said.

…but there must be growing concerns in the Green camp after yesterdays developments.


Newshub poll – NAT 45.2%, LAB 24.1%

The latest (July 2017) Newshub/Reid Research poll has National into tricky territory, needing more than their current partners to get back in.

But most of the talk is about Labour diving, with three recent polls having them at 24.1% (Reid Research), 24% (Colmar Brunton) and 23% (UMR internal poll).

  • National 45.2% (down from 47.4)
  • Labour 24.1% (down from 26.6)
  • Greens 13.0% (up from 12.5)
  • NZ First 13.0% (up from 9.4)
  • The Opportunities Party 2.0% (up from 0.8)
  • Maori Party 1.2% (up from 0.7)
  • ACT Party 0.5% (down from 0.9)
  • United Future 0.2% (down from 0.3)

There is no escaping a dire situation for Labour and for Andrew Little.

A different balance between Greens and NZ First to the Colmar Brunton poll, with them level pegging here.

TOP will be happy to be on the rise but still a long way off the 5% threshold.

The Maori Party are in the vicinity of what they need to keep two seats.

ACT are failing to make an impact.


Preferred Prime Minister:

The Newshub-Reid Research poll was conducted July 20-28. 1000 people were surveyed, 750 by telephone and 250 by internet panel. It has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

1 News Colmar Brunton poll – Labour 24%

The latest 1 News Colmar Brunton poll has Labour down to 24, and in an interview a grim looking Andrew Little said he offered to stand down but his colleagues asked him to stay – probably because no one else wants to lead a debacle.


  • National 47% (no change)
  • Labour 24% (down from 27)
  • Greens 15% (up from 11)
  • NZ First 11% (no change)
  • Opportunities Party  2% (up from 1)
  • Maori Party 1% (down from 2)

This is bad for Labour. And if they keep diving Little may not get back in on the list, he is borderline at 24% depending on electorate results.

Greens will be happy to have risen but without Labour they won’t make it into Parliament. They seem to have given up on Labour and are going for whatever they can get – which is likely to be at Labour’s expense.

Interesting to see no change for NZ First.

TOP will be pleased to be on the rise.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Bill English 28% (up from 26)
  • Winston Peters 11% (up from 11)
  • Jacinda Ardern 6% (no change)
  • Andrew Little 6% (up from 5)

These are rounded results, full results usually take a few days to become available.

This poll was taken between Saturday the 22nd and Wednesday the 27th of July.

The Turei issue was still unfolding during this period so it’s too soon to tell what the lasting effect of that will be.