Labour leaks targeting Bridges

There have been a series of leaks of internal information obviously designed to damage Simon Bridges and National.

This began with the odd expenses leak just a few days before the information was due for public release, followed by the onslaught from Jami-Lee Ross as the now ex-National MP self destructed. There have been further anonymous leaks of historical information that look suspiciously like a continuation of that attack.

There has also been what looks like a Labour campaign to discredit Bridges and destabilise National heading into the holiday period.

Leaked UMR polling information has progressed from whispers to journalists to drip feeing of poll graphics. I posted on this one yesterday –UMR polling history – which notably was monthly polling with the last result from October, so without the latest poll. One could presume someone is only able to get old data, or the November poll didn’t fit the hit.

There is also a word cloud floating around – Stuff reported on it here How public view Simon Bridges – that was purportedly ‘sent to corporate clients in late November’ and has just popped up. This also indicates it is October data – from the time of the Jami-lee Ross saga, so an out of date targeted hit on Bridges.

Ex Labour staffer Neale Jones, now working for a ‘public affairs company, specialising in Government Relations, Strategic Communications and Campaigns’, keeps tweeting a stream of criticisms of Bridges and National. Whether that is personal or part of Strategic Communications and Campaigns is not clear.

And The Standard has a steady diet of anti-Bridges/National posts. Over the past week:

Mostly this is preaching to the converted, and several authors are involved, but it looks like they have more interested in damaging the Opposition than promoting the Government.

Over the same period there are three posts on Labour/Government bills.

Will all of this have any overall effect? It’s hard to say, but even though there has been a string of media ‘opinions’ from political journalists dumping on Bridges the consensus is that a leadership challenge would be unlikely with National polling higher than Labour (apart from the leaks of cherry picked UMR polls.

In the meantime Jacinda Ardern and Labour keep polling reasonably well – but news of Government progress has not been prominent. Perhaps that’s why there is more focus on attacking National.

UMR polling history

Reasons why it is necessary to be very sceptical of one off ‘leaks’ of internal party polling are that there are no details, no polling method, no margin of error, and no history – one off results give no indication of ongoing accuracy or history.

We can get some idea of UMR polling history now because Bryce Edwards has tweeted

UMR’s most recently-leaked internal poll for the Labour Party has National plummeting to 9 points behind:

The latest result here is a markedly different result to the latest Colmar Brunton poll BUT it was done about a month earlier (the exact polling period isn’t given) so the UMR poll was done in the heat of the Jami-Lee Ross upheaval for National. And it is often claimed that UMR tends to favour Labour over National (unverified).

The previous Colmar Brunton poll was done at a similar time (15-10 October) to the last UMR result here (late October). Comparisons:

  • Labour – UMR 46%, Colmar 45%
  • National – UMR 37%, Colmar 43%
  • Greens – UMR 7%, Colmar 7%
  • NZ First – UMR 7%, Colmar 5%

So Labour is virtually the same, Greens are exactly the same (albeit rounded to a whole number), NZ First are a bit different, and National are quite different – 6%

This could be explained by the timing being slightly different, a week over the Ross story could have had a big temporary impact. Or it could be that either UMR or Colmar (or both) are less accurate with national, or even that one struck an outlier poll (statistically this can happen in 1 out of 20 polls).

Going back to the Colmar July poll (28 Jul-1 Aug) and the UMR polls on either side of that (when the political scene was less volatile):

  • Labour – UMR July 45% August 43%, Colmar 42%
  • National – UMR July 39% August 43%, Colmar 45%
  • Greens – UMR July 7% August 7% , Colmar 6%
  • NZ First – UMR July 6% August 4%, Colmar 5%

Greens and NZ First are very similar.

UMR has Labour higher than Colmar, and has National lower and fluctuating more.

UMR had National 39% in July and 37% in late October, and otherwise in the 41-43% range over the year. Colmar had national in the 43-46% range through the year.

In January Colmar had Labour at 48% and in the 42-45% range.

In January UMR had Labour markedly different at 40% and in the 41-46% range since then.

I think January could be the most unreliable month due to many people being on holiday then.

Polls are of interest to those interested in politics, but are a temporary and inexact measure of party support.

Political polls for 2018

Political polls for the year haven’t shown any drastic changes, with Labour and National swapping the lead a few times after Labour had risen to be competitive late last year after the election.

I presume there will be no more political polls for 2018. Colmar Brunton (for 1 News) are the only ones left doing polls, and they have just published what will be their last one for the year.

Reid Research (Newshub) did just two polls this year, in January and May. Roy Morgan have up given doing New Zealand polls. Their last poll was in November 2017.

Labour looked dire mid 2017 but Jacinda Ardern’s leadership turned things around for them enough for them to  be able to form a government, thanks to NZ First.

NZ First have remained in the MMP danger zone, peaking on the 5% threshold but dropping as low as 2.4% (in May).

After polling mostly in the 10-15% range in the first half of last year Greens dropped drastically after the Turei fallout, and through this year holding their support just over the threshold in the 5-7% range. So their support has halved from the support they got for most of last term.

It seems normal for coalition support parties to struggle to maintain support.

After the latest poll Ardern was criticised for claiming that Labour “finishing the year stronger than we started it”, but she is correct, sort of, by a small margin and she is comparing two different polling companies.

Reid Research did an unusually early poll in the political holiday period 18-28 January, and had Labour on 42.3%. In May they had Labour on 42.6%.

Colmar Brunton’s last poll (24-28 November) had Labour on 43% (rounded so could have been as low as 42.51% or as high as 43.49%). However Colmar’s first poll of the year (10-14 February) had Labour at 48% so Labour have dropped back from that Colmar high.

Ardern also said “polls do move around a bit these are all still within the margin of error” –

We can only see trends from Colmar – here are Labour’s results for the year.

  • 10-14 February 48%
  • 7-11 April 43%
  • 19-23 May 43%
  • 28 Jul – 1 Aug  42%
  • 15-19 October 45%
  • 24-28 November 43%

The 48% for Labour looks to be a polling outlier – it could have been accurate at the time, but Labour settled in and remained in the low forties for the rest of the year. While they will be disappointed to be trailing National this is a fairly solid result for them, considering their pre-Ardern polling had them dropping in the twenties. Colmar had them trending down to 24% in July 2017.

National’s results from Colmar this year:

  • 10-14 February 43%
  • 7-11 April 44%
  • 19-23 May 45%
  • 28 Jul – 1 Aug  45%
  • 15-19 October 43%
  • 24-28 November 46%

They were behind Labour in February and in October (affected by the Jami-Lee Ross mess) but this is remarkably consistent for a party in Opposition, and with new leader Simon Bridges (since 27 February) who is struggling to make a mark.

Looking at the Labour and National polling for the year there is little in it, and little significant change in most polls.

Media have tried to make big stories out of their polls, but the reality is quite mundane.

I think we have a real problem with how polls are reported. Obviously media try to get bang for their bucks – polling can be expensive – but they usually make mountains out of mole polls, often blatantly misrepresenting what individual polls mean.

Media try to make each of their polls look like some sort of mini election, which is nonsense. They can only be approximate indicators of support, and the year after an election most of the people care little about politics most of the time.

If media were doing proper journalism they would report on the political polling without sensation and misrepresentation. And mostly that would be (and should be) quite boring.

How should the media get value for the money spent on polls? Perhaps they should also poll on things of real public interest at the same time, and make their big stories about that.

1 News blew that opportunity in the last poll. They did ask a one-off question – Should Simon Bridges boot Jami-Lee Ross from Parliament using waka jumping law?

The results of that mean nothing (and were inconclusive, with 31% saying they didn’t know). Most people have moved on from one MP self-destructing – actually most people probably took little notice when the media were going hard out with headlines.

1 News would probably like to encourage National to chuck Ross out of the waka (that would be out of parliament, they have already chucked him out of the party) because that could be headlined as a sensational political somersault or something.

Rather than aiming for short term headlines 1 News could do a really public service (they are a public media company after all) doing a series of meaningful polls on issues that really matter to people, but it would take months if not years to get a return on their investment. They seem too obsessed with short term ratings and clicks.

So I expect more of the same form polling next year, another non-election year. It’s a shame we are so poorly served by media who do polling, but I don’t see that changing.

Something worse has become prevalent – online polls run by media. They are cheap, and nasty, very unreliable so they are of no useful purpose.

1 News Colmar poll – November 2018

National have bounced back in the latest Colmar Brunton poll, seemingly having survived the Jami-Lee Ross saga.

  • National 46% (up from 43)
  • Labour 43% (down from 45)
  • Greens 5% (down from 7)
  • NZ First 4% (down from 5)
  • ACT 1% (up from 0)
  • Maori Party 1% (no change)

Refuse to answer 3%, undecided 10%. Fieldwork conducted 24-28 November

So it seems to be settling into a two horse race, with Greens and NZ First in the threshold danger zone.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 39% (down from 42)
  • Simon Bridges 7% (no change)
  • Judith Collins 6% (up from 5)
  • Winston Peters 4%  (no change)

That will get some dumping on bridges and talking up Colins, but with National on 46% it’s unlikely there will be a change of leader in the near future.

I wonder what Simon Lusk thinks of these results. Just last Wednesday he was trying to push a mid-thirties poll result for National – with no evidence provided of course.

Poor poll reporting by Duncan Garner and Newshub

Political polls are often poorly covered by journalists and media. They make far too much of individual results as if it is big news. They try to make their own polls big news – but there are very few polls done now.

So Duncan Garner tried to make something out of very little – and worse, it was with what he was fed from a non-published internal party poll, with no details published and no historical poll context. This wasn’t journalism, it was taking a cheap shot.

Newshub: New polling data shows another fall for National – Garner

There’s more bad news for National with new polling data showing public support continues to fall.

The AM Show host Duncan Garner says he was given access to the Government’s internal polling data this week, which shows Labour at 46 percent and National at 37 percent.

This is a fall of six percent compared to the last 1NEWS Colmar Brunton poll, released two weeks ago, which showed National on 43 percent and Labour on 45 percent.

Presumably this is from Labour and their polling company, UMR. Comparing a single result from Colmar with a single result from UMR is pretty much meaningless from a practical polling point of view, especially when no details of ther UMR poll are made public.

It wouldn’t surprise me if National support has slipped after a torrid couple of weeks, but the biggest point of interest in this will be whether they can recover, and if so by how much. It will take months before we can see that – and then we are likely to get few polls to judge it on. I think it will take another two Colmar polls to get a reasonable idea, and that could take six months.

If accurate, it’s bad news for National leader Simon Bridges, who has said he would bring his party back ahead of Labour within weeks.

So Newshub is not even claiming the result is accurate.

What details did Garner have and give? The poll segment is not even the primary focus of the interview the story came from. It mostly dealt with the Karel Sroubek issue (and Garner was quite critical of Lees-Galloway) – and this issue is unlikely to be reflected even in private polls yet.

The poll came up 6 minutes into an 8 minute interview with Judith Collins and Labour’s Michael Woods. This is the information Garner gave.

Garner: Now I have heard, and I got this information on, um, earlier in the week, the internal polling of the Government has Labour at 46, which is very high, um compared to where you have been in recent years, so well done, and National 37, Judith, your eyebrow goes up…

Collins: Well I (hard to hear) about the Government, I’ve been um on leave most of this week, so no, say the Government doesn’t share it’s polling with me.

Garner: Mmm, well I’m sharing it with you, because they shared it with me. Thirty seven though for National, that’s not good is it?

Collins: Well I don’t know what the polling is…

Garner: I’m telling you what it is…

Collins: …well yeah it’s two years before the next elections though, I know that we’ve had, gone through some pretty difficult times in the last few weeks or months, and um I’m sure that we’re very focused on doing our job, which is better than Iain Lees-Galloway.

Garner: You said, and we’ve dealt with that, that’ll be dealt with over the weekend, you said we’ve been through some difficult times over the last few weeks, and months.

Collins: And months.

Garner: Now the and months bit would indicate you guys, National, knew a lot more for a longer time than we, of course didn’t we…

Collins: No no, I think it if you stretch it out it’s obviously been going on for a little while, and ah we’ve also had leaks going on this year, and now strangely enough the leaks have absolutely stopped, so I think we’ve sorted that one out, so now that’s Winston Peters problem, because he’s taken him in.

There’s a suggestion here that Garner has been sitting on this poll leak since “earlier in the week” – not newsworthy enough to report on until trying to ambush Collins with it. With no details.

Garner has only come up with two poll numbers given to him by someone in Government. No indication of:

  • When the poll was taken
  • Sample size
  • Margin of error
  • Other party results
  • Number undecided
  • Method of polling

All of that can be important in trying to analyse a poll result.

And perhaps more importantly, because internal party polls are only ever leaked when it suits the party leaking numbers, there is no way of knowing what trrends and movements may be happening.

I have seen claims that Labour’s UMR polling tends to favour Labour versus National, but without published historic data there is no way of knowing this.

It makes a big difference as to how much National has dropped. Going from 39 or 40 to 37 is not very significant, margin of error stuff. If they dropped from 45 to 37 it would be more significant – but that still depends on previous polls as well. Have the results been trending down? Have they been volatile through the year.

Without knowing any of the details that are required to come close to properly analysing a poll this news report from Garner and Newshub is poor journalism – actually, it’s not journalism, it’s acting on behalf of one party to try to embarrass another.

It appears to be an attempt to create news out of  far too little information.

This is worse than usual but unfortunately it is a symptom of generally appalling media coverage of polls.

Al it does is feed those either ignorant of polling or intent on uninformed attacks. Like this at The Standard: Latest poll results – National in freefall

More bad news for National.

Their support is in free fall according to the latest UMR poll, the details of which have been leaked to Duncan Garner at the AM show.

Garner made no claim of anything like ‘free-fall’, and the scant details doesn’t support that claim. Presland should know better, he probably does but pushed partisan bullshit.

Comments reveal:

I heard these numbers at conference chatter.

Newshub saying “Garner says he was given access to the Government’s internal polling data this week” implies a new poll, but it seems that Garner was ‘given access to’ poll data this week related to a poll taken prior to this week. It could have been taken when National was getting hammered over the Jami-Lee Ross issue. What happens from now is of more interest than the initial reaction in the past.

Wikipedia also include the Labour/UMR poll in Opinion polling for the next New Zealand general election but qualify it with:

UMR and Curia polls

These polls are typically unpublished and are used internally for Labour (UMR) and National (Curia). Although these polls are sometimes leaked or partially leaked, their details are not publicly available for viewing and scrutinising. Because not all of their polls are made public, it is likely that those which are released are cherry-picked and therefore may not truly indicate ongoing trends.

Curiously the only Curia or UMR poll included is the UMR one currently being circulated (and repeated by Garner) – and the date of 9 November can’t be accurate for, that’s yesterday when Garner mentioned it.

Colmar Brunton poll – October 2018

Colmar Brunton were polling for 1 News as the Jami-Lee Ross mess unfolded last week, so it is  snapshot of support that won’t give anything like a clear indication of ongoing effects on party support.

But it is what it is, at a volatile time.

  • Labour 45% (up from 42%)
  • National 43% (down from 45%)
  • Greens 7% (up from 6%)
  • NZ First 5% ( no change)
  • ACT 0% (down from 1%)
  • Maori Party 1% (no change)

This looks remarkably not bad for National considering the week from hell they have just been through – but it may be too soon to measure the full effect of all of this.

The poll was conducted from Monday to Friday (15-19 October 2018).

The last poll was taken from 28 July to 1 August 2018.

Since the election up until this poll Colmar Brunton had:

  • National 46%, 43%, 44%, 45%, 45%
  • Labour 39%, 48%, 43%, 43%, 42%
  • Greens 7%, 5%, 6%, 5%, 6%
  • NZ First 5%, 2.6%, 5%, 4.2%, 5%

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 42%
  • Simon Bridges 7%
  • Judith Collins 5%
  • Winston Peters 4%

Last poll details and polling history since the election.

1 News Colmar Brunton poll

Polls are relatively rare these days. here’s the latest from Colmar Brunton (1 News):

  • National 45% (no change)
  • Labour 42% (down 1)
  • Greens 6% (up 1)
  • NZ First 5% (up 1)
  • ACT 1% (no change)
  • Maori party 1% (no change)

Refuse too answer 4%, undecided 12%.

So not much movement there. National still maintaining a small lead over Labour, so the Ardern/baby effect and the Bridges effect seem to be making little difference for now.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 40% (down 1)
  • Simon Bridges 10% (down 2)
  • Winston Peters 5% (up 1)

Bridges still failing to impress, that’s no surprise.

No significant lift for NZ First despite Peters getting a lot more exposure.

Field work (polling) 28 July – 1 August.

Cannabis poll: high support for use, not for supply

The NZ Drug Foundation has just released the results of a cannabis poll, carried out from 2 July 2018 until 17 July 2018

Participants stated whether an activity should be illegal, decriminalised, or legal.

Growing and/or using cannabis for medical reasons if you have a terminal illness

  • 10% – illegal
  • 17%  – decriminalised.
  • 72%- legal

Growing and/or using cannabis for any medical reasons such as to alleviate pain

  • 13% – illegal
  • 17%  – decriminalised.
  • 70%- legal

So high support for use of cannabis for medical reasons.

Growing a small amount of cannabis for personal use

  • 38% – illegal
  • 29%  – decriminalised
  • 32%- legal

Possessing a small amount of cannabis for personal use

  • 31% – illegal
  • 32%  – decriminalised
  • 35%- legal

More wanting to keep it illegal for personal (recreational) use but still about two thirds in support for legal change.

Growing a small amount of cannabis for giving or selling to your friends

  • 69% – illegal
  • 18%  – decriminalised
  • 12%- legal

Selling cannabis from a store

  • 60% – illegal
  • 9%  – decriminalised.
  • 29%- legal

Here there is much higher support for staying illegal for ways of getting cannabis apart from growing your own.

Source: NZ Herald Cannabis issues poll

The poll was conducted by Curia Market Research

943 respondents agreed to participate out of a random selection of 15,000 phone numbers nationwide

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