Polarisation versus centrism (or can we have both?)

Is political polarisation increasing? Is ‘centrism’ fading away? Is centrism actually a thing?

From Reddit: With the decline of Centrism in global politics, do you see it happening in NZ?

There has a been a trend in the last 2 decade in global politics, in the US, UK Europe etc, we have seen the rise of centrism in politics, New Democrats with Clinton and Obama and New Labour with Tony Blair in UK. Nowadays politics is much more partisan with Democrats going further left and Labour also going left while at the same time the decline of moderates in US and Liberal Democrats decline.

Is politics becoming much more partisan? Or is partisan politics a minority thing that is getting more attention? Controversial politics makes for more dramatic headlines and is more click baity.

Donald Trump certainly drives division as a tactic, but how non-centrist is he?

While their is division in the UK over the Brexit debacle is that because of the strength of partisan politics? Both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn look like weak leaders. There is as much division within their parties as their is between them.  This is more poor politics and poor politicians on both sides rather than a rise in partisanship.

Could we see the same thing in NZ, where NZF along with United Future, both centrist parties decline, with Labour/Greens and National/ACT moving further apart?

IS NZ First really a ‘centrist’ party?  Aren’t they more populist? Their last election position on Immigration was right wing-ish, but what they have supported on immigration is the opposite of that, but very similar to what National did and what Labour are doing.

NZ First already declined, dropping out of Parliament in 2008, but came back in 2011 and rose to power in 2017. It is too soon to write them off.

It’s hard to know where National will position themselves under Simon Bridges. Some of Bridges’ policy positions, like on drug law reform and abortion, may be right-ish, but they are unpopular.

Jacinda Ardern has talked up being a progressive and transformative government, but has not actually proven that much yet. Economically the government has been cautious, following much the same line of the last National government.

Proteus_Core:

Short answer…yes, I see growing polarization in NZ politics which I believe will only get worse in the future. I also could easily see the proposition you put forward happening and I actually believe its a probability at this stage and certainly at the next election.

Signs of polarization in social media does not mean that the general voting population is polarising. I think that most people are probably more disinterested than supporting strong positions either way.

Waterbogan:

Yes, in fact it is already happening. United Future has already declined into oblivion, and I see NZ First following them in short order as they have lost a bunch of supporters since the election and again more recently. I would say there is room for another party on the centre/right aiming at the market sector NZ First and the Conservatives formerly shared between them.

United Future faded away, but so is ACT, so did Jim Anderton’;s Progressive Party, so has the Mana Party, and the Conservative Party. Green support has over halved. All small parties have struggled to survive, no matter where they are in the political spectrum.

‘spoondooly’:

There will always be room for populism in NZ but the nature of our political system is that it drives centrism to a degree.

The reality is that parties (by and large) need the centre vote as that is largely where the swing vote occurs. It drives moderate politics to a degree and has brought both our centre left and centre right parties together.

Even populist parties such as NZ First have to largely ditch their manifesto when in power as the majority party would be severely damaged by any coalition arrangement if that manifesto was fully recognised.

So there will always be a degree of populism but by and large NZ is centrist and moderate and our politics recognise this.

This probably reflects two things.

Most Kiwis are fairly moderate (as opposed to centrist) in their political preferences. There are a number of bell curves like this:

And MMP tends to moderate more than polarise, with National and Labour fighting over a fairly large swing vote in the centre.

‘bogan_avant_garde’:

Wait until you hear about the policies of Michael Joseph Savage. Labour are struggling to return to the position on the political spectrum they held from 1916-1983.

Ardern has tried to present herself as a great shift leader, but she is yet to deliver.

The idea that neo-liberal market capitalism with low regulation and free movement of capital is centrism is laughable. What you are seeing when you see Labour ‘shifting to the left’ is in fact Labour shifting to the centre and providing an actual centrist alternative to right wing orthodoxy.

The small noisy left are growing in dismay at the lack of action from Labour and even the Greens. The small noisy right are probably always dismayed and always will be.

The extremes are minorities.

Image result for bell curve politics

(That’s from The Political Typologies of American Educators but is indicative of minority extremes).

One of New Zealand’s most polarising politicians has been Winston Peters, but that’s only when in Opposition. He is currently in Government, and is mostly quite non-controversial.

I don’t think we have much of a problem with polarisation here. We have a much bigger problem with political apathy (if that is actually a problem).

(This is not original) I tried to start up an Apathy Party, but no one was interested.

Make or break year for Simon Bridges

It’s difficult taking over leadership of a political party, especially one of the two parties, and especially after previous long term popular leadership.

Labour had a lot of trouble finding a popular leader after Helen Clark left after losing the 2008 election. They went through four struggling leaders before circumstances forced a shock shift to Jacinda Ardern, who benefited from an impressive first impression and a short campaign – and then from the support of Winston Peters.

Bill English was a capable replacement for John Key, but was saddled with the difficulty of holding onto power after three terms in Government, a dearth of parties they could try to form coalitions with, and had to compete with the mass of media coverage that helped the sudden rise of Ardern.

English stepped down and National chose Simon Bridges to lead them and to lead the Opposition, both big challenges.

In his nearly a year as National’s leader Bridges has struggled to impress or appeal. Overall there has been little praise and a lot of criticism, and that that sums up my impression of him. He often doesn’t come across well in media. He has had a bit of barking-at-cars syndrome. And I don’t like some of his policy choices, like on drug law reform, abortion and euthanasia (these should be conscience votes but a leader can influence his party MPs).

The only major plus is that while Bridges has failed to fire in ‘preferred Prime Minister’ polls his party support has mostly held up surprisingly well. This may be despite him rather than due to his leadership.

One of Bridges’ biggest practical problems is it seems that most media have started to write him off, which like it or not can have a significant influence.

He has to start the year (later this month) with, somehow, a new outlook, a new plan, and a better way of delivery his messages. It’s hard for a politician to turn around a negative image, but it can be done, as Helen Clark proved. But that was last century. The media and the social media pundits demand instant success or the knives and pens and keyboards are quickly sharpened.

I’m not ready to write Bridges off yet. He and his advisers must be aware of his problems, and must be trying to work out how to address them and turn things around. So Bridges may take a new approach this year – if he does it will take time to prove whether it might work for him or not.

But if he continues much the same as last year then I think he is not going to cut it, and if he doesn’t step down for the good of the party he may be pushed.

This year is probably make or break for Bridges.

Winston Peters’ claims of migration compact misinformation misinformation

Winston Peters has been accusing others of spreading misinformation about the UN Migration Compact that New Zealand voted in favour of this week, but he has been misinforming a bit himself, by implication at least.

Newstalk ZB (Wednesday) – Winston Peters: Misinformation around the UN migration compact is wrong

Peters says that they sought legal advice as there had been a lot of misinformation spread about the compact.

He says that Crown Law found that the seven major criticisms of the agreement were fundamentally wrong.

Peters says that in their statement to the United Nations tomorrow morning our time, they will be making it clear how New Zealand is interpreting the compact.

National Party Simon Bridges has vowed to pull out of the deal if his party gets into Government.

However, Peters says they initially signed up to the deal back in 2016.

“They won’t [pull out], because they were the ones that started this.”

National didn’t ‘start this’ – they just signed up to an agreement to develop an agreement.

On Friday, Gerry Brownlee said signing up the agreement wasn’t a good move.

He said to “hand over your immigration policy to scrutiny to other UN countries if you don’t do what is required – which is pretty much open borders – I think’s the wrong thing to do.”

The decision to develop a compact was first made by UN Member States, including New Zealand, in September 2016. The process towards it began in April 2017, stewarded by representatives from Mexico and Switzerland.

After months of negotiations, the final draft of the agreement was decided upon in July.

“In the end, New Zealand will be voting for a cooperation framework that was clearly set out at the start of the Compact’s negotiations process in 2016 when the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants was unanimously adopted by all UN member states, including New Zealand under the previous government,” said Mr Peters.

This is misinformation by Peters. The National led Government was a part of the process, but they didn’t decide on the finaal details of the compact.

Newshub on Friday:  New Zealand First slams ’emotional debate’ over UN Migration Compact

In an email on Friday, NZ First responded saying its “political adversaries” will be “telling everybody that they’re going to ‘overturn’ the UN Migration Compact and make various inflammatory claims that the ‘Compact’ is going to permit mass migration into New Zealand”.

The NZ First email, with the subject line “they are not telling the truth”.

But Peters is being somewhat flexible with ‘the truth’.

Committing to develop a Compact is a long way from voting for the final form.

Peters is reported as saying (about national) ‘they initially signed up to the deal back in 2016’. That’s clearly misinformation. It is nonsense to claim New Zealand signed up to a Compact before negotiations had begun.

Is Simeon Brown a Bannonite or just a deceitful right winger?

Who is Simeon Brown? Most people are unlikely to know much if anything about him. He is young for an MP (27) and seems to lean right/conservative.

He won the candidacy for National to contest the Pakuranga electorate last election, which allowed him to romp in to a safe seat vacated by Maurice Williamson. Brown actually increased the MP majority by 2,000 votes, and helped National increase their party vote by about 1,300 votes, giving them 61.69% in the electorate. It must be one of if not the safest electorate.

Like most back bench MPs in a large party Brown has not had much attention. However he was lucky to have a Members’ Bill drawn from the ballot giving him some publicity – it would ensure anyone who supplies illegal synthetic drugs receives a penalty consistent with the penalty prescribed for supplying a Class C Drug.

This is the opposite of most current moves to combat drug problems in dealing with them more as health and addiction issues and providing far better treatment and rehabilitation rather than lock ’em up for longer.

Yesterday after the passing of the Medicinal Cannabis bill in Parliament:

Other reactions:

Yoza: This is how backwards some segments of our society truly are. While sanity is prevailing in other parts of the world, we still have drug war fanatics here pushing a prohibitionist model that has been an utter social disaster for decades.

Mark sanders: So the party would reverse this if given the chance? Cool, add another reason to never vote for you…

Matthew Whitehead: The hilarious hypocrisy of National, a party full of MPs who have big issues with alcohol, moralizing on drugs is astounding. It’s also grossly inaccurate to pretend this is the forthcoming decrimalization decision. This allows prescription by GP, and we don’t see people abusing prescription drugs outside schools or addiction centres. (inside might be another matter ofc). Coincidentally, requiring prescription by GP is a control and a regulation, Simeon.

“Misleading at best and you know it.

“So out of touch fella”

“Perhaps you could try smocking it?’

This follows a recent exchange on Twitter over immigration, with speculation that he may be some sort of a Bannonite (a follower of Breitbart/Steve Bannon).

Peter Dunne: I think you know the answer to your question already Peter!

Peter Aranyi: No, I haven’t worked Simeon out yet. I recognised the ‘socially conservative’ aspect, & we (he & I) had a private conversation about his stance on abortion law reform (he’s agin it) but this migration thing, given the demographics of Pakuranga (even more so Botany) seems oddball.

>> Surely he’s not a Trumpette? Bannonitte?

Peter Dunne: Without the stridency or ideological precision, NZFirst here touches many of the same themes. But it is not as intellectually organised as the Bannonites.

An individual attempt at right wing populism? Whatever, Brown was not very popular on Twitter yesterday:

 

Political year review – the parties 2018

A lot of politics and politicians fly under the media radar. Some MPs make the headlines, because the have prominent jobs, because they seek publicity, or because publicity seeks them, or they cock up. Here’s a few of my thoughts and impressions on the 2018 political year.

Party-wise I don’t think there is much of note.

National and Labour have settled into competing for top party status through the year, with the poll lead fluctuating. It’s far too soon to call how this will impact on the 2020 election, with both parties having problems but still in the running.

Greens and NZ First have also settled in to competing for second level party honours. Nothing drastic has gone wrong for either, but they are both struggling to impress in the polls, and they keep flirting with the threshold. again too soon to call how this will impact on the next election.

ACT is virtually invisible, and unless something drastic changes will remain largely an MP rather than a party.

TOP is trying to reinvent itself without Gareth Morgan leading but Morgan is having trouble letting go of his influence. They have a lot of work to do to build a new profile with whoever they choose as new leader. As with any party without an MP they have an uphill battle with media and with the threshold.

The New Conservative Party is not getting any publicity, apart from their deputy leader posting at Whale Oil, which won’t do much for their credibility. The media seem disinterested, which is the kiss of political death.

No other party looks like making an impression.

With NZ First and Greens expected to struggle to maintain support while in Government (as have support parties in the past), one prospect is that the political landscape and the next election will be a two party race, with Labour and National competing to earn the votes to become a single party Government, which would be a first under MMP.

It’s too soon to call on this. A major factor could be whether voters are happy to see support parties fade away out of contention, or whether enough voters decide small party checks on power are important to maintain.

If the latter this may benefit the Greens IF voters aren’t too worried about a Labour+Green coalition who would have confidence in getting more revolutionary with a second term mandate.

For NZ First much may depend on how let down some of their support feels over a lack of living up to their promises on things like immigration and dumping the Maori seats. A lot may also depend on how Winston Peters weathers another term and whether he stands again.

Winners?

Labour have won back a position as a top dog party after struggling for nearly all of the nine years they were in Opposition.

National continue to win a surprising level of support as long as individual MPs aren’t trying to sabotage the party. The Ross rampage is unlikely to be repeated as other MPs will have seen it as little more than self destructive of an individual’s political future.

So joint winners, sort of but with no prize, and no party deserving of a runner-up place.

Medical cannabis bill passes third reading

The medical cannabis has passed it’s final vote in Parliament today. Minister of Health David Clark called it the most progressive bill ever, which will grate on those who were hopeful the Government would treat medical and general use of cannabis as boldly as a growing number of countries and states around the world. But at least it’s a start.

NZ Herald: Medicinal cannabis bill passes third reading

A bill that gives terminally ill people a legal defence for using illicit cannabis products has passed its third reading in Parliament today.

The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill also gives them a defence to possess utensils for using cannabis.

That defence comes into force as soon as the bill receives royal assent.

Last month, during the bill’s second reading, Health Minister David Clark made changes to the bill that expanded the defence to all people needing palliative relief, rather than just those with a year or less to live, as it previously was.

The changes also created a requirement for regulations for the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme to be in place no later than one year after the law comes into effect, allaying concerns that it could take as long as 2020 before the regulatory framework was in place.

It made clear that cannabis varieties already in New Zealand could be used for medicinal products, prompting at least one therapeutic cannabis company to call for illicit growers to come forward with their unique strains.

Following the bill’s passing, Clark said the statutory defence would be available to around 25,000 people who could benefit from palliative care.

But it wasn’t progressive enough to cover people suffering from chronic pain and debilitating illnesses that are hard to treat with conventional medicines.

Greens are happy they have finally got somewhere on freeing up cannabis laws.

National are acting like numpties. After voting for the bill initially they voted against it today and are grizzling about the bill. They had held up doing anything meaningful about dysfunctional drug laws through their last nine years in Government.

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.

Media intent on popularity politics dump on Bridges

Political journalists are focussing on Simon Bridges – on how well he is doing as Leader of the Opposition, and whether there is someone in the National caucus who could do better. With National polling very well it would be odd for them to dump their leader, but when in Opposition there will always be MPs looking for an opportunity to step up into the top job.

Audrey Young (NZH): Can National’s strong performance survive the strong death-wish for Bridges?

Who wishes political death on Bridges apart from media wanting some headline stories?

…it is extraordinary that a party on 46 per cent in last Sunday’s 1 News Colmar Brunton poll should be ending the year being subject to speculation about who is going to replace the person who got them to 46.

Who is doing the speculating? Journalists. Why?

Under Sunday’s poll result, National was literally one point away from having the numbers to govern. That is a stunning result for an unpopular leader.

But the political death-wish for Bridges is so strong, especially among some media, that one colleague declared that National’s 41 per cent in the party-commissioned poll was the “real” rating, not 46 per cent.

Young admits that it’s ‘some media’ wishing for a political funeral to report on. Perhaps they want someone more celebrity-like to report on.

The notion that a party could be polling high while its leader is polling as low as 7 per cent is unusual, so unusual that there seems to be a move to “correct” it.

If Bridges is finally forced to step down before the 2020 election, it won’t be because of the large gap between the party and leader but because the campaign against him has forced down the party vote.

After a hiatus, the campaign against Bridges has resumed.

It certainly looks like someone or some people are feeding the media morsels to try to dump on Bridges. And journalists like to feast on leaks, especially ones they get ‘exclusively’.

Tracy Watkins (Stuff): National’s dilemma – can someone do better than Bridges?

Is it a dilemma for National? Or do journalists have a dilemma over who to promote as an alternative leader? Do they want someone more colourful (or at least less bland) than Bridges?

I haven’t seen any media consider how someone like Bridges might perform as a potential Prime Minister. Capability for the job seems to be unimportant compared to reporting either scandal or celebrity.

After an extraordinary, and turbulent, few months there are more brutal calculations to be made – such as whether Simon Bridges can carry them back into power. And if the answer is no – which seems to be the growing consensus – can anyone else do better.

Growing consensus amongst whom? Journalists? It shouldn’t be up to them to make decisions on future political prospects and dump on those they judge to be not up to their requirements.

This is what Bridges’ MPs will be weighing up between now and February.

Some opposition MPs will no doubt always be on the lookout for ways of advancing their political careers, and a few will no doubt think they could be doing better than Bridges. That’s normal with politicians with egos and ambition.

Does it matter if Bridges isn’t popular?

Yes of course. Politics is a popularity contest, after all.

I’m alarmed by that. Of course popularity matters, to an extent.

But isn’t politics supposed to be a contest of ideas, a contest of policies that will affect the well being of the nation and of the people?

Isn’t competence important?

Have journalists been caught up too much in conducting popularity contests – where their popularity with politicians in order to be fed stories (that politicians want to promote) is what matters, and where independent analysis and investigation doesn’t matter any more?

The job of Opposition is of course to oppose. But doing so while giving hope that you offer something better? That’s the hard bit.

Key nailed it. Ardern nailed it. Bridges is running out of time to nail it.

That’s nonsense. Bridges has another year at least to ‘nail it’ (as a potential Prime Minister) – except his problem right now seems to be not his lack of nailing it, but rather getting a hammering from media who seem to have dumped on Bridges.

Is the real problem here that Bridges is not popular amongst political journalists? Do they prefer destabilising leaks – they certainly seem to be encouraging them, if not be design by their actions – more than the honest toil of someone trying to lead the Opposition?

When Bridges became leader it was assumed the chances of his making it to the election were slim. It’s the way the cycle works. But those chances are getting slimmer all the time.

That’s alarming crap – alarming because journalists seem to be trying to build a case for slimming Bridges chances nearly two years before the next election.

It’s impossible to predict what will happen in that time. Personally I’m not a fan of Bridges, but I’m less of a fan of journalists trying to influence what may happen in party leadership. I think that’s a far bigger problem than who is leader of a party not in Government.

 

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.