US politics “has reached a dangerous low point”

A Washington Post/University of Maryland poll indicates that confidence in the US about their democracy is dropping, with many thinking politics has reached a dangerous low point.

Do you think problems in America’s politics right now are similar to most periods of partisan disagreement, or do you think problems have reached a dangerous low point?

  • Have reached a dangerous low point 71%
    (Temporary 31%, the ‘new normal’ 39%)
  • Similar to most periods of disagreement 29%


Do you think divisions today are at least as big as during the Vietnam War?

  • At least as big as during the Vietnam War 70%
    (ages 65 and over 77%, 18-29 65%)
  • Smaller 27%
    (ages 65 and over 18%, 18-29 34%)

How proud are you of the way democracy works in America?

  • 1996 (GSS) 16%
  • 2002 (Post) 9%
  • 2004 (GSS) 10%
  • 2014 (GSS) 18%
  • 2017 (Post/U-Md) 36%

How much, if at all, do you blame each of the following for causing dysfunction in the U.S. political system?


Ordered by ‘A lot or some’/’Not at all’

Money is clearly seen as the biggest cause of dysfunction in US politics, but there are other contributing factors.

While Trump is well down that list he is the fourth highest ‘A lot’ at 51%.




Dodgy ‘poll’ in Nelson

The Greens seem to be getting a bit dodgy in their attempt to get electorate votes in Nelson.

Patrick Gower: Desperate Greens drop fake news ‘poll’ in Nelson

The Greens have released the results of some phone canvassing which they’ve referred to as an “internal poll” that claims to show them ahead in Nelson.

But it is not a poll just like there wasn’t a fiscal hole.

It’s a set of numbers Green volunteers have gathered, with no way of checking them and media should be ashamed of reporting them as a “poll”.

It is not scientific, they have not released the raw data or methodology.

The first “question” is particularly dodgy: “Which candidate, between the Greens’ Matt Lawrey & Labour’s Rachel Boyack, do you think will beat Nick Smith?”

Now obviously this does not give voters the option of saying “Nick Smith will win” and is more of a push-poll.

It is actually “fake news” from the Greens.

It is a blatant bid to get publicity and get Labour voters to vote tactically and try and get Lawrey over the line to give them a lifeline in case they don’t make 5 per cent.

This certainly sounds dodgy, but there’s a certain amount of irony here.

Gower accusing someone of using a poll for “a blatant bid to get publicity” is a bit rich.

Poll: ‘The Big Issues’

In their recent poll Newshub/Reid Research respondents “were asked to rank the issues most important to them in this election, from seven major subject areas” – New Zealand’s top election concerns

This is a simplistic result – “the issue ranked most important to voters”:

That is a limited list, and gives no indication how much people are concerned about the issues. For example many people could be nearly as concerned about housing, the environment and money as about health. So this is a fairly rough indication of what people see as the big issues.

Here are party comparisons:


For some reason they did not include a NZ First breakdown.

Who should NZ First go with?

The big question that Winston Peters won’t answer is how NZ First would go into coalition with, if given the opportunity to decide by voters and by National or Labour.

There is a chance they won’t get to decided, if they miss the threshold (they have dropped to 6% in the latest Reid Research poll), or if National or Labour can form majorities without needing NZ First.

Poll swings make it hard to know what the possibilities might be. Yesterday’s Reid Research poll has National very close to forming a government on their own, but the last Colmar Brunton had them short even with NZ First, and Labour could have got there with Greens and perhaps Maori.

Herald-ZB-Kantar TNZ has a poll of what voters generally think.

“If New Zealand First had the power to decide which party should lead the government after the election, on what basis should it decide?”

  • 38% – should go with the party which gives it the most policies, regardless of size
  • 35% – should go with the party with the most seats
  • 27% – not sure

Missing from the options:

  • Winston will please himself who he goes with

That’s the mostly likely outcome (in consultation with the rest of the party of course) so this poll is pretty pointless. Winston has a long history of dismissing polls that don’t suit him.

Newshub/Reid Research poll – huge reversal

The latest Newshub/Reid Research poll results show a huge reversal on the last Colmar Brunton polls.

Newshub: National could govern alone in latest Newshub poll

  • National 47.3% (last RR 43.3, last CB 39)
  • Labour 37.8% (last RR 39.4, last CB 43)
  • NZ First 6.0% (last RR 6.6, last CB 9)
  • Greens 4.9% (last RR 6.1, last CB 5)
  • TOP 1.6% (last RR 1.9, last CB 1.9)
  • Maori Party 1.1% (last RR 1.0, last CB 2.0)
  • ACT 0.6% (last RR 0.6, last CB )


All the pundits will be busy revising all their scenarios.

But Patrick Gower is right about a key thing – party support appears to be volatile. Things could easily change over the next 11 days, although advance voting started yesterday.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 31.7% (last RR 29.9, last CB 35)
  • Bill English  33.1% (last RR 30.1, last CB 31)
  • Winston Peters 6.9% (last RR 6.9, last CB 5)

The poll was conducted 6-11 September and has a margin of error of 3.1%.

The last Reid Research (RR) poll was conducted 22-30 August.
The last Colmar Brunton (CB) poll was conducted 2-6 September.


Chinese voter poll shows similar trends

A poll of 1300 Chinese voters shows strong support for national but also shows similar trends to general polls.

  • National 71.1% (down 2.4)
  • Labour 21.6% (up 5.8)

This is from NZ Herald with a silly headline: Poll: National will be back in Government if Chinese voters had their way

They don’t give any other party results but say that NZ First was down 2.4% and Act was down 2.0%.

The results are based on responses from 1300 Chinese New Zealanders who were eligible to vote in the September 23 election.

The WTV-Trace Research Chinese Poll is backed by local Asian media company World TV, and conducted by Trace Research Ltd, an independent market research consultancy.

Labour MP Raymond Huo has had a griizzle about the polling.

National List MP Jian Yang is believed to be the Chinese MP who would be the one to most effectively serve the Chinese community in the next three years on 44.8 per cent, followed by Labour’s Raymond Huo on 18.8 per cent.

Huo has written to the University of Auckland questioning the vadility of the poll, saying it “may not be robust enough to prevent it from some systemic abuse”.

“It appears to be nothing more than an online opinion survey ‘based primarily on the Chinese social media WeChat’ which is said to have more than 700 million subscribers worldwide,” he said in a letter to Professor Jenny Dixon, the university’s deputy vice-chancellor

Huo said the poll had been taken seriously because of Herald reports and its association with the University of Auckland, where Dr Zhu, is an honorary research fellow.

A university spokeswoman said the poll was carried out by an independent market research company and the university’s involvement was limited to a member of staff who helped proofread the Chinese-to-English translation of the results.

Zhu said Huo could “rest assured” that there were mechanisms in place to exclude those who are not based in New Zealand.

Zhu said it was common for elections to “bring out partisanship”.

Polls also.

Beware the undecideds

Polls show a reducing number of undecided or unknown voting preferences there is still a significant number. I think that there may be quite a number of voters who have indicated a preference may also be susceptible to changing their minds.

Colmar Brunton had 20% ‘Don’t know’ or ;refused’ in July, that had halved last week to 10%.

The Listener had 18% ‘Don’t know’ in May, down to 10% last week.

It’s impossible to know whether undecided voters will vote, or if they do which way they will vote. They could vote in similar proportions to the current decided voters, or they could swing one way.

This has been an eventful campaign, with some major swings in support. there could yet be more changes as voters make up their minds about whether to jump on or stay on the Ardern bandwagon, or revert to the relative known of what English and National offer.

Greens could bounce back a bit, which would be more at Labour’s expense. And Anything could happen with Winston Peters and NZ First support.

Likely vote ranges at this stage:

Labour 40-46% – their momentum seems to have peaked, for now. They could pick up a late swing but a rescue swing for the Greens would work against that.

National 36-46% – they could slide some more as voters give up on the same old who are running a poor campaign aside from steady English, or they could pick up some support if voters decide the alternative looks too risky.

NZ First 6-12% – it’s hard to know with Winston. He looks grumpy and struggling a bit, but he is adept at benefiting from any opportunities that might arise during a campaign. I think that the ‘NZ First always improve late in campaigns’ is dubious historically and means little in a very different campaign this time round.

Greens 4-8% – Greens have had a Turei shock, but seem to have recovered enough as voters realised the risk of them missing the threshold. I would be surprised if the miss 5%, they could get back a bit more support, but are likely to be still well short of their last two election results.

Maori Party 1-3% – a lot is riding on the party vote for the Maori Party, especially for Marama Fox. They have a good chance of repeating their two MP level, especially if support for Labour softens, and have an outside chance of getting a third.

TOP 1-3% – In some ways TOP and especially Gareth Morgan have looked a very good prospect, but Morgan has also been controversial in negative ways so there seems no chance of them getting near the threshold.

ACT Party 0.2-1% – they seem to be making no headway in their aim of getting over 1% and getting a second MP.

No other party looks like getting anything useful out of the party vote.

However there is quite a margin for error in these estimates. It has been a volatile election with significant party and leadership changes, and more voters seem to be ‘floating’, looking for who to vote for. Tactical voting is also a significant factor under MMP.

Swing voters look to the polls to give them some idea of who to vote for. Polls are only an approximate indication, and there is often a reaction to polls by voters, so polls and ‘poll of polls’, being backward looking, can only give a rough idea and can’t be election result predictions.

There are a likely to be a sizeable number of undecided voters that could decide this election. We will know in two weeks what the result is. All we can do before then is guess.

Listener poll – September 2017

The latest Listener has a party poll that has a similar result to the latest Colmar Brunton polls.


That shows a huge jump for Labour but very little movement for National. The percentages are misleading because in contrast to most polls, this includes the ‘Don’t Know’ portion of responses.

Taking ‘don’t know out we get:

  • Labour 41%
  • National 38%
  • NZ First 8%
  • Greens 7%
  • TOP 2%
  • Maori 1%
  • ACT 1%

Those are approximate because the source numbers are rounded, and the minor parties are too small to have any useful level of accuracy.

The poll canvassed 1528 New Zealanders aged 18-plus who are planning to vote in this year’s election and was taken from September 1-5.

This is the final Election Time Barometer of our election-year research. The results are weighted by age, gender and region, and the margin of error at the 95% confidence level is ±2.5%.

An interesting indication of ‘leader most capable of managing the economy’:


Another questionable poll

There are many very questionable polls run online. There is no way of knowing how inaccurate or slanted or rigged they are.

Here is some strong and generally justified criticism of some polling two election campaigns ago.

Colin Craig and his dodgy polling, Ctd

Colin Craig is at it again, using dodgy polling to justify his own agenda.

…That all sounds interesting until, yet again, it turns out that it is not a representative sample and there is a margin of error of 6.9%.

Colin’s strategy is flawed.

Here is another flawed polling strategy.

POLL: Will National get your 2017 Party Vote?

Whaleoil is running a  regular poll to see where those who supported National during the 2014 election are likely to go this year.   We aim to detect any shifts throughout the year leading up to September.

If you did not vote for National in 2014, and you do intend to do so for 2017, then this poll isn’t for you.  We are looking to measure the “restlessness” among 2014 National supporters.

But it is a self selecting poll there is no control over who responds to the poll, so no way of knowing who respondents voted for in 2014.

Normally running political polls on partisan blogs is pointless.

Not just normally.

Asking our audience who they will vote for and assuming that is a fair representation of the nation would be beyond stupid.

But in this case Whaleoil is somewhat representative of the most committed and interested in politics that normally would support the centre right of politics.

There’s no way of knowing that with any accuracy.

As such, measuring a shift in our audience will be significant as an indicator of what National supporters are considering at large.

A rough indicator at best. The poll:


A decent number of responses. The poll results:


Oddly the number of responses has dropped by a about 20%. Results from all polls this year:

Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug A Aug B Sep
Other 5 5 4 5 5 4 3 3 3
WILL vote National again 53 55 48 52 57 55 68 76 78
MIGHT vote National again 23 21 20 17 15 16 13 8 7
WON’T vote National again 19 19 28 26 23 25 16 13 12

This was from a 1900+ voter sample*.  The voters are Whaleoil readers.

It isn’t a sample. “A sample survey is a process for collecting data on a sample of observations which are selected from the population of interest using a probability-based sampledesign. In sample surveys, certain methods are often used to improve the precision and control the costs of survey data collection.”

It is self selecting  survey with no way of knowing anything about the quality of those who responded.

Based on this non-scientific but strongly indicative Whaleoil poll, National will get 39-41% of the party vote in September, depending on the proportion of wasted votes being distributed from parties such as TOP and the Conservatives which will not make it to parliament.

It isn’t strongly indicative, it is roughly indicative at best. There is no indication what the assertion “National will get 39-41% of the party vote in September” is based on.

Even if the survey could have limited respondents to people who voted for National in 2014 this only tries to measure the number of people who intend to vote National again, or who intend to not vote National.

It has deliberately tried to exclude anyone who voted Conservatives, ACT, UF, NZ First, Labour, Greens or the Internet Party last election and who may now be considering switching to National.

It tries to exclude people who could have voted last election but didn’t. It tries to exclude first time voters.

It may (or may not) be a coincidence that for months Cameron Slater has been claiming that National support will drop and they are likely to go as low as the thirties, and that is what this suspect poll analysis somehow arrives at.

The survey and the analysis/assertions should be taken with a big bucket of salt. It could be as shonky as Craig’s self promoting polls last campaign.

Newshub/Reid Research poll

The latest Newshub/Reid Research poll:

  • National 43.3% (-1.1)
  • Labour 39.4% (+6.3)
  • NZ First 6.6% (-2.6)
  • Greens 6.1% (-2.2)
  • TOP 1.9%
  • Maori Party 1.0%
  • ACT Party 0.6%

National are either still ahead or have nudged ahead again, but Labour are close (within margin or error territory).

Greens aren’t down as far as they have been in other polls recently.

NZ First are still slipping, as is Peters.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Bill English 30.1% (+2.4)
  • Jacinda Ardern 29.9% (+3.6)
  • Winston Peters 6.9% (-3.1)

Both English and Ardern have risen a bit since the last Reid research poll, but English has maintained a lead, just.

The poll was conducted from August 22-30, 2017 and has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.