Peters complains about polls in warts and all coverage

Winston Peters has been busy touring the country in his bus trying to build back support for NZ First. He is usually good at extracting publicity from media.

As usual he is complaining when the coverage he gets isn’t favourable, and he is complaining about the polls. And he is attacking journalists, clashing a number of times with Katie Bradford from 1 News.

Last time NZ First were in Government, in 2005-2008, they ended up being thrown out of Parliament by voters after failing to make the threshold, getting just 4.07%, and Peters failed to hold his Tauranga electorate.

Polls from a month before the election weren’t far from the mark.

1 News Colmar Brunton: 2.6%, 2.1%, 3.0%, 2.4%
Herald/Digipoll: 2.1%, 3.9%
Roy Morgan: 4.5%, 4.5%
NZ First election result: 4.07%

So overall the polls weren’t too far off, allowing for the margin of error and late shifts in support.

Last election NZ polling a month before the election was actually often better than their election result.

1 News/Colmar Brunton: 10.0%, 9.0%, 8.0%, 6.0%, 4.9%
Newshub/Reid Research: 9.2%, 6.6%, 6.0%, 7.1%
Roy Morgan: 11.5%, 6.0%
NZ First election result: 7.2%

This election (up to a month before election day):

1 News Colmar Brunton: 1.8%, 2%, 2%
Newshub/Reid Research: 2.0%
Roy Morgan: 1.5%, 2.5%

So while polls are just a rough indication of voter support for parties at the time they are taken, it’s fairly obvious that NZ First have hit a rough patch.

And Peters is getting grumpy.

1 News: ‘Boring, laughable, ridiculous’ – Winston Peters goes on attack after another poll puts NZ First out of Parliament

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has once again gone on the offensive when quizzed about his party’s consistently low polling in the lead up to next month’s election.

“Geez, Kate, could you get off your boring narrative about the polls, so to speak?” an exasperated Peters said to 1 NEWS reporter Katie Bradford during a media conference in Kerikeri today. 

“I hope on election night that you’re going to fly a white flag and resign because of countless questions you’ve asked on this silly question.”

He said he knew the National and Labour parties “seriously believe that New Zealand First is going to make it,” asking, “What do they know that you don’t know?”

Of course Peters could be just making that claim up. National and Labour won’t be counting NZ First out, but I doubt they “seriously believe that New Zealand First is going to make it”.

National’s Curia polling had NZ First on 3% at the end of July, and UMR who poll for Labour had NZ First on 3.9% at the end of August.

Leading into the 2017 election UMR had NZ First on 8% (1–8 Aug 2017) and 9% (11–16 Aug 2017), and Curia had them on 6% 20 Sep 2017 with NZ First getting 7.2%.

“You can’t write us off when there’s thousands and tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of forgotten New Zealanders whose only hope is New Zealand First,” Peters said.

He said he “didn’t bother to see” last night’s poll.

While New Zealand First has ranked poorly in political polls in the past, Peters has long been an opponent of what he called “rubbish.”

“I don’t like rubbish. I don’t like rubbish and I don’t like rubbish pollsters,” he said.

“Katie, with the greatest respect, you owe New Zealand First better coverage than this.

“To come along every day and talk about your boring polls is actually risable, it’s laughable, it’s ridiculous and it’s contemptuous of a fair coverage of a political party this campaign.”

Peters said people “deserve better coverage on your national TV than the bias” of 1 NEWS.

This is just Winston-speak for him wanting favourable coverage and no unfavourable coverage.

Peters expressed concern over a Labour-Greens government, saying they “don’t have the experience.”

They have just spent the last three years in Government (with NZ First), so that’s experience.

The popularity of Jacinda Ardern, who is not much more than half Winston’s age (she was born after Peters first became an MP in the Muldoon era), suggests that a lot of voters have moved on from old school politics.

He was also against a National-ACT government, telling Bradford to “do the mathematics.”

“You’re the one that’s always banging on about the polls. Do the mathematics, Katie, and be consistent for five seconds.

“You know that they’re 40 per cent shy of even making it, and if you’re going to bang on about the polls, try and be consistent about it, but I don’t believe in those sorts of polls because New Zealand First, our voter base, has never been fairly represented by them.”

Typical Peters, asking a journalist to be consistent while demonstrating his inconsistency.

Actually it appears that 1 News have been providing a range of good and not so good coverage of Peters campaigning. Over the last week:

That seems like a reasonable range of coverage.

Peters attacking journalists is normal for him. I think it is his way of trying to bully or coerce them into giving him better coverage.

But he has a real problem competing with Ardern’s niceness approach to politics.

And he is also competing for support with a resurgent ACT Party, and also with other parties seeking niche votes like New Conservatives and Advance NZ.

Peters has promoted NZ First as the anti-government party with some success in the past, but that’s difficult for him this time having just enabled the Labour led Government for three years.

He may still find some issue with which he can strike a chord with voters, but with Covid and Ardern dominating he is running out of time.

NZ First may hang on, but if they do they will likely be a lot weaker next term. Labour probably won’t even need them to form a Government.

Kudos to Katie Bradford. She has been in close contact with Peters on the campaign trail and she has the gumption to ask him difficult questions, and to report on Winston warts and all.

Looking back at Northcote party polling

Claims were made by Labour, and National in response, about ‘party polling’ leading into the voting period for the Northcote by-election.

NZH: Simon Wilson’s Northcote Notebook: Labour closes gap in Northcote byelection

Labour Party polling for the Northcote byelection puts candidate Shanan Halbert just 2.1% behind National’s Dan Bidois. Sources close to the party confirmed that, in a poll conducted last week, Halbert was preferred by 46.3 per cent of those asked, and Bidois by 48.4 per cent.

That’s a change from a poll conducted by Labour in early May, which had Bidois leading Halbert by a more comfortable margin, 50.8 per cent vs 44.4 per cent.

National Party sources dispute these numbers. They say their polling shows a gap of about 8 per cent.

In the days before election day Labour candidate Shanan Halbert and leader Jacinda Ardern both said the election would go ‘down to the wire’. as did a party press release: It’s down to the wire in Northcote by-election

Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern and Northcote Labour candidate Shanan Halbert campaigned together today in Northcote, emphasising how important it was that people get out and vote for a strong local voice before 7 pm Saturday.

Shanan said “It was a pleasure hosting Jacinda in the Northcote shops today. We spent time encouraging locals to ensure their voice is heard by joining the thousands of others who have already voted in the by-election.”

“We know from the polling that this race is down to the wire. If everyone who voted for me in the 2017 General Election votes for me again in this by-election, Northcote will have a strong local voice in Government come June 10th.”

if everyone who voted for the National candidate in the general election voted National again Halbert wouldn’t have a chance.

It’s normal for parties to talk up their chances going in to an election, but quoting party polls without giving any details should be viewed with scepticism.

Halbert was running against a nine year MP and Cabinet Minister in the general election, while he was up against a virtual unknown from out of the electorate in the by-election.

Election night results for the National and Labour candidates in the Northcote by-election:

  • Dan Bidois (National) 10,147 – 50.98% (general election 52.27%)
  • Shanan Halbert (Labour) 8,785 – 44.14% (general election 35.25%)

Election night majority 1,362 – difference 6.84%.

So that is nowhere near the 2% claimed by Labour. It is quite close to what National claimed.

There could be a number of explanations, like – Labour support faded late in the campaign. or more Labour supporters didn’t get out and vote.

It could also be that Labour bullshitted about their polling to try to talk up a close contest.

Or Labour’s polling is crap.

For all we know Labour’s poll asked something like “Will you vote for the local candidate SHANAN HALBERT, or the unknown out of electorate candidate with a foreign sounding name?”

Or the polling was done by Labour’s door knockers.

Whatever the reason it emphasises that caution should be taken about any polls – they are an approximate measure in the past, not a prediction of the future despite what media try to say.

And one-off party polling claimed during an election campaign, with no details given and no history of polls showing trends, should not be promoted by media as news, and should not be taken to seriously.

 

The Spinoff and SSI polling

Depleted New Zealand polls have been bolstered with The Spinoff and Jennings Murphy using Survey Sampling (SSI).

The Spinoff has provided a useful addition to media coverage in New Zealand for the last couple of years or so.

A New Zealand site covering pop culture, sport, politics and social life through features, criticism, interviews, videos and podcasts.

About: The Spinoff is an online magazine and custom content creator. We employ some of New Zealand’s best non-fiction writers to create smart, shareable content.

@TheSpinoffTV

The mid-shelf red wine of NZ journalism

Facebook:

A New Zealand site covering television, sports, books, politics, media and more. Features, criticism, rankings, podcasts and video from writers like Steve Braunias, Alex Casey, Toby Manhire and Scotty Stevenson. Edited by Duncan Greive.
Brought to you by Lightbox, Bigpipe, MBM and Unity Books.

More media is better, and The Spinoff do some good content, including some investigative journalism.

They have also started doing polling (in association with Jennings Murphy) using SSI (Survey Sampling International).

SSI is the premier global provider of data solutions and technology for consumer and business-to-business survey research, reaching respondents in 100+ countries offering the widest, most diverse access to audiences around the globe through its own panels, social media, online communities and affiliate partners. SSI has 40 offices in 20 countries and serves more than 3,000 clients worldwide.

It is good that someone else is commissioning polls in New Zealand, there were not many left doing them.

Time will tell how accurate SSI turns out to be. They do all there polling online, not like traditional polling by phone like Colmar Brunton, Reid Research and Roy Morgan.

We already have one fairly close comparison with UMR, who also do online polling.

SSI: “Do you think we have a housing crisis in Auckland?”

  • Yes 84%
  • No 10.3%
  • Don’t know 5.7%

Survey Sampling International (SSI) conducted an online survey among a representative sample of 760 Auckland residents aged 18 and over with quota applied to gender, age and region within Auckland. All respondents were screened to ensure they were New Zealand residents and eligible to vote. The polling period was 17-19 August and the margin of error is +/- 3.6%.

UMR:

  • Yes 81%
  • No 14%
  • Unsure 5%

The poll of 1,000 New Zealanders over the age of 18 was taken from July 29 to August 17 through UMR’s online omnibus survey. There were 633 home owners and 331 Aucklanders who took the poll.

The results are very similar, within margins of error, so they compare well.

Both online polls but while the polling periods overlapped they varied markedly in polling time, 3 days (SSI) compared to 3 weeks (UMR).

However ‘housing crisis’ is a simplistic media driven question that doesn’t really mean much apart from giving the Opposition ammunition to say ‘told you so’ and the Government will keep responding ‘we’re doing everything we can’.

It will be interesting to see if The Spinoff also did party polling, and if so how that stacks up.

 

 

Polling and better democracy

The previous post on the future of Political polling in New Zealand  raises an issue about the use of private polling by the major parties and how that influences what they do.

There are two other polling companies I’m aware of, Curia and UMR. The problem with them is they do ‘internal polling’ for National and Labour respectively so their polls aren’t made public.

This is modern democracy in action but it isn’t good for the people. The major parties are said to be guided significantly by polls, but the public is kept in the dark.

I think that one of the ways we could improve the democratic process in New Zealand would be to have public polling done on issues of interest, especially on contentious bills in Parliament.

If these were done during the committee stage and both Parliament and the public were informed of approximate public opinion then the parties and MPs could make their decisions knowing what we the people thought.

Submissions are an important part of the democratic process but despite the attempts by some parties and pressure groups to try and depict them as a measure of public opinion they are not, the numbers of submissions are far too easily stacked and often are.

Referendums are an essential component of a democracy but because of their cost and the time and logistics involved are only useful for important issues like constitutional matters and things like flag and anthem changes.

The major parties base many of their decisions in part at least on polling.

The public should know what opinions our MPs support, and which opinions they ignore or choose to override.

In our form of representative democracy we rely on our political parties (which usually block vote) and our MPs to make responsible legislative decisions on our behalf.

But it is just as important that the public is listened to – and is seen to be listened to.

I think that one of the most effective ways to do this is via public polling on issues and on legislation of public interest.

Ideally this should be funded by the State but done independently of the parties and MPs.

It’s unlikely the major parties would readily agree to funding this as they tend to see knowledge as power, and they seem to think they have more power when they keep knowledge secret from the people.

So this would probably have to begin as a People’s initiative.

Are there enough interested people who are not associated with parties to get this off the ground?

Some parties may agree that it would enhance our democracy and may recognise it could reverse the sliding engagement in politics – if people feel their opinions matter in decision making processes they are more likely to feel engaged and get more engaged.

But the best way to enhance democracy for the people is to have enough people demanding better.

Politicians try too much to operate in secret, and they too easily get isolated from public opinion outside their bubbles.

It is up to the people to fight for better for themselves. For ourselves.

I think that establishing our own polling and injecting our opinions into the parliamentary process would make a real difference.

Poll pall for Labour after Jones exit

Labour have had a bad week, and it could get worse unless they make major improvements.

John Armstrong at NZH has bad news in Labour’s brutal week reveals Achilles heel:

Senior Labour figures are bracing themselves for an expected hit in the opinion polls, but are confident it will be shortlived.

Before this week’s disasters, Labour’s own pollsters were said to have been registering the party’s vote at around 30 per cent. That is very close to the 29.5 per cent recorded in the most recent Herald-DigiPoll survey.

However, usually reliable sources say National’s private polling over the past week points to the real scale of Labour’s horror story with support crumbling to a mindblowing low of just 23 per cent.

Even thirty is not flash, and not enough. If Labour take a hit in the next poll or two – and Roy Morgan will have been polling right through this week – it could be shortlived, but that will take a lot of work and a significant improvement from Cunliffe, his PR team and the Labour caucus.

Shane Jones will be out of the picture by the election. An inability to manage things well will be the big picture unless it is rectified.

Labour from top to bottom need to stop denying their faults, they need to stop lashing out and blaming others. They need to own the problem and address it positively. It will take time, effort and a bit of luck, but somehow they have to stem the haemorrhaging.