Cannabis legalisation polls and trends

Two recent polls suggested majorities opposing cannabis legislation, but one poll has a more supporting change, especially “When New Zealanders Have More Information”.

And data from Canada where cannabis is already legal suggests fewer young people are now using cannabis.

1 News (14 February): New Zealanders likely to vote against cannabis legalisation – 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll

Those polled were asked, ‘At this stage, do you think you will vote for cannabis to be legalised, or for cannabis to remain illegal?’

Remain illegal – 51%
Legalise cannabis – 39%
Will not vote – 1%
Don’t know / refused – 9%

The groups of people who were more likely than average to intend to vote against legalising cannabis were Asian New Zealanders, National Party supports and people aged 55 and over.

Those who were more likely to intend to vote for legalisation were Green Party supporters, women aged 18 to 34, Māori, people with annual household incomes between $30,001 to $70,000 and Labour Party supporters.

Between February 8 to 12, 1004 eligible voters were polled by landline (402) and mobile phone (602). The maximum sampling error is approximately ±3.1%-points at the 95% confidence level.

November/December 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll saw 49 per cent against legalisation and 43 per cent for, with the June 2019 poll seeing 52 per cent of people against and 39 per cent for legalisation.

In the October 2018 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll, the results were slightly more in favour of legalisation than against, with nearly half wanting the drug to be legal. Forty-six per cent of Kiwis were in favour of legalisation and 41 per cent were against.

In the July 2017 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll, 47 per cent were in favour of cannabis legalisation and 41 per cent were opposed.

Newshub (18 February): New poll shows support for both recreational cannabis and euthanasia dropping

The latest Newshub Reid-Research poll asked the referendum question the public will be asked in the referendum this election: do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?

  • 39.4 percent said ‘yes’
  • 47.7 percent said ‘no ‘
  • 11.6 percent said ‘don’t know’

The Bill would make recreational cannabis legal for over 20s, with restrictions.

Since the last time Newshub polled on this in June, despite additional details released in December, more people have moved from the ‘yes’ camp to the ‘don’t knows’.

Very few voters will know what Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill actually proposes.

(Note that the euthanasia part of the headline is a bit misleading, the result was 61.9% in favour, 23.7% against).

NZ Drug Foundation (21 February): Poll Shows Support For Cannabis Legalisation When New Zealanders Have More Information

Survey results released today by the Helen Clark Foundation and the New Zealand Drug Foundation show that support for cannabis legalisation grows when people know more about the proposed legislation.

When respondents were asked how they would vote in September’s referendum based on what they already know:

  • 46% said they would vote for the legalisation of cannabis
  • 44% said they would vote against it
  • 10% undecided

When people were then told more about the limits and restrictions on cannabis use and sale in the proposed legislation:

  • support for legalisation increased to 50%
  • opposition decreased to 42%
  • 8% undecided

Fieldwork for the survey was conducted between 22 January and 3 February 2020. The maximum sampling error for a sample size of 1000 at the 95% confidence level is ± 3.1%.

That looks promising for those wanting change, but there is likely to be a battle of information and misinformation.

“These results suggest New Zealanders are likely to support a sensible approach to cannabis harm reduction when they have accurate information about what is being proposed,” said Holly Walker, Deputy Director of the Helen Clark Foundation.

“The details matter. Armed with the facts, voters see that putting in place rules and enforcing these is better than the status quo.”

New Zealand Drug Foundation saw similar results in research commissioned in November last year. “When initially asked how they would vote, participants were evenly split, with around 14 percent undecided. Once the participants were given more information on the legislation, we saw stronger support for a yes vote,” said Ross Bell, Executive Director, NZ Drug Foundation.

Over the last two months the proportion of undecided voters has dropped, following the release of the draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill in December.

The draft legislation includes an age limit of 20, redistribution of tax into harm reduction, health and education programmes, a ban on all marketing and advertising of cannabis products, strict controls on the potency of cannabis, and other restrictions.

“When people learn about these proposed restrictions, they are more likely to support a law change,” said Ms Walker.

NZ Herald: Legalising cannabis: Supporters, opponents take swipes at each other as polls show knife-edge decision

The foundation said it showed more support for legalisation when voters were more informed, but Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said it was loaded to ask the same question either side of highlighting the proposed legal framework.

McCoskrie attributed the decline of the ‘yes’ vote to the strength of the ‘no’ campaign so far, including a 24-page pamphlet that had been delivered nationwide.

But Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said the downward trend in ‘yes’ support was because of “well-funded and relentless opposition scaremongering”.

He has asked supporters to donate funds to the ‘yes’ campaign, which was putting together a strategy that included billboards, TV advertising and social media.

McCoskrie responded by saying he was giving the public the “facts”, adding that he had little faith in the Prime Minister’s expert advisory panel, headed by her Chief Science Advisor Professor Juliet Gerrard.

The panel is putting together publicly-available information about the impacts of cannabis use, what changes have occurred overseas, and how applicable that might be in New Zealand.

So McCoskrie doesn’t like people being informed when being polled, but is keen to ‘inform’ people against the legislation.

Meanwhile (NZH):

New data from the Youth Insights Survey, published yesterday in the New Zealand Medical Journal, found that between 2012 and 2018, the proportion of Year 10 students who had tried the drug fell by more than a quarter.

“This was predicted, since cannabis trends in this age group are strongly associated with tobacco trends, and it was already known that smoking in Year 10 students had continued to decline since 2012,” said the study’s Otago University authors.

However, the authors note that other research shows cannabis use is increasing among New Zealand adults generally.

Past year use increased from 9 per cent in 2012/13 to 15 per cent in 2018/19 overall – and from 19 per cent to 29 per cent among 15 to 24 year olds, the age group with the highest cannabis usage.

The authors said there were likely two key reasons for the conflicting trends.

“Firstly, the average age at which young people are initiating risk behaviours, including cannabis use, has increased in recent years,” they wrote.

“Secondly, normalisation of cannabis use has been counteracted by decreasing prevalence and frequency of smoking and drinking in this age group.

“The evidence suggests that adolescents’ willingness to try cannabis has increased, but their opportunities for doing so have decreased due to less face to face time with friends and fewer drinking and smoking occasions.”

But statistics from Canada shows the opposite has happened there, with youth use of cannabis dropping significantly since legalisation and regulation.

And:

 

UMR and other polls – Labour and National even

Note – at best polls are just an approximate indicator of a snapshot of political support, especially individual polls.

Here is some anecdotal and it appears actual poll information.

Matthew Hooton in Capital Gains Tax debate shows Jacinda Ardern’s weakness

National insiders say their polling has NZ First consistently below the 5 per cent threshold, the Greens dicing with death by bouncing around it, and Labour and National locked in a tight battle, both above 40 per cent and within the margin of error of each other.

Care has to be taken with ‘insiders say’ anecdotes, but this is much the same as the last two published polls:

  • Reid Research 24 January-2 February: Labour 47.5%, National 41.6%, Greens 5.1%, NZ First 2.9%
  • Colmar Brunton 9-13 February: Labour 45%, National 42%, Greens 6%, NZ First 3%

The Reid Research poll was very early in the year, before politics cranked up, so favouring Labour is not surprising.

James Last yesterday on Twitter – The latest UMR poll for its corporate clients:

  • National up 5 to 45%
  • Labour down 1 to 44%
  • Greens down 2 to 5%
  • NZ First no change on 4%

While unpublished and verified this looks quite believable, with National back virtually level pegging with Labour.

National haven’t been particularly impressive but Labour have handled the Tax Working Group and CGT poorly so may have eased a bit because of that – but it could be too son to take much from it. If we get polls in the next month they may add too the picture, unless other major issues or events take over influence.

What this means is that hal way through the term (18 months before the next election) there is little in it between Labour and National. I think we can expect ebbs and flows in their support somewhere in the forties depending on timing of polls and margins of error.

Perhaps of more significance is NZ First remaining stuck under the threshold. When NZ First was last in government from 2005-2008 they polled mostly under the threshold and ended up getting 4.07 in the 2008 election, getting them dumped from Parliament.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_2008_New_Zealand_general_election

Greens look a bit safer staying just above the threshold, but are still at risk. They will be keen to be seen to be achieving significant gains on climate, environmental and social issues. They have time for that, but need to start delivering.

 

 

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.

National leadership poll (sort of interesting but out of date)

A public poll on the National leadership is of limited value, because the leader is chosen by National’s 56 MPs only, and the poll was conducted before the leadership contest began. But it is a bit interesting, especially National supporter results.

The Spinoff Exclusive: Poll gives Judith Collins slim lead as preferred National leader

A UMR Research survey puts the polarising MP in the lead – but only slightly, and her favourability numbers are dismal, an area in which Amy Adams holds bragging rights.

The tussle to lead the biggest party in New Zealand’s parliament will be a tight one, if polling conducted largely prior to Bill English’s resignation and exclusively revealed to the Spinoff is a guide. Of the declared candidates, Judith Collins can boast the greatest support as preferred National Party leader, both among National voters and the wider public, though her lead over Steven Joyce is statistically negligible.

Not surprising to see so many ‘unsure’. The poll is split over eight MPs with a third ‘unsure’.

Notable that Mark Mitchell doesn’t feature, but that’s not surprising because the poll was almost entirely before Bill English announced he was stepping down, so before any candidates put their names forward.

Favourability ratings are also pertinent:

Collins is slightly behind Adams on favourability, but has twice the unfavourability with about half respondents seeing her unfavourably.

UMR Research, whose clients include the Labour Party, returned the results from its nationwide online omnibus survey, conducted between January 30 and February 14 (Bill English resigned on February 13). A nationally representative sample of 1,000 New Zealanders 18 years of age and over are surveyed. The margin of error for sample size of 750 for a 50% figure at the 95% confidence level is ± 3.1%.

The margin of error for National supporters will be much higher.

UMR – the poll Labour reveals sometimes

Labour have chosen to only reveal their internal polling (done by UMR) sometimes, and with a lack of details, so it is not possible to compare it against other polls properly, and it is difficult to see trends clearly.

They have given some journalists a glimpse of their latest UMR poll. It is indicative of a closing of support between National and Labour, but needs to be viewed with some reservations.

According to NZH:  Labour’s polling closes gap on National

The Labour Party will hold its campaign launch today with its own poll putting it just three points adrift of National – and bringing heartening news for Labour’s potential support partner the Greens.

The Herald has seen the latest poll results from UMR for a poll which ended on August 17.

That had National down three points from the week before to just 40 per cent.

Labour was up one point since the week before to 37 per cent – the same level of support it had in the One News Colmar Brunton poll released this week.

Summary of the results per NZH:

  • National 40% (down from 43)
  • Labour 37% (up from 36)
  • Greens 8% (no change)
  • NZ First 9% (up from 8)

The poll shows less movement among the smaller parties than the Colmar Brunton.

But no details given.

…the UMR poll traditionally has National at a lower level than most public polls.

The UMR poll canvasses 750 voters and has a margin of error of +/- 3.6 per cent.

This UMR poll is one snapshot in a quickly changing political environment.

Labour has obvious cause for renewed optimism, and National should be more concerned than they were last month.

Going by these numbers National would probably be able to form a government with NZ First but Labour would be unlikely too.

Poll rumour worse for Greens

Steven Mills has just been talking about polls on RNZ (he’s from UMR).

He said their are rumours around that National’s tracking poll has Greens down to 4.8%.

He said that that is believable as the UMR poll with them down 7 to 8% was taken before Graham and Clendon resigned, and before Turei stepped down.

He thinks Greens should get back into Parliament, but they may be substantially smaller than they are now.

And following that James Shaw is being interviewed.

He says that it will be tough for either David Clendon or Kennedy Graham to return to the Green list now Turei has stepped down.

He said that Clendon has indicated he isn’t interested, but Graham is having discussions with the party.

Shaw says he feels he did the right thing in fully supporting Turei, and said she also had the full support of the Green caucus, but that is obviously inaccurate given that Clendon and Graham resigned in protest.

He is blaming the media for putting pressure on Turei and forcing her to step down.

Shaw says he will remain sole leader until the election and beyond, and unless something else intervenes the co-leadership won’t be addressed until the next party AGM next July. That would be extraordinary.

UMR poll

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

Apparently:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Challenges for National

Despite the crisis faced by Labour, National still have challenges of their own heading into the election campaign.

Few expect them to do as well as last election when they just got a slim majority with 47.04%, trimmed to a whisker when they lost the Northland by-election.

Three recent polls:

  • UMR (Labour’s internal poll): 42%
  • Colmar Brunton: 47%
  • Newshub/Reid Research: 45.1%

I think the UMR poll is a bit older and tends to favour Labour rather than National, but these polls suggest that National have a challenge avoiding having to negotiate with Winston Peters based on all of these results.

BUT anything could happen now as a result of Labour’s torpidity followed by turmoil.

This could throw everything wide open if voters desert Labour and switch to the Greens or NZ First. Or voters may prefer the safety of an uninspiring but well known National plus a few small support parties again.

National still have the advantage of having a good relationship with several small parties still, while the Labour-Green Memorandum of Understanding was effectively thrown out the window by Metiria Turei and now Andrew Little seems to have smashed any window of opportunity for Labour.

So National has been helped by the turmoil on the left, but they have to do more to help themselves. Arrogance and complacency are probably their biggest challenges to overcome, but they could do with a much stronger approach from Bill English as well.

If they cruise then NZ First and the Greens make pick up the bulk of the votes thrown up in the air by Labour.

NZ First accused of leaking UMR poll

Winston Peters has generally trashed polls as fake and meaningless, but it looks like when they suit his purposes he isn’t averse to leaking them.

Two months ago from RNZ:  Peters calls polls fake, claims he’ll win 20% of vote

RNZ’s most recent poll-of-polls had New Zealand First sitting at 8.7 percent.

But Mr Peters said the media’s polls were fake – and his own polling put his party’s support far higher – closer to 20 percent.

“I’ve got the statistical evidence to prove it, I don’t know why the media carry on with their mindset and keep on boring people witless with scenarios that are not going to happen.”

I don’t think he produced any evidence, which isn’t unusual for him.

A week ago on RNZ:  Winston Peters says polls giving him 10% are fake

New Zealand First leader says media polls giving him 10 percent are fake and he’s going to get 20% in the election.

A Colmar Brunton poll had just been published with NZ First on 11%, up 2.

Then last Friday from Newshub:  Labour’s confidential polling leaked:

Newshub has been leaked poll results from the company that does Labour’s internal polling which show it is in big trouble, two-and-a-half months out from the election.

The results show Labour is on 26 percent support – crashing from 34 percent in May.

And New Zealand First, for the first time in three years of polling, is no longer the lowest rating party.

Winston Peters and co are on 14 percent – up 5 percent since May – just overtaking the Greens who are on 13 percent.

Peters didn’t slam this poll as fake.

The company, UMR, does the polling for Labour’s inner sanctum and the results are normally kept secret from the public.

Earlier in the year Little went public with a UMR poll that wasn’t as bad as usual for Labour.

Tonight the Labour Party and UMR said the results had not yet been released to the Labour Party and the leak must have come from a corporate client who had already been provided the results.

Today: Andrew Little accuses Winston Peters of leaking poll that made Labour look bad

Andrew Little is accusing Winston Peters of leaking poll results that are damaging to the Labour Party.

“Whenever you see something that’s reported as a leak, you look at who talks about it the most,” he told Newshub.

“I’m pretty sure NZ First has UMR as a pollster, so I think the leak – in inverted commas – is more likely from New Zealand First than anybody.”

This seems to have been confirmed by Duncan Garner.

Peters didn’t deny it, he avoided ‘reacting’.

“I’ve got no reaction to that. I couldn’t give a rat’s derriere what he says,” the NZ First leader told The AM Show on Monday. He wouldn’t reveal if NZ First used UMR for its polling.

“We don’t divulge who we talk to on the issue of polling… That’s not information you’re privy to… It’s none of your business.”

Mr Peters has been talking up the poll regardless, suggesting he’ll soon have the right to call himself leader of the Opposition.

“If [Labour] go from 26 down to 22, that’s it. Andrew is not in Parliament,” Mr Peters told The Nation on Saturday. “So why would you make these statements, that he’s the next leader of the country? Or the leader of the Opposition?”

It’s not unusual for politicians to trash polls and news they don’t like and then hypocritically promote what suits their purposes.

But UMR is just one poll, a Roy Morgan poll also published last week had NZ First on 8%. Peters would probably call that fake.

Peters has usually been staunch in not predicting election outcomes. On the Nation on Saturday:

Look, you know, one thing is very important in life, and that’s this – don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

But in another break from Peters tradition, in his speech to the NZ First congress on Sunday he closed with:

“So spread the word. This time, in our 24th year, we are going to transform the electoral system and we will be most definitely the Government.”

However he hasn’t produced a poll that backs that up yet.