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.