I posted recently on the noise in polls, and why is is important to take a long term view rather than get excited about any individual poll. Cases in point, what are we to make of the two most recent results? One News on the 17th:
National bounces up in poll
National has bounced up five points in the poll to 49%, its highest approval rating in almost a year. …
Labour and the Greens are both down two points to 33% and 11% respectively.
And the Farifax today:
National no longer a sure winner – poll
Today’s poll puts National on 44.9 per cent – 1.3 percentage points down on our last poll in December, and back to where it was last August.
But the big story is Labour’s slow rise under Mr Shearer. The party is up 1.9 percentage points to 36.3 per cent, 3.7 per cent higher than in August.
There is no sensible “political narrative” that makes sense of these results, it’s just noise – the margin of error. I wish the whole “commentariat” would get this message and stop getting so wound up about individual results! In the second piece linked above the authors (Watkins and Vance) do, thankfully, comment on the longer trend:
Labour has now closed the gap with National to just 8.6 percentage points, compared with 20 points on election night in 2011. With Labour allies the Greens making up the shortfall on 10.7 per cent, the poll points to a much tighter race in 2014.
(Those who are hyper-critical of the current Labour leadership please take note!) In a related piece today Watkins does (hurrah!) set out the important facts:
Trend good for Labour but there’s a way to go
In politics, they say, the trend is your friend. That would make the next election Labour’s to lose on today’s Fairfax Media-Ipsos political poll. It confirms a trend of Labour slowly positioning itself to lead the next government.
But that tells only half the story. Because National’s vote, if you use the 2008 election as your yardstick, appears largely undented. …
If there is a story behind the poll numbers it is that many of the undecided vote appear to be soft National voters who have started peeling away, perhaps disillusioned that after four years they are feeling no better off. But when pushed, many still lean toward National. So Labour still has a long way to go.
Come on Labour – give those undecided voters a reason to tick the red box…