So, recent polls have shown a minor upward blip for Labour. A minor downward blip for National. Ergo, David Shearer must immediately appear on TV to extrapolate why and make big sexy claims about how The Gap Is Narrowing and We Will Clearly Return To The Treasury Benches In
Any time in the next month or so, another poll will appear showing a minor blip upward for National, and a minor blip downward for Labour, and then it’ll be John Key’s turn to brag about how The Public Clearly Supports Our Direction and Labour Has No Vision For Noo Zilnd.
And so it will continue. Even the people who openly state that they know better – e.g. some of my fellow bloggers and commenters on The Standard – will still try to make something of the trend, or the historical poll biases in play, or calculate which political headline hit at the plum point of the polling period and thus explains the result.
The only poll that matters is election day. And any politician – but especially one whose party is still sucking bigtime compared to the glory days of not that long ago - needs to say only one thing when a “favourable” poll result comes through: the only poll that matters is election day. If you must, throw in a key message about The Voters Will Decide or something.
Because as soon as you buy into the idea that that one favourable poll means something, you’ve bought into the idea that the next unfavourable poll means something. As soon as you say look an upward trend you’ve handed your opponent the right to retort nope, it’s a downward trend as soon as they can scrape two data points together.
Sure, keep doing your internal polling, if you really want to run a political party on the basis of amoral populism instead of having principles and putting your case to the people of New Zealand and trusting in that democracy thing we have to accept or reject your arguments. If you must.
But please, pollies. (Especially David Shearer.) Stop dignifying bullshit landline polls like they mean anything, especially this far out from an election. Or, if you must, stop complaining later on that the media are only interested in shallow numbers stories instead of Big Serious Policy. You’re feeding the monster, you clean up its shit.
Consider the variables. Weather. Season. Ministerial resignations. Expense scandals. Winston Peters, John Tamihere, Colin Craig, John Ansell. Epsom, Ohariu, the Maaori seats. David Cunliffe, Judith Collins. No Rugby World Cup. Shifting voter demographics. Turnout.
Consider that election day is actually a bit of a big deal and many people may be wavering between two or three options as they enter the voting both. Greens, Labour, Mana? Dunne or Shanks? Make a statement with a Green candidate vote or compromise your real principles to boot out Paula Bennett?
Polls in 2012 mean fuck all for Election Day 2014. Tell the journos that the only poll that matters is on election day – show some respect for all the voters who don’t get called – and get on with your bloody job.