Armstrong column: Nats and polling

Written By: - Date published: 10:00 am, June 1st, 2010 - 35 comments
Categories: john key, Politics, polls, uncategorized - Tags:

According to John Armstrong in today’s NZ Herald:

Perhaps the only surprise in National shedding a hefty five percentage points in the latest opinion poll is that the drop in support for the governing party was not even greater. National’s slide in the One News-Colmar Brunton poll from 54 per cent support in mid-April to 49 per cent follows a period when the Government has been paddling in deep and dangerous political waters where the currents of public opinion run particularly strong. Moreover, it has often done so without ensuring it has the means to extricate itself should it get into difficulties.

The Roy Morgan poll, which surveys voter preferences more frequently, had National slipping to around 49 per cent a couple of months ago. Moreover, support has since remained around that level….

The message National should take from the poll is that it needs to lift its game in terms of political management, rather than continue its relaxed, sometimes lackadaisical approach. That did not matter so much when it was surfing the poll wave. It does if the polls are now on the turn. The lesson for Labour is that it is still having huge trouble reconnecting with voters. The One News poll is good news for Labour in that National has fallen below a crucial psychological barrier of 50 per cent support.

The timing of the election next year will remain up in the air for some time, but the strategists for National must be thinking of the advantages of a campaign before the world cup. So the push to up the game (of both these main contendors)  is about increase in intensity.

35 comments on “Armstrong column: Nats and polling”

  1. ghostwhowalksnz 1

    I thought the Nats would go very early, like THIS October -when the tax cuts begin. I think the polling might now scuttle that. The advantage of the RWC date is pushing Labour off the stage for the pre election jousting. All ready National is cutting down on parliament sitting days, expect next year to be a rarity

  2. Adrian 2

    Too risky to go after the RWC, even if the misconception that losses hurt governments is put to one side, an early loss to say SA would make the populace slightly grumpier than normal. I think it’s going to be in May after the next budget and just before councils set their rates.

    • Bunji 2.1

      Yes, before all the Aucklanders realise just how much this SuperCity is going to cost them…

    • felix 2.2

      “… even if the misconception that losses hurt governments is put to one side …”

      Very well, please continue:

      “… an early loss to say SA would make the populace slightly grumpier than normal.”

      Ok then.

      • Adrian 2.2.1

        A few years ago I saw a (can’t remember where ) a study that refuted the link, it pointed out that the around the same time that the perceived ‘ test loss/ election loss ‘ scenarios occured a lot of other issues were happening and it was pretty much a very minor part of the eventual outcome, hence my mention of slightly grumpier.

        • gobsmacked

          A bit different in 2011, because it’s not just about the All Blacks losing, it’s the success (or not) of staging the Rugby World Cup in NZ. It will dominate the news.

          I reckon there’s a few bad headlines (e.g. transport foul-ups) that a government would rather avoid. “Prime Minister booed at Party Central” – oops.

        • felix

          Don’t you reckon that “slightly grumpier” populace is the entire effect though?

          There needn’t be rioting in the streets or anything, just slightly grumpy would do it I’d have thought.

        • Irascible

          The research was done by Massey University I think. The findings were backed up with demonstrations that there was no causal link between success or failure on the sports field in any of the countries examined.
          The link between sports success / failure has been and always will be an urban myth perpetuated by lazy journalism.

    • Gooner 2.3

      Rates in the new Auckland Council are fixed on current rating amounts set by local councils until 2013. There are no rating increases next year, or the year after, that ratepayers do not already know about.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 2.3.1

        That is not the case, the rates are NOT fixed. Its the rating ‘system’ that is carried forward ( some Councils use different methods) and a new region wide system will be indroduced.
        the ATA merely says a ‘cap’ on rates is blah blah

        Translation since its after the election the rates WILL rise next year under the AC

      • Adrian 2.3.2

        So how are the councils going to recover the unaccounted for 1.75% this year and 2.5% next of GST and the loss of depreciation on buildings as well as currently subsidising jobs in departments that have had serious downturns in income due to less RMA and permit activity. Watch rates for all councils go up by 7-9% minimum. Try explaining that away in an election year as there won’t be a single councilor in the country not blaming it on the Nats.

  3. I dreamed a dream 3

    Because of the steady erosion of the Nats’ support, I am quite sure the Nats are panicking and furiously revising their plans and will now call the Election as early as possible, before the support goes too far south. Possibly somewhere Oct 2010 thru May 2011.

  4. gobsmacked 4

    This was John Armstrong on the Saturday following the Budget:

    “Although highly unscientific, a TV One-Close Up poll on Thursday night provided a thumping endorsement of National’s tax package and other measures unveiled that afternoon.

    That result was replicated in a similarly unscientific Herald online poll yesterday with those considering the Budget a winner running at nearly three to one.”

    John, if they’re “unscientific”, why do you bother with them? Especially since you claim not to be surprised a few days later, when actual post-Budget public opinion is measured.

    Shouldn’t the Saturday column have said: “Ignore the self-selected online gimmicks. They are meaningless. I, as an esteemed and experienced commentator, confidently expect National to lose support in the first real opinion poll, taken after the Budget.”

    Unless, of course, you didn’t.

  5. Sanctuary 5

    The country doesn’t like being incovenienced with early elections for no reason – it’s an automatic 5% hit in the polls if you do.

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      Yeah, I really don’t think there’s any reason for National to go to the polls early. The timing is going to be tricky because of the world cup, and I’m picking they’d go before it, but having an election this year? No way.

      Also remember their task force looking at privatising KB is scheduled to last 8 months, clearly having an election before then would put their fore-gone conclusion at risk, and they can’t campaign on “our taskforce says to sell Kiwibank” if their taskforce hasn’t concluded yet.

      On this note, remember that Labour called an earlier-than-usual election in 2002, how did that fare for them? I wasn’t able to vote because of their choice of date, if it’d been at the normal time I’d have been 18 and they would’ve got my vote.

      • gingercrush 5.1.1

        Stellar I would have thought. I know people think Labour got punished. They might have but I don’t think the 2002 election was a brilliant one for Labour. The campaign was ordinary and Clark had the corngate scandal but English was too incompetent that the minor parties were always going to shine because many middle and right wing voters that normally would have voted National went elsewhere. Yes the polls had Labour above 50%. But how realistic was that ever. With every election the margins tightened. We saw that in 2008. The polls tightened. Probably not as much as the left expected but it still tightened. The same happened in 2002. Labour’s vote fell from an artificial high but National’s vote absolutely collapsed and the likes of NZ First, Act, the Greens and United Future were the beneficiaries.

        Personally I find the notion that Labour going early and voters punishing them is incorrect. National going early isn’t exactly an option. The gap between the left and right is too small. They don’t have obvious coalition problems at this stage. National can technically lose a coalition partner and still govern. Therefore, voters would just see that as opportunistic and it’d play into Labour’s hand. That’s the difference between 2002 and 2011.

        • Craig Glen Eden

          I am often critical of your postings GC but credit where credits due, I think you make some sound and considered points with this one. IMHO that is.

          • Lanthanide

            He’s started posting a lot more coherantly and less knee-jerk recently, which is good to see.

    • Bright Red 5.2

      I can see a late july/august election sold on ‘let’s get this out of the way before the world cup’ but can’t see may or june where the campaign would overlap with all the work ministers have to put into the budget (unless they go early on the budget too, which isn’t easy)

      • Zorr 5.2.1

        What work on the Budget? I thought this group just chucked in tax cuts to themselves and mates, then hit the bars to do some deep beer diving for reasons the NZ electorate might swallow to accept them.

  6. The Voice of Reason 6

    May/June next year, guys. Well before the RWC, but using that as a reason (the country’s resources will be tied up providing for the RWC, so let’s get the election out of the way).

    I had a good look through the Roy Morgan data last night and two things are clear; National are drifting down into the forties and Labour are solidly in the early thirties. Now we know what the Nat’s are doing in Government and we have a fair indication of what they will campaign on, but we do not know actually what Labour are going to put to the electorate. Less GST? Capital Gains Tax? Who knows, at this point?

    If Labour are holding steady without making any promises then they are doing bloody well. Imagine how things will look when Labour actually start putting out their election policies and voters have a clear alternative to consider. I think Goff is playing a terrific hand, just by shutting up and letting the Nats, ACT and the Maori Party talk their way onto the opposition benches.

    New Roy Morgan in a couple of days, BTW. Should be interesting reading.

    • Lanthanide 6.1

      “Less GST? Capital Gains Tax? Who knows, at this point?”
      GST off fruit and vegetables, capping public service salaries to the same level as the PM’s, raising minimum wage to $15.

      “I think Goff is playing a terrific hand, just by shutting up and letting the Nats, ACT and the Maori Party talk their way onto the opposition benches.”
      I agree, but looking at any comment thread on stuff, everyone’s saying that Labour has no ideas and aren’t debating policy etc. Obviously these people don’t understand the political cycle, but that doesn’t stop them having opinions. Hopefully (and logically) all of that will melt away once Labour start putting out their policies.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 6.2

      What are the Nats going to campaign on? Thats a good question, last time it was tax cuts and anti-PC stuff. This time I assume they will need to convince the electorate that the hair-shirt approach, making the tough decisions that Labour can’t, we need three more years to finish the job we started etc… is actually working.

      But what if GDP growth is still sluggish, unemployment high and wages continue to stagnate? You can hardly say we need more of the same. And somehow I don’t think more privatisation, more cuts to services and tough on crime stuff are election winners in economically challenged times.

  7. Sanctuary 7

    It is also worthwhile to remember that outside the core 4% the Green vote doesn’t actually vote. If they are polling 9%, expect them to get 6%. The Greens ned to be polling around 7% just to be reasonably sure they’ll make the threshold. For the left, the Greens will have to be polling over 10% to have a chance of defeating National.

    Everyone is writing off ACT, but Hide is a good campainger and ACT has the advantage that can concentrate all their resources on one electorate. Why the Greens have not followed this survival strategy is beyond me. But even if Hide hangs on in Epsom, he’ll only take one other person back to parliament with him. Fingers crossed that if there has to be two ACT MP’s after the next election they are Hide and Roy.

    Winston won’t come back.

    The other player might be this rumoured “rural party.” It is probably just an attempt to heavy National over the ETS, but Lachlan McKenzie is a hard out ACToid and climate change denier, so is possibly stupid enough to actually try. 4% off the top of National? YES PLEASE!!

    • Zorr 7.1

      Sanctuary, that requires ACT to survive the next election. So far it is 3 (?) attempts at a party coup?

  8. gobsmacked 8

    Re- Farmers’ Party: it’s worth noting that in every term under MMP (and even before) there has been at least one case of an MP quitting a party, or a new party being formed (Copeland, Field, Turia, Alliance post-99, NZ First post-96, Alamein Kopu, etc). Hone Harawira is probably the best bet to do it this term.

    There’s a gap in the market for a self-styled People’s Party (which will talk Outsider but act Right), cashing in on general populist issues, tapping into frustration with “politicians”, as Winston did in the ’90’s.

    But without a sitting MP, or a deal in a major party electorate, it’s a non-starter really.

    • gingercrush 8.1

      It also requires someone with personality. The sole exception in this area outside Election 2002 has been Dunne. But then he does represent a very rich electorate and National did the deal in 1996 to ensure Dunne won his seat.

      Very few in National have much personality and I can’t think of a single National MP holding a rural/provincial seat with a personality. Who from a rural/farming background has the charisma/personality to do something? I can’t think of any. In fact I’m struggling to think of a right-wing identity to form a party around full stop.

      • Daveski 8.1.1

        Phil Goff?

      • Lanthanide 8.1.2

        Try not to limit yourself to the political space only.

        Could there be an economist, an entertainer, a businessman lurking around somewhere that could parachute in to start up a new party?

        What about Michael Lhaws, he could round up the redneck gang will still giving support to National, which in turn could make National more likeable by swing voters/those in the centre.

  9. ghostwhowalksnz 9

    Is it me or two days after announcing SOME results of the poll TV1 still doesnt have all the numbers released. ie numbers for NZ First , United Future , Progressive

    The numbers released so far only account for 94.8%

  10. ianmac 10

    Thanks Snoozer. Have bookmarked the link.

  11. Jellytussle 11

    Lol…I like the idea of a Lucy Lawless left party!

  12. Jenny 12

    Though I have no idea on the likely hood of his succeeding, and it hasn’t gained any legs in the media, Winston Peters is currently running an anti-Maori Party campaign in his effort to perform another Lazerus like return to parliament.

    It is all classic Winston Peters stuff.

    Though we have seen it all before, it just happens, that this time the Maori Party is to be Winston’s scapegoat du jour.

    As the elections come closer, Peters will probably try and work the Tuhoe terror trials into the mix as well.

    Peters has built his political career on pandering to the prejudices and fears of the angry red neck white vote. No matter what the subject matter of Winston’s latest press releases are supposed to be about, they all end up whaling on about the “Treaty Grievance Industry” and “Maori Separatists” and “The Maori Party” though he doesn’t miss a good opportunity to throw in some racist demagoguery about Asians as well.

    Peters on the Maori Party:

    “This limb of this government’s support base hasn’t many months to go before it is brought home to them the cost of voter betrayal. Meanwhile another limb, the yellow one, is declaring its’ hand in a similar desperate struggle for survival. For both, of course, it will be too late.”

    Obviously, if Peters does return to parliament and is in a position to be part of a coalition government, his single demand (apart from the baubles of office) will be on the condition that the Maori Party be excluded.

    This would certainly complicate matters, when it comes time to find coalition partners.

    Frankly the possible various perturbations confound me, and It’s all highly theoretical depending on whether Peters has any real chance of returning to parliament or not. Maybe the next few polls will give us some idea.

    However in my opinion a National New Zealand First coalition government would be a disastrous combination, especially in a time of recession, free market defenders and diversionary scapegoaters, neither with any rational answer to the capitalist economic crisis.

    Would a New Zealand First, Labour coalition be more of a goer?

    And where would the Maori Party and the Greens fit into all this?

    • Lanthanide 12.1

      Winston being vehemently anti MP could potentially result in a hung parliament if either side needed both NZF and MP’s votes to secure a coalition.

      Pretty unlikely, but would be a remarkably difficult situation to deal with.

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