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Caution: Taking polling at face value may induce political whiplash

Written By: - Date published: 10:07 am, July 31st, 2017 - 114 comments
Categories: election 2017, MMP, polls - Tags: , , ,

This is a Guest Post from Matthew Whitehead. Matthew is a writer, programmer, Green party member, and electoral reform activist.

A new Colmar Brunton poll was recently released, having finished at the 27th of July, and as usual, the media is dramatizing its results without appropriate caution. It does potentially represent a shift in party voting trends, as the Greens had their recent and explosive announcement about welfare policy, so there’s a chance these changes are in fact real, but it’s still no reason to panic, you need to be looking at three polls in a row saying roughly the same thing before you can really absolutely conclude it’s probably correct, and political events often move faster than that, so a lot of the time we honestly don’t know.

I talk a lot about my feelings and speculation in online political debate, but I think it’s time to have a discussion about polling and the cold, hard facts around it, so that nobody panics at this poll, which I overall think is actually good news.

Every poll needs to be taken with four different grains of salt beyond just looking at the party vote percentages. They are:

  • Trend lines
  • Margins of error
  • Coalition arrangements and electorate seats
  • The lean of the polling organisation

Let’s take them one by one.

Trend Lines

Looking at just one poll in isolation is a bad idea, for several reasons. Firstly, as some have noted, polls jump up and down. Plotting polling on a graph looks a little like measuring an earthquake. This is at least partly due to margins of error, but it’s why more serious poll-watchers take a “poll of polls” approach to measuring political changes. Combine this with notations of significant political events and it makes it quite reliable to view both general trends and what campaigning tactics have been effective.

It is incorrect to say that these jumps up and down indicate “unreliability” in and of themselves. What really indicates unreliability is jumps that exceed the margin of error with no corresponding trend or explanation, and if you get such a jump more than one time in twenty1.

Overall, the trendline for polling since John Key has resigned has Labour and the Greens heading upwards when taken together, and National heading downwards.

Margins of Error and Undecided Voters

Lets look for a moment at the results of the Colmar Brunton poll. They were:

National: 47% (N/C) (about 58 seats)
Labour: 24% (-3%) (about 29 seats)
Greens: 15% (+4%) (about 18 seats)
New Zealand First: 11% (N/C) (about 14 seats)
TOP: 2% (N/C) (below threshold)
Māori Party: 1% (-1%) (single electorate seat)
ACT/UF/Mana: Let’s assume they win their electorates.

Majority: 62 seats.

Bottom line if this poll were the general election result: NZ First decides the government, with Mana and Māori party also needed for a left-wing coalition, a difficult proposition.

Now, you’ll frequently hear that the maximum margin of error for a poll like this is 3.1%. This number will differ based on the number of people polled, but almost always the goal for a polling company is to have 1,000 respondents, which lets them have a 95% chance of a 3.1% maximum margin of error.

That 3.1% doesn’t mean that any 3.1% of the results could be misallocated. What it means is, when you’re trying to draw a conclusion as to how big two mutually exclusive groups are, if each group is sized 50%, your numbers could be out by up to 3.1%. It will be less at smaller levels of support, such as Labour Voters vs Non-Labour voters, or ACT voters vs Non-ACT voters.

So, responsibly reported, the results start to look more like this:

National: 44%-50% (-3%/+3%)
Labour: 21.5%-26.5% (-5.5%/-0.5%, 2.5% MoE)
Greens: 13%-17% (+2%/+6%, 2% MoE)
New Zealand First: 9%-13% (-2%/+2%)
TOP: 1.4%-2.6% (-0.6%/+0.6%)
Māori Party: 0.7%-1.3% (-1.3%/-0.7%, 0.3% MoE)

(These are rounded, to the nearest half percent for over-threshold parties, and to the nearest per mille for small parties. It’s very difficult to generate a seat estimate for these because we can’t actually be sure it’ll add up to 100%)

Believe it or not, none of these changes are large enough to be 100% sure that the change from the previous Colmar Brunton poll to this poll is down to anything other than fluctuation within the margin of error. (you need a huge leap where neither margin “touches” the other to do that) They are big enough that Labour’s, the Greens’, and the Māori Party’s results likely are down to more than that, but we don’t know for sure, as the margins of error for each poll need to have no overlap at all for that to happen. It’s only if later polls back this one up that we can really draw a conclusion.

When looking at the margin of error, you should also remember that both the minimum and maximum bounds of that margin are very unlikely. Think as if there’s a normal curve inside that margin and you’ll get the idea. So National are very likely to be within 2% in either direction, and there are at least even odds they’re within 1% of the polled figure, but it’s still possible that the poll is up to 3% off.

Colmar hasn’t posted their full results yet, but they do tweet their undecided numbers. Adjusting to exclude people who refused to respond sufficiently, those numbers are 16.7%, or to put in the margins of error, there are only between 81% and 85.6% of voters polled who have actually decided who they’ll give their Party Vote to. That means there is a huge potential for late voters to decide this election, and if past experience is correct, those late deciders are likely to break for New Zealand First, Labour, and National.

Coalition arrangements and electorate seats

A lot of poll-watching reporting talks about likely coalition arrangements. The only definite things we should be assuming this stage is that the Greens and Labour are going to co-operate, and that United Future, ACT, and National are going to be co-operating, electorate votes permitting. We can reasonably assume that if Mana are returned to Parliament, Hone will refuse to co-operate with National, but won’t necessarily support Labour. And the Māori Party and New Zealand First have both refused to say, or give any reliable criteria for who they will decide to give preference to in any coalition talks, and any speculation on the topic is just that.

Even this poll, which trumpets itself as a “historic low” for Labour, fundamentally doesn’t change the coalition maths if we assume it will accurately depict the general election: (which it won’t, no poll has ever done better than getting within its margin of error, and some don’t even manage that) Winston is highly likely to control who can form a government.

Beyond that, nobody polls electorate seats, and they frequently change hands in unexpected ways for minor parties. There is no guarantee, even running against Greg O’Connor, (which theoretically may cancel out the advantage of the Greens withdrawing Tane Woodley from the race) that Peter Dunne will retain Ōhāriu. There is no guarantee Te Ururoa Flavell will retain Waiariki, and there is no guarantee that Kelvin Davis won’t lose Te Tai Tokerau back to Hone Harawira now that a certain German albatross is out from around his neck and the Māori Party has agreed not to contest that electorate. There’s no guarantee that even if the Māori Party lose Waiariki, that Marama Fox won’t manage to take Ikaroa-Rāwhiti, now that she’s not also fighting the Mana Party there. There’s even no guarantee that Raf Manji won’t manage to steal Ilam from Gerry Brownlee and remove the 120th List seat from Parliament2. The only information we have on these contests is guesses, and nobody is making an effort to figure this out before the election. (I don’t know why, a scoop on What’s Likely To Happen In Ōhāriu is far more valuable media fodder than the latest party vote poll, and people will be just as interested in Te Tai Tokerau)

In short, assuming previous electorate winners will retain their seats is just as wrong an assumption as assuming that all minor party challengers will win theirs.


And this is where we get to why this is actually a good result.

Different polling companies have different methods, reach different audiences, and therefore have different factors that might lean the results one way or the other compared to an actual general election. Colmar Brunton, for instance, doesn’t poll cellphones to my knowledge. They ask questions in different ways, decide if someone is an undecided voter in different ways, and talk to different numbers of respondents. All of their methods tend to be adequate practice in the industry, but that’s not to say many of them couldn’t improve.

While generally all well-intentioned, these actually influence whether a given party performs better in their poll than in elections (“over-polls”) or the reverse. (“under-polls”) There are general trends for two of the parties when compared to the poll of polls, but compared to other New Zealand polls relative to the average of all polls, and looking at the trend of their polling compared to the 2014 election results, Colmar Brunton tends to do the following:

  • Over-poll National.
  • Under-poll Labour.
  • Slightly under-poll the Greens.
  • Very slightly under-poll New Zealand First.

This isn’t to say that their performance in the 2017 election will continue to show that trend, but it means you should be sceptical of Colmar Brunton offering high results for National or low results for opposition parties, and likewise, certain other companies, like say, Roy Morgan, might have the opposite trends in how their responses tend to favour certain parties. This means you should really look at Colmar Brunton to confirm if drops for National’s support in Roy Morgan are likely to be real, and at Roy Morgan for whether drops in Labour’s support in the Colmar Brunton polls are.

To illustrate, let’s look at the most recent Roy Morgan:

National: 40%-46% (about 53 seats)
Labour: 27.7%-33.3% (about 37 seats)
Green Party: 11.4%-15.6% (about 17 seats)
New Zealand First: 6.3%-9.7% (about 10 seats)
Other: (incl. TOP) 1.7%-3.3% (below threshold)
Māori Party: 1%-2% (about 2 seats)
ACT: 0.7%-1.3% (single electorate seat)

Now, I expect that National’s real level of support is actually somewhere between the 40% minimum (or 43% estimate) of Roy Morgan and the 50% maximum (or 47% estimate) of Colmar Brunton. But it doesn’t serve us to panic. CB claimed no change, so National is more likely somewhere around 45% right now. That’s about 55 seats. That likely means they will need New Zealand First to govern, even if for some reason the Māori Party’s constituents tell them to work with National before Labour. Labour’s real job leading up to the campaign is to pivot in a way similar to what the Greens seem to have just done, whatever direction that pivot actually goes, and reclaim 4% or so of the vote. (Remember, Labour may be down 3 points in this CB poll, but the Greens were up 4- that means the whole coalition is likely up 1 point.

This poll, confusingly given both the coverage and Little’s reaction this morning, is good news, as it gets us closer to a position where New Zealand First will look stupid if it works with National, or even where Labour and the Greens don’t need them, and can talk to the Māori and/or Mana Parties about ensuring they can run a minority government, assuming they get their second MP and Mana gets Te Tai Tokerau)

Labour and the Greens together in the early July Roy Morgan, before Metiria’s welfare policy announcement, were polling 44%, (+4.5%) . In the Colmar Brunton, they’re polling 39%, (+1%) so even though I’m waiting for another couple polls to celebrate, I’m remembering the important thing: Labour and the Greens, taken together, are trending upwards. The Greens, the more progressive party of the two, is also doing well within that pre-election coalition. We might need to rely on New Zealand First to change the government, and I really don’t like that, but I’ll take it if I have to, especially if Labour makes sure they don’t get in any of their more racist policies.

1 Even a completely unflawed polling method should still throw up an anomaly or “rogue poll” 5% of the time. Roy Morgan, the company frequently cited as unreliable, has had one identifiable rogue in all the time I’ve tracked it, with Colmar Brunton having had two, for instance, while delivering less polls and at irregular intervals outside election campaigns. I generally trust that Roy Morgan is the most accurate company polling in New Zealand, although I completely ignore their commentary on their numbers because it’s complete fiction. This is because it both has some superior methodology, (such as polling cellphones) and because it did very well at predicting the trend for the 2014 election.

2 And that’s a whole other mess to explain. Independents don’t get overhang seats, they remove a seat from the list calculation altogether. So effectively whoever will have won the 120th list seat in Parliament has it “stolen” from them by the independent candidate. It’s most likely to be either National or Labour, but there’s no guarantee. It could be any list candidate who loses out if Raf Manji wins, and he would side with National at least as much as Peter Dunne does, so if Labour or the Greens lose a list seat to him, it’s really bad news. And there’s no way to know until every single vote is in. Why we decided to do things this way just for independents boggles the mind, frankly, but I suppose it was considered more likely that a large number of independents would win electorates than that you’d end up with a large electorate-based party.

114 comments on “Caution: Taking polling at face value may induce political whiplash ”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    if past experience is correct

    Under what circumstances do pollsters get it completely wrong? When past experience is derailed by some new narrative?

    • So, that comment was in context talking about the past experience of Who Undecideds Tend To Vote For. It tends to be bad for the Greens, and good for New Zealand First, and good for one or the other of National or Labour in recent MMP elections. The difficulty I have in saying for sure where undecideds will break is that 2017 is a dramatically different political landscape even to 2014.

      We have never had a pre-election coalition in New Zealand before. We’ve also never had a Labour Party this obviously floundering. Even under Cunliffe, the disunity didn’t lead to their leadership and strategy teams dropping the ball, they were just up against some hard political rhetoric to top and had to deal with an openly rebellious caucus. Likewise, Bill English isn’t impressing anyone particularly as PM, he’s basically got your bare minimum boost from being in the office in the Preferred PM stakes, and the National vote is slowly trending down, which is a worrying sign for them given that the over-polled in 2014, (likely due to late deciders breaking for Labour and NZ First) so it’s possible their vote will be even lower than it currently is if that trend holds in 2017. And then there’s the fact that we have a second undeclared wild card party in the Māori Party.

      We also don’t know how undecideds feel about the idea of a weak Labour Party leading a coalition. There are plenty of National voters against it, but it’s possible the undecideds will break to National if they’re sympathetic to the idea that the largest party should lead the government. I don’t think that’s a very MMP idea, but then again, there is a significant minority that don’t like MMP very much.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1

        Not so much undecideds, their opinions have been counted. I was thinking more of people who have previously disengaged in politics to the extent that their views never register.

        Or is that even a thing? 🙂

        • Those people, if polled, would be called “undecideds,” assuming they actually count in polling. (some companies screen people who admit they didn’t vote last election under a “likely voter” policy, and don’t even count them as undecided. CB says in their results breakdowns that they screen for eligible voters, which implies they don’t screen for “likely voters”)

          Clearly, we would expect that the extra 1% of new Green supporters that presumably didn’t come from Labour were feeling disengaged, as the extra Green support doesn’t seem to have come from either National or New Zealand First, who have both changed so little that it’s rounded out to nothing. The probabilities don’t guarantee that this is what happened, but it’s the most likely explanation, and we’ll see for sure when we get the next Roy Morgan coming in.

          Back to your original question now I understand it, pollsters generally get things dramatically wrong (ie. outside their margins of error) when the polling method is measuring something that doesn’t correspond with how people actually vote. So for instance, 2016 polling correctly predicted the popular vote for President in the USA- Hillary Clinton won, and was within the margin of error for where the pre-election polls had her support. But Donald Trump became president because of narrow victories in key states that weren’t adequately polled, and in which Clinton’s strategy was terrible.

          Likewise, Preferred Prime Minister is terrible at predicting when Labour is going to unseat National as the government, because people don’t usually like Labour candidates as much before they become PM, (Clark polled about 15% in preferred PM before she was elected) but there’s no good evidence that left-wing voters decide their party vote on who the PM would be, whereas there’s a reasonable correlation (but no clear indication of whether there’s even a causal link, or which way it runs) between the National Party’s performance in Preferred PM polling and their party vote.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            it’s the most likely explanation

            I was sure it was just my wishful thinking 🙂

        • RedLogix

          The left have to win elections without Winston. The core left-wing bloc is hovering around 40%, we need to get it over 45%.

          There are several ways to do this:

          1. Pull votes off National. It looks like their core tribal vote is about 40%, which only leaves 2 – 7% who may be soft and willing to consider the jump left from a right wing to leftish economic agenda. This feels like hard work.

          2. Pull votes off NZ1. I see NZ1 as economically aligned with the left, but socially to the right of National. I see their core support at around 10% and even harder to move than National’s.

          3. Motivate the ‘missing million’ to vote left. If this was easy we would have done it already, but these are a group who pretty much regard politicians as as something less pleasant than something you might find rotting under the refrigerator. By definition this group is non-tribal, or even anti-tribal. Politics as usual will not and does not work for them.

          4. It will be very interesting to see if TOP sustain the increase seen in this poll. While it’s still a tough ask to see them get over 5% (or a seat candidate) they do represent a fresh ‘non-tribal’ conduit for votes to move. Too early to completely write them off, but the left should be awake to their potential as a partner.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            Politics as usual will not and does not work.

            Funny you should mention that, since most pundits agree that Metiria Turei is not doing “politics as usual”.

          • Matthew Whitehead

            I would like that as well, but it requires Labour to commit to ruling out NZF as well. The Greens would probably say “I jump in it” if asked to fight NZF by Labour. 😉

            Greens have actually been pulling some National voters off slowly, the issue is that Labour has been losing no-voters and the Greens had been losing core voters fast enough that it didn’t make a noticable difference. There is no good indication that Labour is actually pulling back votes from National or NZ First by going sensible centrist.

            I think the Greens have made a good start with Metiria’s strategy this election. We just need to do this on issues other than welfare.

            Working with TOP is not much better than working with NZF, to be quite honest. They’ve got some really out there opinions on social policy, they’re kinda a liberal, evidence-obsessed version of NZF.

            I left all this speculation and opinion out of the post, because, well, I’m calling for people to treat polling as factual information, but with hard statistical limits to how reliable it is.

            • RedLogix

              They’ve got some really out there opinions on social policy, they’re kinda a liberal, evidence-obsessed version of NZF.

              TOP have policy objectives a lot closer to the Greens than anyone else.

              I’m very aware of the limits of what polling can tell us. But to a very high degree of confidence what we DO know is that Labour and the Greens are unlikely to form a govt on their own.

              That means we need a third partner … and that should concentrate our minds because I still see any arrangement with the Greens and NZ1 as irreconcilably unstable.

              • I agree their objectives are close to the Greens, but I was thinking of their blind spots, which are much closer to NZF. They don’t seem to get the importance of social policy, and seem to think that they can lowball spending and taxes at the same time and not suffer any consequences.

                If Labour would actually promise anything other than bland managerialism, they wouldn’t need to be shopping around for partners beyond the Greens. There are a lot of people that want to vote for Labour but don’t feel like they offer them anything. It’s not so much that the party itself is dying, but that it’s forgotten what it stands for, so its traditional supporters are wandering off to its potential coalition partners or simply not intending to vote anymore.

                Any arrangement with NZF in it is unstable. I don’t see the Green and NZF policy objectives as inherently unstable, (you can have a policy mix that supports the environment, and focuses on areas where the Liberal greens and Conservative NZF supporters can agree on, but still gives key concessions to each in negotiable areas. The parties are basically in lockstep on economics wherever it doesn’t touch immigration) but there’s questions as to how distracted Winston would be by the baubles he’d get from being a medium fish in a small pond as opposed to a medium fish swimming with a giant bloody shark if he worked with National.

                • RedLogix

                  It’s not so much that the party itself is dying, but that it’s forgotten what it stands for, so its traditional supporters are wandering off to its potential coalition partners or simply not intending to vote anymore.

                  Exactly what Chris Trotter was writing about years back. I noted last night that TOP are now claiming over 3500 paid up members; I wonder how that compares to Labour these days?

                  Because while David Cunliffe was no Jeremy Corbyn, the NZLP really have just drifted sideways into irrelevancy since they assassinated him. The sad part is that Andrew Little has the potential to be good; now and then he sparks … and then nothing. Frustrating.

                  • red-blooded

                    I agree with the basic analysis of your comment above (about the various challenges involved in pulling votes from different group), RedLogix. I think that what Matthew W is calling “bland managerialism” is an unearned pejorative, though. Labour has plenty of good social policy and solid values. They also know that they only win elections when they persuade the undecideds and soft Nat voters, though. Like it or not, it’s that centre group who decide elections.

                    As for the claims of TOP re paid members, I’d be pretty sceptical.

                    And yes, AL has good days and not-so-good. He has brought unity and (mostly) good judgement to the role. I don’t understand his thinking in saying that he’d offered to stand down, though. That will just become a stick to keep on hitting him and the party with.

                  • As something of a liberal, I feel a little dirty being compared to Chris Trotter, lol.

    • Al 1.2

      Really – how about the recent US election where the polls had Clinton MILES AHEAD but come election day – oh no!

  2. Cynical jester 2

    50 odd days till election yes the polls matter, Oh come on labour has said for three years Andrew Little’s polling doesn’t matter. ..guess what it does.
    They are headed for their worst electoral results in history and it breaks my heart. So much for that party investigation they have learned nothing we are even less popular than under cunliffe.

    Under bone of contention for me is labour still has no media strategy after bitching about a bias media for 6 years they still aren’t savvy.

    If we are are mid 20s or lower…

    The front bench has to resign on election night. Jacinda can stay of course as she’s the most popular mp in the party.

    All labour can do at this point is try stop bleeding support, ditch the script and try raise the party vote so labour is in a better place to govern in 2020. 2017 is a write off!

    • 2017 isn’t a write off, as again, Labour doesn’t win or lose alone when it’s in a pre-election coalition. This poll looks bad because CB always looks bad for Labour, because it leans towards National. If they can get NZ First onside, Labour are still on the path to win, as I don’t actually believe CB’s face-value results that they would need the independent Māori parties to get into government.

      This CB is better for Labour and the Greens together than the last one was. 24% will still get Labour its entire front bench, and a new MP or two besides, in off the list.

      I agree that Labour needs to desperately rethink their strategy, as if they continue trying to out-sensible National they’re going to lose. Labour only ever wins if the have heart, if they play to their own identity. Even Clark got that, as centrist as she liked to govern, and that’s why she remembered not to play the “we’re more sensible” campaign game, at least until 2009.

      • LivinInTheBay 2.1.1

        What about Labour’s internal polling that has them at 23%?

        And that in the last few elections they’ve then dropped on election night?

        • Reid Research’s poll, which is actually pretty good and doesn’t lean too hard any one way, just came out this evening, and it has Labour on 24%. That’s not great, but it’s not exactly in danger of losing Little from Parliament and plunging them into a leadership crisis.

          Labour outperformed the polling trend on election night. It did very slightly worse than the last round of polls, but still above the overall trend, and the polls were all well within the margin of error for where Labour ended up. That’s not a “drop,” that’s just statistical uncertainty in play. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_New_Zealand_general_election,_2014

  3. Adrian 3

    I”m trying to get my head around the Andrew Little/poll timeline.
    Its being reported , falsly I feel, that Andrew’s honest musing on his leadership to the party was triggered by the CB poll when his musing preceded even the end of polling. The interview may have even preceded the result in fact.
    I think this is a classic example of the deliberatly dishonest and corrupt reporting that we suffer from in NZ.
    Don’t blame Labour and all its leaders for not getting cut through, its a seriously lopsided game even taking into the equation the lack of French and South African refs.

    • You don’t think Little could have had a discussion with his strategists and senior caucus members last night, and checked if they still endorsed him continuing as leader? It was published at 6pm. Senior politicians don’t go “off the clock” entirely in the evenings the way you do in a normal job, it’s more like being a chief executive where you can get an emergency call at any time.

      If he really wanted to talk about that discussion though, he really should have framed it as “I checked in with my caucus, and they’re all behind me continuing on as leader.” You don’t talk in public about offering to resign during the bloody election campaign, that’s a disastrous idea.

      • Adrian 3.1.1

        I agree about the wrong but honest phasing, but I thought the offer or check was earlier in the week, therefore predating all this bullshit.

      • Karen 3.1.2

        Little said he had the discussion about standing aside as leader last week, presumably based on internal polling. They probably discussed at that time whether they would go public with this if the Colmar Brunton was bad (they would know it was due).

        I guess their reasoning was that media would be asking why don’t you resign so thought it would be a good idea to front foot it. Very, very stupid idea IMO. As a result, a major new Māori policy has had virtually no coverage.

        By the way there is a Newshub Reid poll out tonight.

        • Ah, thanks for clarifying that. I must have missed that info in the interview somehow.

        • LivinInTheBay

          But why then make it public?

          • McFlock

            Because he was asked, and gave an honest answer.

            • Matthew Whitehead

              There are times for being completely honest, and there are times for dodging the question. The only time you don’t dodge a question about whether you’re going to resign is if it’s obvious you’re not, or if you actually are going to resign. Any other time, it’s very foolish to talk about.

        • dukeofurl

          Thats correct . UMR polling for labour last week had even lower numbers

  4. greywarshark 4

    Thanks for the Guest Post which I am going to run off and wallpaper my living room with. What a mighty tome.

    Listening to attack dog Guyon this morning, he had smelt blood and wanted a big bite but Andrew stood up against it and repeated perhaps too patiently what he was about. Over and over. Listen to Winston against the doughty reporters playing broken record you Labour advisors.

    Also have a laugh at Steven Price’s funny but truly useful item on handling difficult political questions. Radionz had it and I hope this is the link.

    • There was a lot to cover. I’m trying to be less verbose but “How To Read Polls without unnecessarily panicking” isn’t something to be done in brief, and it was brief for how much I had to say, lol.

      I don’t actually agree that Guyon was unfair to Little on Morning Report. It was a ridiculous framing to say he considered resigning after this result, and terrible strategy, especially as it’s too early to even know if they’re realistically stuck at 25%. And his tirade at Metiria was incorrect, (again, it’s likely the Greens grabbed more of the vote than Labour lost, even though it’s not certain just yet- we’ll know more when the Roy Morgan releases, likely in a week or two) and undignified for someone with ambitions of being Prime Minister, who should understand that he doesn’t own voters, and that if they like what his coalition partner is saying more they have every right to change their preference.

      • greywarshark 4.1.1

        Your points are good, but he doesn’t want to be wasting his public exposure time with such trivia as Little called it. But knowing that will be the approach by media, one should have some easy jokes or abilities to slide out that Guyon could not have countered. As I said Steven Price may have something worthwhile to offer on his radio item I’ve linked to.

        • Yep, it’s like Labour doesn’t have anyone on staff who knows and cares how the media will handle things. It looks unprofessional rather than genuine.

  5. greywarshark 5

    The link is called – The Incoming Member of Parliament’s Guide to Ducking Questions. 2001-01-06. 12:33. It is about 20 minutes and is a beaut. Here it is again.


    The head-butt required confidence and fortitude that Winston Peters shows.
    Then there is the flip – for those who are less powerful speakers.
    One of the useful phrases that can be used –
    Let me just say this…..
    What I can say is this…
    and others.

    (And i hope I haven’t doubled up on this comment as I got mixed up and I think the system accepted the item again, slightly different as it was then.)

  6. greywarshark 6

    The link is called – The Incoming Member of Parliament’s Guide to Ducking Questions. 2001-01-06. 12:33. It is about 20 minutes and is a beaut. Here it is again.


    The head-butt required confidence and fortitude that Sinston Peters hows.
    Then there is the flip for those who have less power.
    One of the useful phrases that can be used –
    Let me just say this…..
    What I can is this….
    and others.

  7. Adrian 7

    How many of the phoned just say “fuck off “or drop the receiver.
    These are not the 16% undecided, the undecided have given an actual opinion.
    I remember something like 40% from a few elections ago.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1

      We don’t know how many of those are non-voters. For example, I fit in the “no thanks” group.

    • weka 7.2

      4% according to CB. Don’t know how they define that though.

  8. Policy Parrot 8

    It simply seems that a lot of erstwhile Labour voters have decamped to Winston, just like in 1996. It’s that 4% he got in 1999 and in 2008 that are his hard core. With NZ First’s end nearer than its start, Labour may need to make space again for a social conservative wing if they are to remain a 40% capable party.

    • I agree some have, but that’s not a feature of this particular latest poll so much as an ongoing trend for 2017.

      I actually think Labour shouldn’t necessarily be trying to square circles, and if it wants to be a party for centrist liberals, it should just get itself a left-wing conservative coalition partner that runs in all those places it needs a Shane Jones or a Stuart Nash.

  9. Treetop 9

    I just hope that people vote strategically on 23 September. This is why National have done so well in the last two elections.

    Winston will grab some of the National vote, he is a threat to them. I would like to see a Labour/ NZ First coalition.

    • It’s hard to vote strategically when that means supporting Greg O’Connor. I have been trying to convince my Dad and stepmother to do so, but I haven’t had much luck. Amusingly, my mother was totally onboard the Never Dunne train from the first stop despite being pretty idealogical about some things.

      • Treetop 9.1.1

        Of all the new candidates to stand at the next general election O’Connor is the most interesting. I was surprised when I found out that he was not a National supporter. O’Connor will have a lot to say about the police, he will keep advocating for them. I think he will beat Dunne.

  10. dukeofurl 10

    Another point should be the ‘theoretical margin of error’ is as described when the
    sample of people polled is an exact match to the population that votes.

    Realistically thats hard to do. From the British election, we know one of the reasons they were out in 2015 was the over 60s age group was lumped in together, when the over 70s were far more likely to vote Conservative.

    For commercial reasons- and lest not forget in NZ all political polls are lumped in with a standard monthly or fortnightly marketing polling about soap powders, or travel companies or brand of fruit juice. To those commercial sponsors its the ‘prime buying’ demographic they are most interested in- usually females from say 20- 40 yrs.
    They are barely interested in over 50s let alone the breakdown from 60+ and 70+

    This is a bit round about way of saying , by the time methods and accounting for those who dont vote ( a factor with Greens) and those undecided ( at this stage a large group may 15%+) the ‘working margin of error’ for something like the numbers for national is closer to 5% rather than 3.6%.

    levae the random sampling for the washing powder manufacturers and switch political polls to the panel method, as I understand they have better results for elections ( It was correct for Trump and UK where the real result is based on seats won or states won)

    • Margin of error is purely a statistical thing. Those are biases you’re talking about, not errors, and they’re not easily measurable the way you’re implying, wheras statistical errors follow mathematical formulae.

      I am in the school that thinks that polling purely on landlines is a bias, because it tends to skew respondents older and richer. It’s part of why Colmar Brunton and Reid Research tend to overpoll National to different degrees, IMO. There are difficulties to polling cellphones, but they’re worth working around because in 20 years or so landlines are going to be all but obsolete. Roy Morgan seems to overpoll Labour instead, so there’s likely some other bias going on there that needs to be sorted out, but I used the word “lean” in the post to avoid it getting into overly emotional terms.

      • dukeofurl 10.1.1

        Yes thats right. But in a ‘television sense’ the margin of error and biases should be lumped together say 3.6 +2.0.

        Hasnt one NZ polling company some elections back dropped publication of one of their polling results as it seemed to be so far out of whack with what other current polls were.
        Ive heard that has happened in the UK where the big polls can be weekly in the lead up to the election.

        “All the polls that are fit to print’

        • I think that media covering polls should mention which way they’ve tended to be biased in the last election, but it’s tricky because two of them are comissioned by media as it is, so they don’t want anyone else blasting their poll, so they treat everything as completely accurate, which as you say, is not entirely fair.

          I object to the idea of trying to enumerate their biases, because it’s really hard to know what was bias resulting from how a poll was conducted, and what was genuine statistical error. Did a poll miss a party’s result because they had a late surge with undecided voters that nobody could have predicted in time? Did they miss it because they don’t poll people by landline, or do internet panels? Or was it something else? It’s all guesswork, lol.

  11. Enough is Enough 11

    If read at face value the poll tell us what everyone knows. This is a tight race.

    The media story and twitter frenzy today is not about the poll result, rather Little’s bizarre reaction to the poll and his alarming comments.

    • dukeofurl 11.1

      Ah , yes . The daily media sausage.

      The only thing to remember is no matter what goes in it , it must be made

    • popexplosion 11.2

      RUbbish. Little is placing himself for the good of his party. Obviously the poll show voters have woken up to the fact that Epson voters get multiple of MPs by split voting. Since Labour now is trending to a constituent party, releasing the party vote for Greens, Nat’s or NZF. Personally Winston ‘my way or the highway’ Peters is too much like the dotage in the Whitehouse, and we all know Nat’s aren’t cutting it on managing the economy. Our evil liberal conservative media, as emphasised by Hootens recent livid rage that Little won’t get back to Parliament and vacant attack on bennies living an benefit for fifteen years, oh has he never heard of deaf, blind, etc individuals as if any one could get the benefit for that long with serious problems, is Hooten suggesting National has failed on its wrap around services again. Look seriously Mitiria is now a successful professional, like Bennett our deputy PM because of access to welfare and its just abusive to claim otherwise. Hooten likes Little being in parliament and hates all the welfare recipients who got there assisted by welfare.

      Clearly someone on the left wokeup to the damage of Labour and Green running don’t sell electricty, companies, those ads that suggested they were either too close together or tripping of each other. Now we have a choice, split vote, voteLab in the constituency and either nzf or green in the party. Do you want dictator peters or change greens? Nuf said. And hey thanks Hooten for pointing out Jacinda would be leader if Little wasn’t returned,as obviously that’s what voters wanted by split voting.

    • I wrote this post last night at Weka’s request, before Andrew Little opened his dumb mouth, lol, but I was really tired at the time so asked to edit it this morning first so I could see it with fresh eyes.

    • LivinInTheBay 11.4

      It’s a tight race if one assumes Winston will accept the Greens in coalition.

      Word is he hates them with a passion.

      • Oh well, as long as we have anonymous whispers of what he thinks, clearly that’s more important than actual numbers that dictate what position the parties will be in.

        I am as cynical as anyone when it comes to Winston. If I thought he definitely couldn’t work with the Greens, I would call it like it is and say that Labour and the Greens desperately needed to undermine him. But he doesn’t show any obvious sign of who he wants to favour, because he knows that way he can get disaffected voters from both.

        You also have to remember that nobody in the Greens really wants to work with him that much, either. But they’re willing to be professionals and play nice with the nationalists if they have to, because honestly a government with them is better than another term of National. And he doesn’t want to be made to look petty by the Greens being more open to co-operating than he is.

  12. McFlock 12

    I think Litte’s response reflects his primary focus on the Labour Party, rather than on the wider labgrn bloc.

    Which in turn simply reflects his role as leader of the Labour party.

    • Yep, I agree. That’s not what this post is about, of course. 🙂

      • McFlock 12.1.1

        heh, yeah it was more an incidental line in one of the paragraphs.

        You wrote a good article, I should have made a point of saying. It covers the main issues of polls as well as some of the MMP details that people fixated on one party seem to have a tendency to forget.

        And it flows well, so it’s easy to find sections that might be of interest later down the line.

  13. The Real Matthew 13

    Nice article but here’s the big problem for the left.

    On this poll Andrew Little is in genuine danger of not being returned to parliament. So who would be the prime minister for a left leaning government? It’s a problem because we’ve seen with both Helen Clarke and John Key that the electorate does vote to an extent on the qualities of the leader as opposed to voting solely on policy.

    Last time around we saw National effectively portray the left as a row boat rowing in all directions and going nowhere. This time round watch for National to portray the left as a rudderless, leaderless ship, playing on Little’s low Prime Ministerial approval rating along with the chance he doesn’t make it to parliament.

    • Poission 13.1

      well that may be the case,but NZ first will decide the gvt whatever the l/r divide.

      The payback will be that WP may also decide the cabinet,by vetoing smith,,brownlee ,collins and joyce lots of power sitting on the crossbench,

      • I wouldn’t accept it as a fait accompli that Winston will go with National. There are some arguements that suggest he could, but I think he’s genuinely going to consider his options, and there’s several reasons to think he might also want to work with Labour, assuming he is in fact in the kingmaker position after the election.

        1) Labour will be more compatible with his giant package of “bottom lines” than National will be.
        2) He is likely to get more concessions from a Labour-Green government due to his relative importance in the coalition.
        3) One lesson he may have learnt from 1996 is simply that National are not as good at genuinely being in coalition with another party of any significant size, and that he can’t trust them to keep their word if there’s a leadership spill. It’s no good having the baubles of office briefly if you can’t keep them.
        4) I have a feeling Labour and the Greens would be much more tolerant of a demand for the Deputy Prime Minister role.

        I don’t like being in this position, again, my go-to rhetorical framing is that the Left should be trying to win without Winston, while perhaps not openly declaring war on him. (although I do not believe that correctly describing his rhetoric as racist is “declaring war,” YMMV)

        • popexplosion

          Winston anti immigration stance hurts regional farming and older retired NZ who need migrants, and he shown little interest outside of Northland for infrastructure or investing in tourism or public multimodal transport. Peters is too conservative on all the issues for the left to work with,and he smells bad, Trump bad, a older man who dictates his way, Peters will drag with him a whole bunch of crazy yes sir NZF MPs. And then I’m not even sure he knows what he is talking about when interview, he is very capable of avoiding the question not much idea of answering them.

          • Matthew Whitehead

            I agree with all your points other than that him in a coalition is worse for the country than having another term of National as the government. I would rather have him in government to start with and try to grow Labour and the Greens’ votes so that they can kick him out in the second term than concede a fourth term to National, especially when they’re looking to privatize even more of our infrastructure, do nothing about child poverty and the housing crisis, and we’d have a catholic conservative PM who could start attacking liberal laws any time he wants.

            Making some concessions to slow down migration might not be a terrible thing, (even though I believe migrants are good for the country and it generally doesn’t hurt to have more) especially if they’re targetted so that they speed up migration to the regions but slow it down to Auckland in particular, as that would be a reasonable compromise that gives a new government the time it would need to start rebuilding the transport and housing infrastructure Auckland needs without putting so much additional stress on it.

    • Little needs a 22.5% result to stay in Parliament, assuming they don’t lose any current electorates and they manage to win in Ōhāriu. Colmar Brunton tends to under-poll Labour, meaning that the normal distribution of the margin of error needs to be shifted upwards, so it’s very unlikely that a result under 22.5% is actually indicated by this poll. There is a Reid Research poll coming out this evening, which is generally less biased towards National, but I’m going to wait for Roy Morgan before I come to any firm conclusions, because if even Roy Morgan has them near dangerous territory then their drop is probably real, but again, it’s only a problem for Labour, not for the Left in general.

  14. popexplosion 14

    NR Hooten can’t image that a deaf or blind person can’t heal themselves and get off a benefit after fifteen years!!!!

    • Yes well, expecting that shame on the name of Matthew, Mr. Hooton, to have empathy for someone is just as ridiculous as expecting a spontaneous remission from blindness or deafness.

      • popexplosion 14.1.1

        What’s Hooten going to when Peters is gone, every election he predicts Peters will be King maker! Trumps old dotage reign my way highway is so Peters. I really worry Hooten mental state will self destruct… …clearly he lost plot today when he went all livid that Little would not be around for Peters to deal with.

        • Even a broken clock is right twice a day? Seriously though, Peters is very likely to be Kingmaker unless either National or Labour gets their acts together, so Hooton is right when it comes to this election, and polling was, for a while, showing the same thing in the previous one, it just stabilised with a left-wing government being possible but very unlikely and we got the National and Hangers-On government instead.

          • popexplosion

            Bollocks. Excuse my… …let’s just imagine that a universe exists where Peters has said something so repugnant that nobody can work with him, are you suggesting that politics will stop? No. The universe will go on without the manufacture of consent meme you have just tried to pass on, my political immunity to this bug is hard won required a switch out from my emotional pleaders peddling fear of chaos. To a rational mind that sees a political history of dictating to his fellow MPs,tracking any rightward wind, obviously past his best and relying on the age vote, and for one last hoorah will holdup a last term National govt as he gets more that way. A new administration isn’t predictable and malleable, fearing he’ll walk and force them into another election.

  15. Cemetery Jones 15

    Good summary there, thanks!

  16. Bill 16

    If the undecideds and unreachables are made up of a fair proportion of people who are suddenly pricking up their ears at the Green Party’s shift away from ‘politics as usual’ (and I think that’s a reasonable thing to suggest), then none of the polls are going to pick that up.

    Poorer people, many with with no land-lines or whatever, who ‘get’ what Metiria was on about may well have voted Labour or NZF in the past and now be rethinking, while poorer disengaged voters may be looking at wandering along to the democratic circus again now that the promise of a worthwhile act is on the cards.

    I’m going to be curious about any signs of a shift away from NZF . Shifts from NZ Labour to Green are much less important from the perspective of a given bloc.

    And then there will be the impact of those ‘unreachables’ that the polls will be missing and who, bar anecdotal evidence, we won’t know about until election day.

    edit – I thought this election was going to be a torturous yawn fest until Metiria.

    • Yeah, I’m really inspired by Metiria’s rhetorical shift. She’s genuinely listened to the members and changed tack this election and it’s worked wonders. I’m really proud to have someone with her personal courage as our co-leader.

      You’re a little wrong to suggest that polls won’t pick up the “missing million” returning. They will, of course, fail to pick up any trends among people who won’t ever respond to or be reached by polling, but with one polling org using the internet and another using cellphones, the main problem is people who would simply refuse to be polled, and you can’t really do anything about that. If undecideds are suddenly breaking for the Greens, you would expect a boost like you saw in the CB. Newshub’s poll, conducted at the same time, suggests a more modest increase for the Greens, which likely means that they’re not getting the full four point boost, but they’re still doing a lot better than they were before.

  17. Norfolk Traveller 17

    “Colmar Brunton tends to do the following:

    Over-poll National.
    Under-poll Labour.
    Slightly under-poll the Greens.
    Very slightly under-poll New Zealand First.”

    Good try, but no.
    CM poll taken 13 – 17 September 2014:
    National 45%, Labour 25%, Greens 12, NZF 8%.
    Election Result 20 September 2014:
    National 47%, Labour 25%, Greens 12, NZF 6.6%.

    In summary, the CM underestimated National, and got the others fairly close.

    [lprent: Hey stupid dumbarse. Please don’t compare apples with lemons. Comparing the accuracy of a poll taken 7 weeks out from an election in 2017 to a poll taken days before an election in 2014 and claiming accuracy is outright stupid.

    Make too many of these spurious spinner style diversions and I’ll kick you off the site. There is a limit to how much ‘ignorance’ I can be bothered letting on the site to foul up the comment stream. Too much and I just start treating stupidity as trolling. Smarten up.

    This is your warning. ]

    • One Anonymous Bloke 17.1

      Depends what you understand the meaning of the word “tends” to be.

      The initials are “CB” by the way. Sometimes “ONCB”.

      • Norfolk Traveller 17.1.1

        The previous CB poll (6–10 September 2014) had National 46, Labour 25, Greens 14, NZF 7. Again, National understated.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          What do all the other polls they’ve ever released say?

          • McFlock

            Well, their poll about as far away from the 2014 election as we are now put national on 52. I guess they don’t campaign well 🙂

          • DoublePlusGood

            I think we can have confidence at this point that the two polls immediately before the election will be quite accurate, and all the rest will be wildly making shit up to suit a narrative.

          • Norfolk Traveller

            You’d have to look. I would have thought the two immediately prior to an election would be a good guide to how accurate the polling is, given the election is what they are being measured against.

            [lprent: You are obviously wrong. Perhaps you should pull your head out of the your arse (or a sewer) for long enough to engage your upper brain rather than wanking on about your “common sense” approach. See my note further up.

            You are starting to waste my time. ]

            • Norfolk Traveller

              “You are obviously wrong.”
              About what?

              “…given the election is what they are being measured against.”
              EXACTLY. And my comparisons were of the two CB polls immediately before the last election. It is the election that determines accuracy, which is why I used that comparison. Stop being a tosser and let people have their say.

              [lprent: I do. You just have to actually know what you are talking about when you assert ‘facts’. To me you look like the type of stupid troll would have problems even being able to lift a club because you were too lazy to figure out where the handle is. Instead you’d just blowhard about how much bigger your dick is than the club. Certainly too lazy to go and look up a relevant comparison that actually contributes to the debate. You read just like other ignorant factless blowhards – Trump comes to mind. Stop whining and do some work to support your arguments like everyone else does here. ]

    • Bearded Git 17.2

      You are forgetting the disastrous “moment of truth” which occurred in the last week before the election in 2014 and is generally accepted to have cost the Left at least 1-2%.

      The polls would not have picked this up.

    • Norfolk Traveller 17.3

      The post included the following comment:
      “Colmar Brunton tends to do the following: Over-poll National”.
      That comment makes my response entirely reasonable.

      I’d suggest you pull your head out your own arse and read the comments before jumping in.

      [lprent: The post was talking about the accuracy poll that was released about 7 weeks before an election. So you counter with an argument that says polls released 1 & 2 weeks before an election were more accurate than that when measured against the election result. It is a statistically invalid comparison. It even violates any kind of common sense. It is the type of spurious false fact that I don’t tolerate around here because it causes stupid flamewars that the moderators have to clean up. ]

    • Hey Norfolk- sure, you’re right if you look just at the one poll before the election. I looked at how they polled National compared to the average in general in the lead up to 2014 as well, (and they were consistently above the trendline) and how they compare to the trend in 2016 and 2017. Colmar Brunton almost always gives the highest result to National of any of the polling companies, and a lot of the talk of an outright National government without any coalition was based on CB polling.

      So it really depends on what you look at. I think it’s much fairer to look at the overall performance relative to the trend than just the poll before the election, although I did put some weighting to its performance in that last poll too, which stopped me from saying that they drastically over-poll for National on average.

      In short, LPrent’s warning is accurate, lol, but I can see why you would want to call me on that statement, as the bit about considering their performance relative to the election makes it seem like they were off in their pre-election poll, rather than that I was saying they were less off because of it.

  18. ianmac 18

    Bugger! “A UMR Research poll provided to Labour, the pollster’s corporate clients and some other parties last week, and leaked to Stuff on Monday, showed Labour on 23 per cent – down six points from a similar poll in June.”

    And Green on 15%.

    • McFlock 18.1

      wasn’t that the poll that got leaked by umr’s corporate clients last time, too?

      • dukeofurl 18.1.1

        Seems they poll every fortnight. A big companies want to know whos winning in the polls too.

        • McFlock

          Yeah the nice thing about last time was the leaker leaked it before Labour even got a peek at it – proving that Labour’s at least more disciplined now than in the past.

          I suspect that UMR have a new client between now and the last election who’s shitting on their brand. Corporates might want to see political polling, but they might not want to see their commissioned market research leaked, either.

    • weka 18.2

      There’s a whole post up about why looking at single polls isn’t that helpful 😉

      Caution: Taking polling at face value may induce political whiplash

      • RedLogix 18.2.1

        Little is rejecting criticism he looks to have all but given up, despite admitting he contemplated falling on his sword in the wake of Sunday’s disastrous poll result.

        But he has admitted that, with the party polling so low it was not credible for him to form a Government and become prime minister, even though technically it could be done.

        Maybe some should tell Andrew Little how single polls aren’t all that helpful.

        His logic in his second para is even more unsettling. If as he reasons that Labour cannot credibly form a govt and prime minister while they’re still on 23% … then how the hell could any other party polling even lower?

        • weka

          Listen to the interview with Dann. What Stuff are saying isn’t how I heard Little. It’s the same old shit, journos interpreting instead of reporting. If they don’t get what Little is on about then they’re going to parse it through their own world view.

      • ianmac 18.2.2

        But as Matthew says watch the trends. He says 3 or 4 polls make a trend. This makes 2.

        • Actually with the Reid Research poll out (http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/election/2017/07/newshub-poll-winston-peters-cements-position-as-kingmaker.html) it makes 3, so I’d feel reasonably confident in saying that both Labour and National are drooping a bit, and New Zealand First and the Greens are growing. (I’ll probably wait on the RM before opining on how much, as if it’s worse for the Greens than the CB was, then that means that CB just got a rogue result and things aren’t good for the left, wheras if it’s better than the CB, that likely means Reid Research under-polled them this time, and the coalition is growing at the expense of Labour’s share of the vote) I’d say we can be fairly certain of that conclusion at least while we wait on the next poll or even the next set of polls- Labour needs to switch things up if they want to pull their weight and try to get in without needing New Zealand First, and they need to pull up before they start polling at a position where Little can’t get elected, because then that will be all the media will want to talk about, which will make it even harder for them to do better.

    • Bearded Git 18.3

      mmm interesting 42-23-16-15.

      Labour forms a government with NZF with Greens supporting on supply. Little doesn’t get a seat on the list (which is a shame) so Jacinda is PM, Winnie deputy. With a Labour overhang and 54% (23/16/15) this gives a very stable government (plus Hone).

      Boy do I like that 42.

      • indiana 18.3.1

        …really? Jacinda is PM?

      • At 23%, Labour could win an extra electorate compared to 2014 with someone who’s not already high on the list, and still get Andrew Little in. They might lose David Parker, depending on how things go, which is still bad, but it’s not total disaster.

        There is no overhang for Labour until they’re polling at a 27-seat list entitlement, assuming they don’t start winning way more electorates than in 2014, where they were already electorate-heavy compared to their Party Vote. Reid Research’s figures would lead to a likely 30-seat Labour Party, and Colmar Brunton’s to a 29 seat one. CB would see David Parker out, and Reid Research would see him in. A 1% drop from CB is what you’d need to see Little out of Parliment, but the trend doesn’t yet suggest that, so Labour doesn’t need to panic just yet, but they do obviously need to change strategies now, whatever your opinion on how to grow the Left is.

        If Labour forms a minority or coalition government on lower than 22.5%, (ie. without Little) I wouldn’t be expected Jacinda to become PM. She would likely stay on as Deputy, probably with Grant Robertson being both PM and Finance Minister, but it’s not worth too much thought on that scenario unless Labour continues to flounder and the Greens and NZF continue to rise.

  19. expat 19

    “This poll, confusingly given both the coverage and Little’s reaction this morning, is good news”

    I’m not sure I agree but there you go.

    • The CB was a positive indicator. Unfortunately, it was accompanied by this evening’s Reid Research poll, which was a negative indicator overall, with the Greens having only a modest bump and Labour still languishing at 24%, a little higher than the CB predicted but not comfortably so. Given the mixed messages, I’m waiting for the next poll to come to a conclusion. We should have the next RM in a couple of weeks if they have a similar time frame to last month.

  20. Phil 20

    Overall, the trendline for polling since John Key has resigned has Labour and the Greens heading upwards when taken together, and National heading downwards.

    Yes, but… there’s a big difference between identifying a trend from historical polling observations and projecting trendlines to future polling.

    Or, to put it another way: The probability that poll-result-3 will be higher than poll-result-2 is pretty much always 50% (and, equally, the probability it’s lower will also be roughly 50%) regardless of whether or not poll-result-2 was higher than poll-result-1.

    • Sure, there’s uncertainty that trends will continue. But National shows no sign of arresting their own voter decline, so I’m not worried until they do.

  21. Andrew Little is alright.

    IMHO its the Labour Party and its supporters who are responsible for the low polling.

    The Greens and Nats have taken all of their oxygen and left them in a vacuum. Where they’re all madly squabbling.

    Labour was never unified behind Little as they should have been, and the voters can see/ sense this.

    It is Labour’s factions that have ruined it for them this election. Mainly the Progressives/ identity politics crowd.

    • halfcrown 21.1

      That is spot on, one of the best analysis I have seen comrade.

    • Labour has been pretty keen on circling the wagons around Little. I agree that caucus has continued to air its stupid dirty laundry in the media too often, and it makes him look bad, but that’s not actually the same thing as not supporting the leader. Your analysis would be well-suited to the 2014 election if you replaced the progressive part with the ABC crowd.

      Labour’s caucus and other senior leaders haven’t listened to its progressive faction at all, so I’m not sure how you can seriously say they caused their poor polling given their overtly centrist campaign strategy. The only remotely progressive thing Labour has done is agree to the MoU with the Greens, so this looks like more Redbaiter trolling as usual. Maybe you and your sock puppet should shove off, lol.

      • weka 21.2.1

        Unfortunately Nash was on the radio today throwing the MoU under a bus.

        • I expect that sort of rubbish from Nash. Hearing Little claiming that the Greens campaigning hard is “not growing the centre-left vote” (hint: the Greens don’t care about that “centre-” part) is what really irritates me, but I don’t expect anyone in Labour to throw aside the MoU as it’s the only thing giving them credibility right now, the real question will be what happens if they don’t form a government- do they decide not to do another MoU next time? Right now it seems like they might throw that away, which seems like a bit of a mistake on their part.

          • weka

            The thing that bothers me about Nash is that Little, as leader, is going through a tough couple of days and doesn’t need one of his MPs going off script. For Nash to come out with that stuff just makes Labour look like they were 3 years ago. MPs doing whatever they want, haphazard cohesion in caucus, no unified message.

            • Matthew Whitehead

              The dumb thing is, I’m not even sure he is going off-script. For all we know, Little wants to say the same stuff but is having Nash test it out first.

              • weka

                yes, it could really be that bad. In which case we’re probably well and truly fucked.

                The interviewer said they tried to speak to Ardern but Ardern said she would only give them soundbites not and interview so they went to Nash instead. I just don’t trust anything coming from the MSM at the moment, and that’s a bad sign.

              • McFlock

                yeah, testing is plausible.

                I suspect, from Labour’s perspective, they’re wanting to stem the flow, and the stability of the wider left vote is nice but doesn’t help Labour.

                Although the greens had a major win with all the kerfuffle about Turei, and the nats fucked up their response badly, Labour lost visibility. Not so much that the leaked votes to the greens any more than NZ1, but they just went down in profile. Now the media and tories (and tory media) are sniffing Labour blood when they thought it was the greens who would be bleeding, but the tories have leapt on the leadership line.

                But leave it a week and a couple of decent policy announcements, and it’ll blow over and Labour will recover a few points – I think this is probably the low point for them. Unless they panic.

                So let’s look at them throwing the MOU under the bus: Labour burn their coalition partner, throw any possible replacement to the nats away. That would be overkill.

                But have nash and jackson squeak a bit, try and get some separation from the greens without making the deal look ruptured (leaders come back in saying “quiet, silly boys, we love our green brethren and sistren”)… maybe Labour get a bit more visibility and can get back into the policy stride.

                In the meantime – the nats have no friends.

  22. expat 22

    its a bit more than a tough couple days and Nash has broad appeal.

    • weka 22.1

      Undermining your leader and party to get more votes is a very shortsighted approach, and Labour already tried this last time and it didn’t work.

      If I were to be really cynical I’d say Nash is hedging his bets. Either Labour get to form govt, or they don’t and he puts his hand up to be leader.

      • Anne 22.1.1

        If I were to be really cynical I’d say Nash is hedging his bets.

        Yes. But he’ll never be leader. Remember the membership and affiliates now play a significant role in leadership votes. The majority of them would not wear Nash. He’s too much of a stray bullet and has shown poor judgement in the past.

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