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Mixed polls

Written By: - Date published: 9:44 am, November 9th, 2011 - 73 comments
Categories: polls - Tags: ,

As usual the polls are sending us mixed messages.

The Fairfax Research International poll looks disastrous for Labour on 25.9%, while National is in a strong position on 52.5%.

I’m going to do something I believe that I’ve never done before (check my record!) and call that poll a rogue. Research International is a new poll, with no history in previous elections to judge them by. Like the Horizon polls (which currently puts National on 35.7% and Labour up 4.1% to 30.4%) the results of this poll are so far out of line with others that I don’t believe them.

In contrast a Herald poll today puts National on 43%, Labour on 31% and the Greens on 14%.  That’s more like it!  This “Mood of the Nation” poll canvassed  522 voters on the streets throughout the country. It is probably less “scientific” than the mainstream polls in terms of weighted demographics, but on the other hand it doesn’t have their systematic bias towards landline owners.  I also hear rumours (of the unofficial variety) that Labour’s internal polling is showing a move towards Labour, not away.

So make of that if you will!  But in the mean time don’t get too excited about the unconfirmed Research International poll.  Laugh at me if I turn out to be wrong, but I’m calling it rogue.

73 comments on “Mixed polls ”

  1. ak 1

    Cripes! Watch this poll get buried at the speed of light….stomach-churning news for the Nacthorrhoids.

  2. gingercrush 2

    Didn’t Labour’s own internal polling show Labour ahead prior to the 2008 election? I’m not sure their polling counts for much.

    I don’t see much change in the polls and that can only be a good thing for National. 2011 will be a low turnout. Its a given. Can it be as low as 2002? Quite possibly if not probable. A low turnout will hurt Labour and the Greens more than it will hurt National. I’m still convinced National will be at or around 50%. I’m calling 50.5%. I do think the polls are overestimating the Greens and thus I’m predicting 8-9% for them. Labour will fall under 30%. Also the enrolment of 18-24 year olds is terrible.

    The electoral commission needs to come up with a new way of enrolling people because the system at the moment is broken meaning too many people of any age are not enrolled to vote.

    • Didn’t Labour’s own internal polling show Labour ahead prior to the 2008 election?
      Nah gc.  Do you have any proof?

        • mickysavage

          It said the Labour-Green vote was ahead of National-ACT not Labour ahead of National.

        • lprent

          Gimme me a sec and I will plug in the table.

          Official results from http://elections.org.nz

          Total Votes Counted:






          National Party
          Labour Party
          Green Party

          ACT New Zealand

          Māori Party
          Jim Anderton’s Progressive
          United Future

          New Zealand First Party

          The Bill and Ben Party
          Kiwi Party
          Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party

          b>New Zealand Pacific Party

          Family Party
          Democrats for Social Credit
          Workers Party
          RAM – Residents Action Movement

          The Republic of New Zealand Party


          Now Roy Morgan was – according to your link…

          On the eve of the 2008 Election the New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows National Party support at 42% (down 1%), a 7.5% lead over the Labour Party at 34.5% (up 2.5%).

          Support for the Greens 10% (down 1.5%) is near its record high of 11.5%, while support for NZ First is 4.5% (unchanged), ACT NZ 4% (up 0.5%), the Maori Party 2.5% (unchanged), United Future 1% (up 0.5%) and Others and Independents 1.5% (down 0.5%).

          Error is usually a 2-3% depending on what confidence level you want and sample size. Call it 3%…

          National actual 45.0% cf 42%
          Labour actual 34.5% cf 34%
          Green actual 6.7% cf 10%
          NZF actual 4.0% cf 4.5%
          Act actual 3.6% cf 4.0%
          Maori actual 2.4% cf 2.5%

          Everything else is well below the margin of error. The short answer is that the Roy Morgan poll is usually pretty accurate within reasonable margins of error. That is why I tend to rely on it far more than the other ones.

          I’m pretty convinced that the other crappy polls are more interested in headlines than accuracy. The morgan poll isn’t done for news organisations and publishes all its figures.

    • Colonial Viper 2.2

      I’m still convinced National will be at or around 50%. I’m calling 50.5%. I do think the polls are overestimating the Greens and thus I’m predicting 8-9% for them. Labour will fall under 30%.

      I don’t believe that National has any chance of getting 50% or over, unless turn out is very very poor e.g. under 78%.

  3. In Vino Veritas 3

    Unfortunately Anthony, you have no choice but to label it rogue.

  4. insider 4

    Eddie heard those rumours too about a swing to Labour. They were really well placed ones too. They are not happening. It would be fascinating to be inside a party going through this kind of thing. The pressure must be immense as must the backstabbing. Anyone been through such a thing? We don’t have much of a tradition of score settling memoirs in NZ so no doubt everyone will be very polite as the blood is cleaned from the carpets.

    On the bright side at least you didn’t call it a rouge poll. 🙂

    • The Voice of Reason 4.1

      Nope, had to wait for interesting at 10.40 for rogue to go rouge.
      As for what is happening inside Labour, I’m disappointed you haven’t lived up to your name and been able to provide us with the facts. I’d even settle for the gossip, if you thought you had some. But instead, you mindlessly propose that there must be backstabbing going on, when nothing could be further from the truth. Labour isn’t ACT, or indeed National, who themselves have a long history of slipping in the stiletto when things aren’t going their way. eg. the question from my youth; ‘who stabbed Jack in the back?’.

  5. Gosman 5

    A ‘Mood of the nation’ poll conducted on the street is somehow more reflective than a properly conducted poll is it?

    You keep telling yourself that. I’m sure it will make you feel better.

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      How do you know it was properly conducted?

      This company has no track record.

      • Matthew Hooton 5.1.1

        I’m not sure it has no track record. I think it is this company: http://www.tnsglobal.com/global/alm/new-zealand/research-international-nz.aspx
        If so, TNS used to poll for TV3 through the 2000s and had quite a good track record I think.

        • fmacskasy

          Have to go with the others, Mathew, I’ve never heard of TNS Research International New Zealand either. (And I’m pretty much a political ‘junkie’ like everyone else here… )

          • Matthew Hooton

            You can’t be much of a political junkie if you haven’t heard of TNS Research International. They were widely regarded as having the most accurate polls in both 2005 and 2008. See, for example, this discussion: http://liberation.typepad.com/liberation/2010/02/key-to-victory-opinion-polls-and-prediction-markets.html

            • fmacskasy

              I’m trying to wean myself…

              As for TNS; a Google search using the parameters “TNS Research International New Zealand” yielded no local results for NZ (except a couple for the company itself) in the first two pages. It wasn’t until the third page that the first result (Curiablog) came up.

              • zeitung

                TNS has been in NZ for a long time (my ex-flamate worked for them, and I lived just across from their head office in Greenlane, Auckland). But its been bought/sold/merged a couple of times during its history and had its named changed quite a lot. Used to be called NFO, used to be called CM, then it merged with Conversa. I’m not sure its current size but during the late 90’s and early 2000’s it was probably a little smaller than Nielsens, but larger than Colmar.

    • Anne 5.2

      Research agency political polls conducted on the phone to landline owners only is reflective of the mood of the general population, including the 1/2 million or so voters who don’t have landlines?

      You keep telling yourself that. I’m sure it will make you feel better.

      • interesting 5.2.1

        So Anne…

        When (in 1999 and 2002 and even 2005) the “evil polls that dont represent all NZer’s” were saying that Labour was going to win or ahead in the polls….were they not representative of all NZer’s then? Were they evil then?

        Or is it just that when Labour and the left are losing that suddenly the pollsters are wrong and dont represent everyone?

        I find the argument that polls are incorrect and unrepresentative of all NZer’s just a lame excuse that gets said by BOTH parties when they are behind in the polls.

        Face the facts….Labour are currently doing poorly in the polls and the Nats are doing well.

        It is all part of the electoral cycle.

        Trying to claim that certain pollsters that have a proven record (or match other polls that have proven records) as being wrong and unrepresentative is a stupid road to go down.

        I think a TV3 poll comes out tonight….lets see what it says….and please dont start claiming it is wrong because it doesn’t represent all people IF the result doesnt go your way anne.

        • Lanthanide

          interesting, have a look at the penetration of cell phones between 1999 and 2005 and compare it to now.

          Also have a look at the penetration of land-lines. Don’t forget to throw in naked broadband where you no longer need a landline phone in order to get internet access…

          • Gosman

            The trouble is that the landline versus mobile phone issue flows both ways. I know of a number of wealthier people who don’t bother with landlines as Mobile technology, (especially with Smart phones), gives them all the functionality they want.

            Also the point about landlines seems to be based on the idea that people are abandoning landlines in favour of mobiles because of cost/convenience however how does this stack up with home internet connections which I presume still require landlines and is growing as far as I am aware?

            • Lanthanide

              I already addressed home internet connections when I said this:

              “Don’t forget to throw in naked broadband where you no longer need a landline phone in order to get internet access…”

            • McFlock

              as Lanth said, but also don’t forget that not every home has broadband. The cost minimisation bonus of cellphones is that they can be prepay refreshed once a year and you can ditch contract services like landline, broadband and SkyTV.
              I will be really interested to see whether the economy has significantly skewed landline data.

        • Anne

          @ interesting: Go back to Anthony Robin’s (a scientist I believe) first sentence… “the polls are sending mixed messages”. That seems to be what is happening. Throwing past polls into the mix might look impressive, but they mean very little because they were in a different time in different circumstances. Even so, most of these polls have the same basic problem… they are landline polls so it goes without saying they will have a bias towards the older and more conservative voter.

          And if you’re going to accuse Labour and the left of claiming “polls are wrong because they’re losing” then have a good look at yourself… refusing to recognise that landline conducted polls do tend to be skewed towards National and the right!

          • Pete George

            The polls are definitely sending mixed messages, but because they are fluctuating messages rather than trend messages they don’t tell a great story for Labour.

            It’s still a long way from election day – especially with the current degree of variability 5-10% moves for the two main parties are not out of the question.

            But Labour need to stop acting like they are getting desperate.

            • McFlock

              Um – I don’t get that impression from Labour? What are the “desperate” moves to which you refer: actually releasing policy, or pointing out the government’s broken promises?

            • Draco T Bastard

              But Labour need to stop acting like they are getting desperate.

              They’re not, National is and, I suspect, UF.

        • DS

          Actually, TV1’s last poll before the 2005 election had National ahead by 7%. No-one ever commented on it afterwards for some reason…

  6. interesting 6

    I am sorry Anthony…but to claim a poll as rouge just because it doesnt suit you when they have had other polls out for months now from this same company (some of which have been trumpeted by the left as “showing Labour closing the gap”) and then claim an unscientific poll as correct because the result makes you feel better is smacking of desperation!

    • r0b 6.1

      You’re right, Research International has been around for longer than I thought (I don’t pay too much attention to individual polling companies).  The post could stand as worded, because as far as I know they are still new in NZ political polling with no record in previous elections, but I’ll make a minor adjustment to clarify.

      As for the Mood of the Nation poll, I’m not convinced at this point that it is any more or less scientific than the mainstream polls.  As noted in the post it doesn’t do weighted demographic matching.  But it also doesn’t have a built in bias to landline owners.

      How significant is the landline bias?  In past elections it hasn’t proved very significant.  Weighted averages (polls of polls) have been highly predictive.  But on the other hand the non-landline demographic is growing every year, so the bias is growing every year.  One election or other it’s going to be significant.  No one will know until after the event (and then pollsters will need to change their methods).

      So – is the Mood of the Nation more or less accurate than the mainstream polls?  No way to know until after the election.  If that is “smacking of desperation” to you then so be it. 

      • Gosman 6.1.1

        R0b where is the evidence that lower demographics have abandoned landlines at a greater rate than any other demographic?

        The only stats around this I have seen were some figures that Martyn Bradbury used sourced from here that LPrent put forward based on his experience in setting up an automated phone polling application for Labour. As far as I’m concerned that is hardly persuassive that it makes a blind bit of difference.

        The other thing is the argument about landlines doesn’t seem to stack up if you tie it in with the use of landlines for internet access and the increase in internet usage even amongst those in the lower demographic groups.

        • r0b

          R0b where is the evidence that lower demographics have abandoned landlines at a greater rate than any other demographic?

          I’m sure I could find you such evidence Gosman, but it doesn’t seem like a good use of my time.  It’s pretty much a given though, that those who are young and mobile, and those with the least money, are least likely to pay a high monthly cost for an unnecessary landline, wouldn’t you think?

          • Gosman

            It’s pretty much a given by whom R0b?

            The only people bemoaning the polling methodologies that I see are left wingers who don’t like the latest poll results and claim that they don’t reflect reality.

            The right would be have just as many reasons to be concerned about these flawed methodologies as it means they aren’t getting a true reflection of the will of the population and can generate complacency.Unless of course your argument is that the entire right wing is filled with imbeciles.

            • KJT

              “Unless of course your argument is that the entire right wing is filled with imbeciles”.

              You said it.

              • “Unless of course your argument is that the entire right wing is filled with imbeciles”.

                That sounds accurate to me.

                • Gosman

                  You do realise the consequence of that view if the Left get beaten later this month don’t you?

                  It means that the left were bettered by a bunch of imbeciles. How embarrassing is that?

        • Puddleglum

          I think young people are less likely to have landlines and they have cellphones which they now use primarily for texting. If I’m right, the effect will cut both ways.

          I seem to remember from previous Fairfax polls that the demographic breakdown showed that younger people tend to vote Labour/Greens more than older demographics (the page illustrating the breakdowns seems to have vanished).

          But, younger people are also far more likely not to vote/not to be enrolled. 

      • interesting 6.1.2

        Thanks for your considered response Anthony. Appreciate it.

    • ianmac 6.2

      Put rouge on your cheek. Examine a rogue poll. (Or am I too late?)

  7. The two polls have the greens at 12 and 14%????

    That is crazy there is no way Labour will be on 31% and the greens on 14% unless we have our version of the “October Surprise”

  8. Akldnut 8

    Political scientist Raymond Miller said apathy and a low voter turnout were a possibility.

    “If there is a close contest voters are more inclined to turn up. I think there is always a danger of apathy where there is a one-sided contest.

    This is a veiw I’ve held for the past three years.

    • ianmac 8.1

      Indeed. Why else would the Right and MSM make such a meal of pushing the lop-sided polls?

    • In Vino Veritas 8.2

      There won’t be much apathy in South Auckland when Labour or the Unions provide buses and a free big mac to their faithful…….

      • Akldnut 8.2.1

        Moron that has nothing to do with apathy – that is extra incentative.
        just like um….North of $50.00 worked for National last election.
        Except if Labour or the unions did what you suggest then they would actually get the incentive on offer.

  9. ianmac 9

    The Herald has quoted The Standard and Anthony’s comment as part of their Election Update. Amazing! http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10764749 @ 10:10am

    • fender 9.1

      Awesome! I’d love every voter in the country to spend time reading the debate and soak up the information available on The Standard.

  10. I would be interested in seeing any research into whether a poll result changes or cements peoples choice for who they’re going to vote for?

  11. Faversham 11

    Time for a song?

    This is “the year 2525”

    25 being Labour’s % of the vote and 25 being the average IQ of its few remaining supporters.

    • Roflcopter 11.1

      2525 might be when Labour get back in at this rate.

    • Puddleglum 11.2

      That was a dystopian song, Faversham so, given the prospects of National being re-elected, quite appropriate.

      Also, I thought that one of the criticisms of Labour was that it was too intellectual and supported by too many academics and abstract, ivory tower, waffly types.

      Whatever you might say about such people, their IQ’s are not usually sub-normal. 

      • McFlock 11.2.1

        We’re those fiendishly stupid highly educated angst-ridden single-minded zealot liberal elites who look patronisingly at the workers we pretend to be, dontcha know.

  12. It’s worth having a read of the wikipedia entry on voter turnout. 

    One point made is that turnout is higher where parties are based on clear class, ethnic or religious lines. Where so-called ‘big tent’ parties are the norm, turnout is lower.

    I guess this is because of people’s sense, in the former case, of being potentially represented by parties that have a specific and clear alignment. 

  13. tsmithfield 13

    Here is another poll.

    It looks like even many Labour and Greens supporters love National’s welfare policy soooo much that they are thinking about voting National this time around. Considering that Labour’s welfare policy is the polar opposite, it is quite predictable what effect Labour’s policies will be having on its popularity. i.e rats deserting the sinking ship.

  14. Dan hansen 14

    Those damn ‘rogue’ polls must becoming a real pain in the &&^&^ to the left….

  15. Doug 16

    The Polls must be close to being correct; according to Three News Phil will be able to hold his meetings in a Phone booth, the phone is off the hook.

  16. Georgy 17

    For an indication of lower demographics abandoning landlines at a greater rate than any other demographic check with schools. there was a time not too long ago when 98% of families had a phone. Today many families in lower demographics do not have phones which cause quite a problem for schools, and along with that, the families in this category often do not keep their cellphones topped up.

  17. prism 18

    I notice the ‘smart’ pundit Tracey Watkins with front page The Press coverage talking National up in a knowing way! One wonders, one does, whether the intellectual activity would be any stronger if she was a racing commentator.

    Will the little Labour mount prove to be a good runner making a strong finish and winning by a nose? Or will the favourite, a rangy beast usually fast out from the gates but with shows of temperament, be able to hold his pace to the end?

  18. queenstfarmer 19

    But in the mean time don’t get too excited about the unconfirmed Research International poll. Laugh at me if I turn out to be wrong, but I’m calling it rogue.

    I don’t know exactly what you mean by an “unconfirmed” poll, but tonight’s Colmar Brunton poll puts Labour below 30% as well, which would appear to “confirm” the Research International poll:

    ONE News political editor Guyon Espiner said that while both the major parties were shedding some support to the minor parties, it is far worse for Labour.

    “Labour is dropping into the danger zone where it is hard to see how they can rescue this one,” he said.

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