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Nats push-polling on your dime?

Written By: - Date published: 1:19 am, July 1st, 2010 - 58 comments
Categories: melissa lee, parliamentary spending, polls - Tags:

A reader sent us these images of an addressed ‘survey’ he received in the mail from Melissa Lee. It makes interesting reading.

First, note the Parliamentary crest. These are your tax dollars at work. Probably the Nats using up the last of their taxpayer budget before the end of the fiscal year.

Second, this generic wording with a few changes relating to Lee and Mt Albert. So, I’m guessing this has been sent out around the country – if you’ve received something we’d be keen to see it.

Third, this is personally addressed and professionally delivered. This isn’t a cheap mail drop of generic material by volunteers. It was expensive. It would be interesting to know if this was a targeted drop based on what National’s databases tell them are the soft Nat/Lab voters or if it’s broader.

Note, the personal addressing means that National will use any reply you send to add to their dataset on you and use that information for electioneering.

Fourth, look at the questions. When you’re doing a real survey you have to be very careful that your questions don’t bias the answers. You don’t get useful information from a slanted questionnaire.

So, you don’t ask “Budget 2010 clearly demonstrates National’s commitment to reform the welfare state, support people into work, and grow the affordable  housing” or “Budget 2010 is firmly focused on lifting economic growth to create jobs, boost incomes, raise living standards, and provide world-class public services to help Kiwi families get ahead” if you’re really interested in the answers. This is push polling.

It’s not an attempt to gather our opinions to inform their policies. It’s a cynical attempt to influence our views while pretending to care what we think. It’s National propaganda masquerading as consultation. And they’re using our money to fund it.Thanks, Melissa. You’ve dumped your party in it again.

58 comments on “Nats push-polling on your dime?”

  1. Push-polling is common to surveys funded with Parliamentary money. Asking which party represents your views isn’t. And that should be enough to rule it out.

    • Lanthanide 1.1

      Although there is no “other” option. Clearly if you don’t fit one of their provided 7 boxes, you don’t have an opinion worth measuring.

  2. NZP 2

    Hate to say it, but I got a very similar piece from Labour before the last election (carefully coloured red). It’s a careful use of our parliamentary funds to get our opinions. Go the taxpayer dollar at work 😛

    • lprent 2.1

      But it wasn’t a questionnaire? Just information with a labour bias? That is the usual leaflet drop – mps newsletters.

      What gets me with this one is the sheer extravagance of it all. Not only is it personal mail delivery rather than dropped by volunteers, but because it is a questionnaire it also has a costly backend processing data if anyone responds.

      This goes well beyond the usual mps newsletters – which is the most common thing that the parliamentary crest pays for.

      Looks like national is deeply into rorting taxpayers to pay for their expensive campaigning.

      • TightyRighty 2.1.1

        deeply into rorting the taxpayers they sure are. The probably learned how to from the sensei’s of taxpayers rortage

        Zetetics third rule of politics comes to mind.

        • Pascal's bookie 2.1.1.1

          Andrew has already linked to that TR.
          He didn’t hat tip DPF either.
          Nor did he say whether or not he thinks that’s a push poll.
          Nor did DFF, as it happens.

          Go figure I guess.

          • TightyRighty 2.1.1.1.1

            yea, still no denial of the fact zetetics third rule should have been considered before going off half cocked. DPF at least allows people to make their own mind up. the issue as presented in the post was that parliamentary funds were being used by national (cue horror) to poll in the electorate. turns out labour, of course, have, are, and probably, will continue to do so. push polling is only a concern to the bias that appears in the results. hat tip zetetic and DPF.

            just to remind you; zetetics third rule: If you’re going to reduce your entire campaign to smearing your opponent, better make sure your own house is in order.

            • Pascal's bookie 2.1.1.1.1.1

              nah.

              . the issue as presented in the post was that parliamentary funds were being used by national (cue horror) to poll in the electorate.

              The point is the push polling. The post is mostly about the nature of the questions and the purpose of the leaflet. A clue to that can be found in the comment thread where that is what everyone is talking about.

              You clowns seem predisposed to think it’s all about the funding, and I guess that is because you spent so much time bleating and screaming, and getting all het up with fake outrage about that angle a wee while ago.

              At the time, IIRC, the left was saying that your outrage was fake and that the all parties used funds this way. Pointing out that we were right about that is a secondary point to the post.

              If you have another look at what dpf asked you to think about, it’s the wording of the questions. So he gets it, but decided not to analyze them himself, for reasons to be guessed at.

              On zets rule, you might want to think about your charge of hypocrisy here. For it to stick, you have to show that the leftie survey is as bad, and that you guys really were upset about the funding angle.

              So far it’s faily mcfail on both counts.

              • TightyRighty

                Right, so one point out of four mentions push polling, sure it was elaborated on more than the rest, but the other three are points of criticism none the less. you can’t say that this post is only about point four and not points one, two and three. why? because you didn’t write it. unless you are a sock puppet. funnily enough, i think points one, two and three are more important here, especially if we take the reading order of them as inferring the hierarchical level of nationals evilness.

                For zets third rule to stick, there are two conditions to be met. one, the campaign is nothing but smears. ergo, no real or effective policy, but lot’s of mud being slung. check. Two, to make sure your own house is order. well, criticising an mp for using parliamentary funds to poll the electorate and too extrapolate from the one piece of evidence of it that it is happening all across the country, when mp’s from your side (the losers) of the house are doing the same thing, flies right in the face of that. wouldn’t you agree?

                You probably wouldn’t agree. It will be your narrow minded focus on point four which you think will justify your increasingly fragile argument. so your cute accusations of failing, when you are wrong, makes you the fail master.

  3. Stanko 3

    I work in market research and this is quite beautiful, entirely cynical and completely party-political. It very obvious that by stating the wonderful things National are doing as the precursor question they are influencing responses. But it is the second part of each question that is the most effective. “Economic Issues you are interested in” does not include the economic issue that I am interested in e.g. social spending. It kind of removes that from the agenda for anyone who doesn’t have a mind of their own. Repeat regularly.

    This is definitely push polling and should not fall within the tax-payer funding gambit, regardless of which party is doing it.

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      Yeah, I thought the “issues you are interested in” question was a bit oddball too. ‘Science & Research’ is an option – what does that even mean?

      What about the way the rest of the boxes have Agree, then Somewhat Agree, and Disagree last. Or Enough, Not Enough, Too Much. Seems like even the ordering of the options is biased.

  4. illuminatedtiger 4

    Lee puts her foot in it yet again.

  5. ghostwhowalksnz 5

    Melissa Lee ? Who is Melissa Lee

  6. Polls are used because they fall within Parliamentary Services requirements for funding.

    It is poorly constructed and is heavily biased.

    I suspect that the data will never be collated.

  7. James Francis 7

    We received the same thing in Tawa, from Katrina Shanks.

    It’s a questionnaire that’s impossible to answer unless you’re an unquestioning adherent of National’s policies.

    My wife started filling in her copy before realising where it was headed. Her comment was that she was giving them her name and address for future use. She then screwed it up and hiffed it in the bin.

  8. just saying 8

    A few years back I used to receive something very similar from Katherine Rich, including question 9, while she was in opposition. It was clearly party propaganda, it would have been worded completely differently if it was designed to gauge my opinions.

  9. Mossaman 9

    Apart from the obvious problems of leading questions, ordering and stategic blindness to alternative (or even just plain neutral) framings of the issue, the survey’s also methodologically unsound at the most basic level.

    Where the response options say: Agree; Somewhat Agree; Disagree – there is a missing response option Somewhat Disagree – without that counterbalancing there will be a response bias towards agreement. probably want they want but it’s unsound and dishonest if intentional.

    I presume Curia put it together.

  10. Tiger Mountain 10

    John Carter MP (Northland) has done this for years, though usually with an enclosed reply envelope rather than self mailer. I encourage my friends to write “fuck off tory fucker’ on them and send them back.

    • The Voice of Reason 10.1

      Nice, Tiger. A mate in Whanganui tells me he did something very similar, though even less diplomatic, when the Chester Borrows version of the survey turned up a couple of days ago.

      • felix 10.1.1

        I’m struggling with “even less diplomatic”.

        Was it in the form of a pictogram perhaps?

    • toad 10.2

      Yep, I got something similar from Paula Bennett a while back. Come to think of it, it must have been about a year ago – also around the end of the financial year when the Nats presumably had some unspent Parliamentary Service money they needed to get rid of.

      Guess I can look forward to her smiling face in my letterbox again sometime soon.

      • Jilly Bee 10.2.1

        Yes, Toad her smiling face turned up in our letterbox this morning with the ‘survey’ – sheesh what a ghastly photo of John Key. Is it the botox or bad dental work.

    • Lew 10.3

      Alternatively: http://bash.org/?127039

      1. Save every Free Credit Card Offer you get, Put it in pile A
      2. Save every Free Coupon You get, put that in pile B
      3. Now open the credit card mail from pile A and find the Business
      Reply Mail Envelope.
      4. Take the coupons from pile B and stuff them in the envelope you hold
      in your hand.
      5. Drop the stuffed to the brim envelopes in your mail and walk away
      whistling.
      I have now received two phone calls from the credit card companies
      telling me that they received a stuffed envelope with coupons rather
      then my application. They informed me that it they are not pleased that
      they footed the bill for the crap I sent them. I reply with “It says
      Business Reply Mail” I’m suggesting coupons to you to ensure that your
      business is more successful. They promptly hang up on me.
      Now, I did this for about a month before it got boring, so I got an
      added idea! I added exactly 33 cents worth of pennies to the envelope
      so they paid EXTRA due to the weight. I got a call informing me about
      the money, I said it was a mistake and I demanded my change back. After
      yelling at the clerk and then to the supervisor they agreed to my
      demands and cut me a check for the money. I hold in my hand at this
      very moment a check from GTE Visa for exactly 33 cents.

      On second thoughts, for a political party this would probably be interpreted as a donation.

      L

    • Graham 10.4

      Nice to see a calm, intelligent, well-thought-out and reasoned response there …

  11. yeshe 11

    I have received the exact same ‘survey’ with Lockwood Smith’s face on it and sent from Parliament … now torn ‘twixt advice to bin it or accept Tiger Mountain’s tempting encouragement above …

  12. Bright Red 12

    At least it doesn’t say [insert MP’s name here]

  13. ianmac 13

    A couple of years ago I received a questionnaire in the mail with local Nat MP Mr King’s face on it. I wrote a letter to the paper pointing out the bias. (Can’t remember the detail.) Mr King replied saying that it was something that head office had run and was nothing to do with him personally. Huh?

  14. BLiP 14

    National Ltdâ„¢ don’t send any mail me : )

  15. Santi 15

    I am surprised Farrar’s Curia is not involved.

  16. butnahyeahnah 16

    Two identical ‘manufactured consent forms’ in the mail today (one addressed to me one to the missus).
    This time though it has Paul Quinn’s name and photo on it. (I in Lower Hutt).

    If you hold the photo of Donkey up to the light, you will see the words”Drugs, Gangs and Youth Crime” – Right where I believe Hon.Keys policies are designed to take us to; new and worse, levels of them all.

  17. Tui 17

    Santi: why so ? It might be ..

  18. Andrew 18

    different to this Labour one how?

    • Ari 18.1

      Looks to me like the only difference is asking about likely party support. Looks like this is a case of Everybody Needs to Stop Itâ„¢.

    • burt 18.2

      Andrew

      It is different because Labour are doing it. The rules are confusing and others were doing it too so It’s OK when Labour do it. National on the other hand – ohhhh the outrage – they used a blue logo.

    • The Voice of Reason 18.3

      Different because of the nature of the questions. The Hodgson one has neutral questions apparently intended to get a genuine snapshot of his electorate’s views. The National one has loaded questions and appears designed not for feedback, but to set an agenda.

      Ie: the difference between the simple ‘do you prefer candidate A or candidate B’ or the manipulative ‘if you knew candidate B shagged goats, would that influence your vote?’.

      • Ari 18.3.1

        I don’t know. The consistent emphasis on positive outlooks in that survey does make it look just a little pushy. It’s certainly closer to a real survey than the obvious push-polling that this post deals with, but I think it may well dip a toe across the line.

  19. Rex Widerstrom 19

    Push polling? Doesn’t seem strong enough to fit the description to me. Push polling generally states a negative about the opponent (named or unnamed) (cf TVoR’s “if you knew candidate B shagged goats…” example above).

    What it does smell of to me is a cheap focus group exercise, running NACT’s spin past a number of people and seeing if the lines make them choke. The “which party” question then helps them discern whether the lines are resonating with their base, opposition supporters etc.

    The lack of a “swinging voter” or “other” option in that question – and a follow-up question asking about strength of support for the previous option – renders the data considerably less useful however.

    That lack of professionalism makes it seem like the work of some keen National acolyte who thinks they understand political communication but is in fact a poorly trained amateur with an unrealistic view of their own ability – i.e. Melissa Lee – rather than someone like Curia, who’d know what they were doing.

    • Bright Red 19.1

      looks like another Farrar special to me. He can’t help himself, his polls never ask neutral questions. I think it’s more about giving his clients the answers they want.

      his quick reply post suggests his involvement.

      • Rex Widerstrom 19.1.1

        giving his clients the answers they want

        That’s all very well for nutjobs like the SST. First (and most importantly) they actually believe their stuff. Second, they’re so convinced of their own righteousness they don’t want to hear anything that challenges their worldview.

        National, on the other hand, would surely want to know what people were actually thinking, so they could adapt themselves to fit (with no reference to principle)?

        I remember Winston describing the Nat’s philosophy with a quote he borrowed which went something like “There go my people. I am their Leader!! I must follow them to see where it is they want me to lead them”.

        That would require better data than this survey would provide. To me, it’s redolent of the smugness of Melissa Lee, whose mis-steps coupled with a determination to do things her way led, lets us not forget, to her abandonment by Key after the Mt Albert by-election.

        Mind you, I accept your theory could equally be correct, BR.

        • Pascal's bookie 19.1.1.1

          I agree that nat will have someone (presumably dpf) doing that sort of polling, and that this isn’t that sort of polling.

          But we know the Nats are doing this poll, so that just means they are doing it for some other reason than getting useful results.

          So if I had to guess, I’d say it was along the lines of finding out who is amenable to responding to their literature, who wants to know more, and if so about what. If the last question isn’t filled in they don’t bother looking at the rest. Collect the email addresses and chuck em on a mailing list for more targeted business that doesn’t have the parliamentary stamp.

          On that basis I’d fill it in as a middle of the roader, bit more on health and education please, more roads, bash the bennies, I’m a bit worried about crims etc, and see what turns up in my inbox.

  20. schrodigerscat 20

    While I don’t appreciate the fact that you and I are paying for this, I hope people return them filled in in such a way that they are misleading or meaningless.

    In this age of data warehousing I am not so keen on recording my opinion in this way though, and can understand anyone being reluctant.

  21. Us old wrinklies have recently recieved a letter from Key telling us about the tax changes ect, However it is not just about the tax/super changes but a whole page of National propoganda. Down right electioneering .

    • ianmac 21.1

      Yes Pinkpostmån. Agreed. It is å wåy of being present in the eyes of the people. Wonder if the questionnaire serves the same purpose regardless of its content?

    • TightyRighty 21.2

      sheesh remember the pledge card you old wrinkly?

      anti-spam: slower

  22. roger nome 22

    [come on roger, you’re better than that — r0b]

  23. True Blue 23

    Who’s money was used on the “TAX BUS”

  24. Pascal's bookie 24

    heh, It’s funny when dpf points to a post but doesn’t tell them what to think about it.

    ‘hur’ and ‘dur’.

    ‘fargle?’

    ‘narfin splurt!!one1″

  25. si 25

    Compared to the waste of money that was the axe the tax bus (which right now appears to be the outrage bus onto which you are all boarding), I dont really see a huge drama. Pledge cards anyone?

  26. chris73 26

    Just to avoid any confusion, if any of those evil, baby-eating tories come on here…if a Labour MP sends one out thats ok and a sign of a robust democracy at work but if a National MP sends one out its a sign that the four horsemen of the apocalypse are just around the corner

  27. schrodigerscat 27

    Given that the government obviously has no conflicts of interests should they be answering the questions? http://norightturn.blogspot.com/2010/07/questions-government-will-not-answer.html

    0 yes 0 no 0 maybe

    Since Labour and National both send out stupid pointless polls, where is the McGillicuddy Serious Party when you need them?

    0 Hawaii 0 jet-setting 0 curling in Scotland

    Mirror mirror on the wall, what a hunk Gerry is, right?

    0 wooo 0 what are you thinking? 0 Lockwood rings my bells 0 sexy coal!.

    I think we need a better poll to give the politicians some inkling how to behave. I am sure they once knew.

  28. Maggie 28

    I received same thing from Paul Quinn. Unfortunately the dog ate it before I could respond. The vet reckons dog will be fine once her stomach is pumped, but she should be deterred from eating garbage in future.

  29. Maggie 29

    I love the way Tories react when their sneaky ways are exposed.

    Their only defence is: “Labour did it, too”

    I thought they reckoned their lot was better and had higher standard?

    • TightyRighty 29.1

      what sneaky ways? it’s hardly sneaky to use the parliamentary crest, and mail it out. This is a non-issue, as all parties do it. it’s not “labour did it,too”, it’s “labour is doing it, so what?”

      it’s a weak attempt at a smear that breaks zets third rule of politics

  30. Maggie 30

    So there’s a difference between “Labour did it, too” and “Labour is doing it, so what?”? The mind boggles…..

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