Great excitement in the Sunday papers over Winston Peters / NZF. Exhibit A:
Poll puts NZ First back in contention
A new poll has New Zealand First at 6 per cent of the vote – enough to see its leader, Winston Peters, return to Parliament and play a key role in deciding which party governs the country after the next general election.
Peters the kingmaker again
The country’s next prime minister could be decided by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.
A new poll has cast Peters as kingmaker. The 65-year-old left parliament after 30 years as an MP when he lost in Tauranga to Simon Bridges and New Zealand First failed to pass the 5% party list MP threshold in the last election.
The Horizon poll of almost 2000 intending voters shows the often-controversial MP could have the power to decide whether National’s John Key or Labour’s Phil Goff leads the country after the 2011 elections.
In 2008 New Zealand First captured just over 4% of the vote, but the Horizon poll, conducted from November 16-22, shows the party is back in the game with 6% support.
Don’t believe it? Me neither. Exhibit B continues:
In the same poll National recorded 34.7% support, Labour 28.3%, the Greens 7.9%, Act 2.6%, the Maori Party 1.2%, Jim Anderton’s Progressives 1.2%, United Future 0.2% and other parties 1.6%.
That is so far out of line with other poling it’s simply daft. So what’s going on? It’s the methodology. Horizon polls are not, despite the name, polls in the usual sense. They are an online survey of volunteer “panellists”. As I have written before, I don’t believe in the methodology or the figures that it produces.
Neither of the excitable pieces on this poll quoted above mention the unusual methodology or its highly variable validity, which I regard as pretty much a dereliction of journalistic duty. Horizon do attempt to provide an explanation for the variation between their results and other polls. Again from Exhibit B:
Most polls only measure decided votes but the Horizon poll also includes the all-important swing voters by asking undecided voters who they lean towards. The polling company says that makes its results more accurate and explains why the gap between National and Labour is so narrow.
Nice try, but no, sorry. After they got the predicted percentages on the Auckland mayoralty so wrong I have no hesitation at all in writing off these Horizon figures too. The gap between National and Labour is still large (depressingly). And we don’t need to worry about the nightmare of NZF back in parliament just yet.