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Polity: Poll of polls update

Written By: - Date published: 7:30 am, July 22nd, 2014 - 30 comments
Categories: election 2014, polls - Tags:

polity_square_for_lynnReposted from Polity.

The poll of polls is up to date, including all four of this week’s snapshots. As readers know, I don’t like to sugarcoat this stuff, so to start with the obvious: The picture ain’t pretty if you want positive change in New Zealand. If there election where held today, the result would be a clear, comprehensive win for National, governing alone.

The full details are over at the poll of polls page, but below is the snapshot I did for Labour’s Congress of the two potential blocs of support, pitting [National | ACT | UF | Maori | Conservative] for the status quo against [Labour | Greens | NZF | InternetMANA], who represent change.

The chart shows the overall strength of the status quo bloc at around 54%, and the strength of the change bloc a little under 46%. Again, the picture ain’t pretty.

Two points, however, are worth noting:

  1. Around 1.5% of the status quo bloc vote will likely be wasted, cast for the Conservatives who are now unlikely to get a seat having had a WEG (Winston Electorate Gambit)1 driven between them and National. That brings the bloc-level gap down from over 8 points to around 7.
  2. Any gains Labour / others can make off National (who are soaring at usually unsustainably high levels right now) count double in terms of the gap. For example, 3% of the public switching from National to any of Labour/Greens/NZF/InternetMANA would shrink the gap from 7% to 1%.

This means the change bloc needs about a 4% gain vs the status quo bloc between now and election day to become viable. 2

Can the debates deliver 4%? Unlikely but possible, as many voters get their first prolonged exposure to David Cunliffe on his own terms. Key is an excellent debater, and will be tough to beat. But a draw in the debates serves the left’s purposes OK here, because it would showcase two potential Prime Ministers on equal footing.

Can a ground game deliver 4%? Not fully, but it can help. Ceiling estimates of gains-via-the-ground are around 2%, and because those gains will often come via mobilizing non-voters, rather than pinching someone else’s previous supporters, those gains only count single.

Does National have a history of losing 4% in recent campaigns? Yes – about 6 points, actually, in the final three months in 2008 and 2011. Now of course that does not guarantee a threepeat of the same phenomenon. But it does suggest National’s crew are not the best street-level campaigners out there.

The change bloc goes into the campaign proper as heavy underdogs. We absolutely know that. But all the headlines focusing only on Labour, one of four parties in the bloc, mask a broader situation where possible victory is four points away.



  1. First!
  2. I rounded it up to 4% to cover off the slight party vote quotient distortions caused by the ACT and UF deals.


See also


30 comments on “Polity: Poll of polls update”

  1. swordfish 1

    I’m just a day away from posting on something quite similar on Sub-Zero Politics (just a touch of blog-whoring, there). So, I’ll keep my powder dry.

    But I will say I both agree and somewhat disagree with Rob on various aspects, here.

    I’d suggest, for a start, that the Left Bloc is in a significantly better situation in terms of polling now than we were in 2011. You wouldn’t know it, of course, from some of the more outrageous hyperbolic rhetoric indulged in by various leading political journos over recent weeks. Combined with the relentless attacks on Cunliffe (bordering at times on outright character assassination) and the deliberate sense of crisis that this invokes, I think your average voter could be forgiven for assuming the Left is in a far weaker position than we were in the lead-up to the last Election. (Chris Trotter’s “Labour are bereft of hope” comment to the MSM probably doesn’t help much either). Nothing, in fact, could be further from the truth. There is no doubt that the Left are trailing, let’s be clear about that, but the gap is narrower than most would assume. There needs to be much less emphasis on the fact that Labour is in the 20s (almost the entire focus of the MSM) and much more emphasis on where the respective Left and Right Blocs are in the polls.

    “Does National have a history of losing 4% in recent campaigns ? Yes – about 6 points, actually, in the final three months in 2008 and 2011.”

    By “6 points”, Rob is presumably averaging out 08 and 11. According to my figures:

    2011 National Party Monthly Poll Averages
    August 54% (7 points higher than in Nov 2011 Election)
    September 55% (8 points higher)
    October 54% (7 points higher)
    So, a bigger drop for National in 2011 than just 6 percentage points.

    2008 National Party Monthly Poll Averages
    August 49% (4 points higher)
    September 49% (4 points higher)
    Early-Mid October 48% (3 points higher)
    So, somewhat less than a 6-point drop.

    More importantly, though, support for the Right Bloc as a whole was also down at both Elections relative its support 2 or 3 months out – down 4-6 points in 2011 (depending on which month you’re looking at) and down 2-3 points in 2008.

    I’m not sure, though, that I agree with Rob’s implicit suggestion that National’s fall over the final few months was a consequence of “National’s crew (not being)…the best street-level campaigners out there.” I think there are better theories than that. And they’re ones that make a repeat of these nose-dives in support much more likely (but, like I say, I’ll keep my powder dry for now).

    • Ad 1.1

      Don’t be put out Swordfish – it’s great to have two competent analysts on the good team.

      • swordfish 1.1.1

        Cheers, Ad. I certainly wouldn’t say I’m put out, though. I’ve got a lot of respect for Rob’s succinct analyses. (He, I and Jon Johansson were in the same year at Vic Pol Sci, incidently. We did many of the same papers. Always knew both Jon and Rob would do well). But I think it is important to have a bit of critical dialogue going on. After all, it’s what The Standard’s all about !

    • @Swordfish. Thanks for the comment. My “dropping 6 points” calcs are based on the average of the polls takes around 90 days prior to election day, not on the monthly averages in each of the final three months as you have presented here. That is why we get to different answers, I think. My calcs are here: http://polity.co.nz/content/national-dropped-6-2008-2011-campaigns-0

    • Tamati 1.3

      You can’t establish a trend using two data points. Anyone who really thinks they can estimate poll ‘bias’ are only kidding themselves. It’s entirely likely the pollsters have already changed their methodology to reflect the errors in 2011.

      • McFlock 1.3.1

        well, assuming they did the same process in 2011 to reflect the errors in 2008, there wasn’t much success there.

        I think it’s foolish to nmake a bold claim that “the nats will drop x%”, but two collections of three datapoints being consistently off would seem to indicate a bias in the polls.

        When a comparable shift from right to combined-leftish based on current poll results would make the election too close to call, however, it’s probably fairly reasonable to argue that the election is by no means as much of a shoe-in as the current polls suggest.

      • swordfish 1.3.2

        @ Tamati

        Who said anything about poll bias ?

        And if the pollsters can’t be sure that the discrepancy was down to poll bias, then why would they change their methodology ?

        Like I say, there are more useful theories for explaining the two consecutive nose-dives experienced by National and the Right.

  2. “As readers know, I don’t like to sugarcoat this stuff…”

    Only to the minimum, credibility-preserving extent necessary, it seems. For example, you (rightly) exclude the so-called Conservatives arguing that their projected 1.5% of the vote will be a wasted vote for the “status quo” bloc.

    But what’s the basis for your assumption that New Zealand First is going to make it back into Parliament? Your own model shows that party is sitting on 4.3% of the vote.

    Is it because “It’s a mathematical certainty that Winston’s vote will ramp up during the campaign, because it did in 2011 (even though it didn’t really do that in 2008 or 2005)?”

    • swordfish 2.1

      “But what’s the basis for your assumption that New Zealand First is going to make it back into Parliament ? Your own model shows that party is sitting on 4.3% of the vote…Is it because “It’s a mathematical certainty that Winston’s vote will ramp up during the campaign, because it did in 2011 (even though it didn’t really do that in 2008 or 2005)?”

      I partly agree with you in that 2011 was the only recent Election where NZ First did spectacularly better than its polling had indicated (despite widespread claims to the contrary). But the fact remains that in 2008 it also received more than its pre-Election polling would have had us believe – albeit a rather more modest discrepancy than 3 years later. NZ First’s monthly poll average was usually 3% in 2008 (ie for most months, 4% in a minority of months). They ended up above 4%, so we’re talking an increase of 1 point or so.

      This year, Peters’ Party has been averaging anywhere between 4-6 points (depending on which month you’re looking at) so, overall, quite a bit better than in 08 when they fell short of the 5% hurdle. I certainly think (like Rob) that it’s far more likely than not that NZ First will top the 5% mark. Whether it’ll get above 6% is an entirely different matter.

      • Liam Hehir 2.1.1

        Fair enough – although so did the ACT Party (whose improvement never seems to be priced into the equation in the same way).

        But I can’t buy into the certainty that Winston will always come through because there have been two occasuibs when his party didn’t cross the threshold – and there is the fact that NZF did worse than most polling had it in 2005.

        I believe the late breaking for Winston in 2011 really comes down to three things:. 1) the unpopular asset sales programme; 2) John Key getting badly rattled about the teapot tapes and 3) the bad decision of Vote for Change to make the referendum all about Winston Peters (this being the most minor of the factors).

        I’m not saying nothing of a similar nature emerging in 2014, but it’s a not a given anyway. It’s certainly a big, unwarranted assumption.

        • Shrubbery

          The problem with Winston Peters is that he just has to get on tv and repeat phrases like “too much immigration” or “hard-working New Zealanders” or “common-sense policies” and he gets to 5% almost by magic. (That worked for Peter Dunne once too – he used the word sensible every third sentence, and ping! 6%!)

    • blue leopard 2.2

      Gavin White from UMR analysed the polls and concluded NZ First is the party that is underestimated the most by the polls


      Perhaps that is why Salmond assumes they will get back in again.

  3. Lanthanide 3

    I pointed out iPredict’s current percentages yesterday, will do so again today to get more airtime.

    National is at 44%, Labour at 31%, Greens at 11% and Other parties at 14%, NZFirst in turn is at 5.2%, Conservatives 3.5% and IMP at 2.2%

    Given iPredict is largely seen as being biased towards the right, I think this is a very interesting result as it actually shows the ‘change bloc’ ahead of the ‘status quo bloc’.

    Strangely given these party percentages, Labour to be the next government is only around 19% or so, when the raw numbers above (especially if Conservatives don’t win an electorate) favour the left.

  4. Chooky 4

    …all i can say is that Hooton is sounding a wee bit excited and hysterical of late ….and keeps urging that Labour must ditch David Cunliffe….i take this as a sign

    • “Oh please Brer Fox, whatever you do, please don’t throw me into the briar patch.”

      • Chooky 4.1.1

        Possum’s best PR advice to Labour…Reinstate Shearer!….lol

        ….shows how scared they are of the televised debates between Cunliffe and Key!

        ( and good on Cunliffe for taking a holiday with his family….nothing gives perspective and energises as much as a holiday!…this guy has got staying power!)

        • Kiwiri

          General question for anyone who has the info:
          When are the televised debates?
          How many of them?
          What will the format be – in addition to the two major party leaders debating, will there be debates that include leaders of other parties?

  5. ianmac 5

    And let’s not forget the Undecided. About 11% in one of the recent polls I think.

    • swordfish 5.1

      Yep, but the thing is to get the Undecideds out on Election Day, Ian. They may have a disproportionate tendency to be Left-leaning (as I’ve argued elsewhere) but unfortunately they also have a disproportionate tendency to be among the stay-at-homes on Election Day.

      I should also add that the benefits from any potential mobilisation of Undecideds may be even better than the 11% figure, Ian. You’re probably thinking of the Herald-Digi Undecided figure, but it’s higher than that in a number of other polls – mid-to-late teens. (Both Roy Morgan, in particular, and Herald-Digi traditionally record a lower Undecided rate than other polls).

  6. James 6

    I just love the fact that it is always assumed on this blog at least that Winston will go with the Greens / Labour / Kim Dotcom.

    If he passes 5% I dont think he will.

    • Lanthanide 6.1

      His recent policy announcements, and stance on state asset sales (buy them back), are much more Labour-friendly than they are National.

      • lurgee 6.1.1

        National will probably be able to offer him far more baubles as they won’t have to share so many out to other parties.

        Winston will also be aware of the likely opprobrium he would receive for putting a deeply unloved Labour Party and a cabal of environmental radicalists (as his supporters would likely see them) into power.

        I reckon it is a near certainty that Winston will go with National.

  7. fender 7

    “Key is an excellent debater, and will be tough to beat.”

    I concede he is great at diversion, telling fibs, screwing selected data and making lame personal attacks but I can’t agree there’s any excellence going on when his cake-hole moves.

    This is where I expect the greater intelligence and skills of Cunliffe to excel, but of course it requires viewers to be able to recognise what is important and sadly it seems around 54% can’t tell the difference.

  8. Tom Gould 8

    Picking over the polling entrails might be interesting, but you cannot get away from the harsh reality that Labour has dropped consistently since about September last year but more so this year. Now the only hope offered is the speculation that Cunliffe will out-debate Key at the finishing line and somehow the public will start to like and listen to him? Great strategy, folks.

    • McFlock 8.1

      To a certain degree the likelihood of making this the first nat government to not survive three elections always relied on the nats losing their turd-polish rather than any of the left parties being objectively better (let’s face it, they pretty much already are).

      One thing I like about the current Labour/left lineup is that they finally seem to have said “fuck it” and aren’t letting the media drive their policies or activities, because whatever Labour and co do, they’ll be shafted by fearfucks.

  9. Liberal Realist 9

    @Tom Gould,

    Whilst I have to agree with you that Labour has consistently dropped in the polls in the last year don’t you think that the ‘harsh reality’ is that they’ve been screwed by ongoing nakedly bias attacks from MSM?

    JK could literally tell NZ to get fucked and suck it and Nact will still receive 40% or more of the vote due to a combination of political ignorance (I vote for the right, badge of success stuff) and the media gloss over & whitewash + a bit of Slater hatespeak / distraction…

  10. lurgee 10

    The worrying thing is that the more people talk about ‘left blocs’ and coalitions, the more the left bloc vote shrinks. I think people actually want a Labour Party that looks like a party capable of winning power, not one that has to be pushed across the line by a substantial ‘minor’ partner. I guess we don’t like in a true MMP environment yet.

  11. Crunchtime 11

    Fairfax et al are doing a brazen hackjob of demonising the left and basically constructing headlines and articles based around nat quotes. It’s gotten much worse recently, and the polls indicate it’s working.

    Labour do seem remarkably flat-footed when it comes to countering this. They need to be better at telling their own story and countering the outright slander and lies. How effective they could possibly be vs a single-minded media smear campaign is a big question.

    Restoration of real journalism with real integrity is something that needs serious attention.

    • aerobubble 11.1

      Rubbish. Go after Fairfax income. By emphasizing how biased media no longer supports businesses and the economy, actively harms the economy. Go after Fairfax base like you would the National base. Explain how farmers were duped into paying too much for farmland, how home owners duped into buying crap homes, how the economy is run by a bunch of sit on their hands and waffle types, because really, NZ is rich, and letting it slide is pretty much the norm here. Talk up how brilliant we are, is just shining the turd again and again.

  12. lurgee 12

    Wonder why this thread only attracted a handful of comments?

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