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Polity: Trevett wrong on polls

Written By: - Date published: 6:13 pm, May 11th, 2014 - 32 comments
Categories: Politics, polls - Tags: , , ,

Rob Salmond highlights some of the drug-laden smoke waffling out of National and greedily getting snorted up by some of the more credulous media.

Claire Trevett’s sources have told her porkies about Labour’s internal polling numbers. She reports:

List MPs were doing the numbers as internal polling showed them diving into the low to mid-20s and Cunliffe with stratospherically high negative ratings.

One poll was reported to have Labour only five or six points ahead of the Greens.

Not very many people see any party’s internal polling. I am one of those who do within Labour, which is why I know Claire’s sources are wrong. Here’s where our polling says we stand:

  • No poll taken since David Cunliffe became the leader had showed Labour below 30% support.
  • No poll taken since David Cunliffe became the leader had showed Labour support at anything less than double the Greens’ support.
  • Our latest poll, which was taken before the extent of National’s horror period became apparent, shows the combination of Labour and the Greens more or less tied with National. This polling was not quite as positive for the left as the recent Roy Morgan, but I’ll await with interest how the next set of these come out.
  • Our latest poll has New Zealand First comfortably over the 5% threshold, and effectively in a position to choose the Prime Minister. This is consistent with Roy Morgan’s findings.

So it is game on, with Winston in poll position. (Geddit – ha!)

The interesting thing for me is the emerging pattern of misinformation about Labour’s poll numbers. Whenever National is under pressure, phantom reports of dire internal Labour polls emerge. Judith Collins – that well known paragon of honesty – claimed a couple of months ago that Labour was on 23%. She lied. There was a claim that a public poll would soon emerge showing Labour on 25%. It never did. And now this.

Journalists need to be aware that one of National’s strategies for the election is to talk up the Greens’ role in a centre-left government. Evidently, that now involves making up Labour’s internal numbers, in order to seed the false belief that voters’ choice will be between “National” and “Green/Labour.”

Here’s a new rule of thumb: The more chatter we hear about Labour’s internals, the more worried National is.

lprent: I have quite a lot of direct and indirect access to people who deal with canvassing and polling at various levels because of the various roles I do or have done in the past. These range from the geeks to the politicians. Once you look at polling time periods and the known biases, the Roy Morgan poll has been tracking closely to everything that I have heard of in the backchannels for a long time. Like Rod, I’m quite puzzled by some of the claims that the journalists appear to get repeatedly and that are seldom even backed up by subsequent events. I find it hard to see how they can be that gulled that often unless they wanted to be on the hook.


32 comments on “Polity: Trevett wrong on polls”

  1. Weepu's beard 1

    It must be just about impossible as a journalist to leave your political preferences at the door. Other than civil servants, none of the rest of us have to that when we go about our daily lives.

    • karol 1.1

      Indeed. The problem is that more of the prominent MSM journalists and columnists lean right than left.

      • Weepu's beard 1.1.1

        That’s possible given that seasoned journalists are for the most part set up in life, home owners, and reasonably well paid. They don’t want for much unlike working folk, and disadvantaged folk, who are of significant concern with regard to Labour/Green politics.

      • Paul 1.1.2

        A lot more on the right than the left.
        More ACT supporters than Green,Mana and Labour combined.
        Media is owned by corporates.

  2. Sacha 2

    “hard to see how they can be that gulled that often unless they wanted to be on the hook”

    They’re more interested in access than the truth.

    • geoff 2.1

      They’re more interested in access than the truth.

      I agree there is an element of that.
      I imagine John Key has encouraged his ministers to have chummy relationships with gallery journalists.
      It’s less likely those journalists will dump on someone they have a social relationship with than one they don’t.
      Obviously having a good relationship with the media is vital for John’s election chances.

      So was Collins’ attack on Katie Bradford actually more about attacking Key?

      She knows he is doing a number on her but he can’t dump her before the election. So she uses that as leverage against him.

      Attacking the media as a way to improve her negotiating position?

      She has the power to ruin his re-election chances and she appears to be more than selfish and spiteful enough to do that even if it means destroying her own political future.

      • Weepu's beard 2.1.1

        Amazing if true. Somehow I thought all greedy right wing troughers worked together.

      • veutoviper 2.1.2

        “So was Collins’ attack on Katie Bradford actually more about attacking Key?”

        IMO there is probably a degree of this.

        I don’t have time to find links, but quite a number of times when Collins has been answering questions re Oravida in Parliament and to the media , she has made remarks such as “You need to ask Mr Key/the PM about that” and similar. The timing and tone of these remarks etc has been such that I read these as an indirect challenge/threat to Key – eg, I dare you JK – if you don’t back me, I’ll land you in it big time.

    • I don’t think it’s just (or entirely) about access. The fact is, these stories are really easy to put together: you find someone with an ax to grind and a story to tell and then publish it verbatim as “inside sources say”. It’s not challengeable, because you’re just quoting people, and because internal polling is, as Rob says, a closely-guarded bit of information. Although I note Politicheck decided to spend some time fact-checking what the Internet Party’s internal polls are saying, which seems a bit of a crystal-ball exercise.

  3. Philj 3

    I have noticed that, self proclaimed left leaning Bryce Edwards has moved to the right the closer he gets to the MSM. It’s understandable I guess. Just look at TVNZ commentators! A truly independent, non commercial public broadcaster is essential to a healthy democracy. Which we don’t have. Labour’s policy on this is important for me and I am not convinced that Fafoi can really deliver on this. Labour stuffed this up last time with Marion Hobbes. All bluff and bluster.

  4. NZJester 4

    Claire Trevett’s sources are obviously National Party stooges pretending to be Labour Party insiders.
    Either she is very easily tricked or she is putting on blinkers to the truth so she can report what she wants to hear.
    The National Party for years now has employed the most highly rated international dirty tricks company in the business that knows how to fudge the truth and lead sympathetic Journalists by the nose.
    The problem is that the National Party is now springing so many leaks in its rusty party boat that the bilge pumps the dirty tricks department have been running to keep the National Party boat afloat are starting to run hot and failing to keep all the water out. Soon those bilge pumps will fail and the boat will sink. I am thinking that will be on September 20th of this year.

  5. Anne 5

    I find it hard to see how they can be that gulled that often unless they wanted to be on the hook.

    They’re not of course. They are part of the oft mentioned Nat. Party dirty tricks brigade – the media delivery end of it. A quid pro quo kind of situation exists where you print out made up claims as if they’re facts and we’ll see you get the real stuff first.

    How I will laugh and laugh if we have a Lab/Green/NZ First govt by year’s end. Their life of journalistic privilege will be over.

  6. Blue 6

    I find it hard to see how they can be that gulled that often unless they wanted to be on the hook.

    It is ridiculously easy to gull a political journalist. Unlike almost any other type of journalist, they don’t deal in facts – they deal almost exclusively in unverified whispers.

    You’d have to be pretty fucking dumb to believe that the Labour Party would ever poll at just a few points above the Greens. But you can literally sell a political journalist on any and all bullshit you want. It’s not like they will ever demand to see the proof. Or do a few basic mental calculations.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      It is ridiculously easy to gull a political journalist. Unlike almost any other type of journalist, they don’t deal in facts – they deal almost exclusively in unverified whispers.

      Instead of covering how our politicians are dealing or not dealing with the major concerns of the people and the nation, they seem to mostly speculate about the daily soap opera and trivial events of Parliament.

      So I also am not sure how many qualify as true journalists; courtiers to those in the corridors of power and gossip columnists may be a more apt description.

    • Bearded Git 6.2

      I don’t know Blue. Labour 28% Green 19% would probably result in a progressive left wing government being elected. Sounds all right to me.

  7. JanM 7

    When I left school in the mid 60s going into journalism was considered to be fairly much for the average brain – not really bright enough for a real profession, but a bit more clued up than working in a factory, say.( although there were, of course some notable exceptions -Colin James comes to mind). Such people do not really have the inclination or capacity for serious reflection or analysis, and tending to come from blue-collar backgrounds, espouse the notion that people further up the ladder vote National, if only to demonstrate their ‘arrival’ in the middle classes. In the 70s the Press Gallery was full of them and it is fairly obvious that little has changed.
    Nothing much is going to change, either, until journalism starts to be perceived as a serious profession, and heaven knows how that will be achieved in this present climate

  8. Anne 8

    I think we’re on the same wavelength Blue except I believe they know deep down they’re being “gulled” but they’re happy to go along with it because of the journalistic privileges they expect in return.

    One of the best examples was the Clayton’s leadership coup at the 2012 Labour Party Annual Conference. You know, the coup Cunliffe was having which he wasn’t having. Paddy and co. and the ABC club were more than happy to fall for it hook line and sinker. I watched the whole thing unfold but it wasn’t until the Sunday night that it became clear what it was all about. It was Labour’s moment of insanity.

  9. Lanthanide 9

    Judith Collins – that well known paragon of honesty – claimed a couple of months ago that Labour was on 23%. She lied.

    Most probably she was lying. However it is possible that National’s internal polling have had Labour down under 30%, maybe even at 25%. So unless Rob has also seen National’s internal polling (which seems extremely unlikely), we can’t be sure she really was lying.

    • MrSmith 9.1

      So now 25% = 23% and we can’t be sure she really was lying, outstanding work Lath, maybe you could get a job working for Judith.

  10. Gruntie 10

    After watching Q&A and The Nation this weekend I despair at the capability of so called political journalists. IMO TV3’s show with Lisa Owen is 1000 miles ahead of Wood and Dann – neither of them were capable of challenging the BS that Joyce was spining – they are out of their depth – we need journalists with a depth of understanding, knowledge and expertise in economics who can bring some real rigour and robust debate to MSM. And honesty – not allow politicians to get away with bald faced lies

    • Paul 10.1

      Wood id not out of her depth.
      She is in the same club as them.

    • tc 10.2

      They are not there to challenge him but give a facade that he is being challenged when its just a soapbox for his BS.

      Wood is all surgery and spite, Dann is a yes man keeping his employers happy.

  11. Philj 11

    CV + 1
    When referring to journalists didn’t you mean ‘courtesans’ rather than courtiers?

  12. captain hook 12

    the press gallery is filled with immature dweebs shoulder tapped by news orgs because the instructors at j-skool inform them on their propensities to vote national. get it right!

  13. Tracey 13

    dont journalist have to find a minimum of two different sources to corroborate the story? so, two different unrelated people have provided proof of polling numbers below 30%

    or two unrelated people say they have seen polling below 30% from internal lbour polling.

    • tc 13.1

      Jonolism rules now Tracey and setting a theme/meme/narrative regardless of the facts.

      Many examples of PR/press releases parrotted in the MSM without any fact checking or looking at what’s behind the press release and doing some ya know actual investigative work.

      Nact spin machine works on the basis of throw out enough BS and hope it sticks.

      Trevett is one of the worst examples and her ‘opinion’ pieces when she’s not adoring whatever shonkeys up to.

      • Tracey 13.1.1

        once the bottom line for a media outlet is dividend and yield, the quality of investigative journalism must drop either cos of shrinking staff numbers, or advertiser friendly writing.

        an end to all opinion pieces would be a great start. STOP TRYING TO TELL ME WHAT TO THINK??? give me facts and let me think for myself.

  14. captain hook 14

    journalism in New Zealand has become completely infantislised. The rot started when tom Scott tried to go after Muldoon and got chopped off at his knee pants and then Roopert came along and started employing kids who wanted the STORY when they had never read a book in their lives and wouldn’t know a story if it bit them in the bum. Now we have sly little whiners like gluon espinah who have been round long enough to have a track record but who are more or less sly shills for the national party.
    now there is another generation of espiners ready to go.

    • JanM 14.1

      If you knew the parliamentary journalists back in the Tom Scott days you’d know they haven’t really changed that much – they were pretty much all right wing apologists with somewhat average mentalities – Tom Scott stood out like dog’s balls in that crew which made it really easy for Muldoon to pick on him

  15. lurgee 15

    In fairness, Trevett spends a large part of the article re-hashing National’s woes. Where she got her polling information from is interesting, but her essential point in the column is valid; a fortnight ago, Labour were in a dreadful position, and I wondered if a few people might be having quiet conversations “about David.” Now National are the ones writhing on hot coals.

    Though Labour hasn’t really done much to contribute to their discomfort.

    • Tracey 15.1

      national didnt have much to do with owen glen and peters other than make it about clark.

    • lprent 15.2

      …Labour were in a dreadful position…

      Were they? While the media were busy pumping hot air into the bloated ego of Shane Jones, many of us from both the right (ie me) and left of Labour activists were chortling with glee that the most persistent remaining embarrassment in caucus was leaving us. Just the thought of never ever needing to squirm with embarrassment as the self-over-rated ego screwed up yet again when Labour was getting traction by far outweighed any minor amounts of ability that he would occasionally show was sufficient.

      Moreover, the reaction from the public was pretty damn disinterested as well. It isn’t like there was any substance to the bag of wind.

      You also have to remember that Shane Jones starting to wave his dick in the air yet again a few weeks ago was the only thing that slowed and nearly stopped the slow and successful pursuit of what really happened at the Oravida “private” dinner. That was classic Jones – the only thing he ever did for the Labour party was provide good screw up diversions for the press to allow diversion away from whatever traction they’d gained.

      It was only having Maurice Williamson being a munter in the same kind of entitlement racket that reignited the Oravida mess.

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