Written By: - Date published: 8:30 am, August 6th, 2018 - 40 comments
Categories: act, greens, jacinda ardern, labour, maori party, national, nz first, polls, Simon Bridges - Tags: colmar brunton, matthew hooton, pollwatch, threshold
The pollwatch continues!
In this ongoing series, I look at trends, why Matthew Hooton shouldn’t quote things out of context like I warned him not to, how healthy the Greens are, and whether National is on a decline. (I may disagree with my fellow author on that last one, at least somewhat)
Colmar Brunton, whose name I almost wrote as “pollmore,” came out with a poll on Sunday, pretty on the button for Jacinda Ardern’s return to the Prime Ministerial hotseat. (which likely means it was reflecting the end of Winston’s turn there when it was taken) It will surprise nobody to hear that Bridges continues to poll abysmally as National leader, Winston got a bit of a bump as Preferred PM when he was on his best possible behaviour, and Ardern is pretty steady, but as they’re not approval ratings and rather more of a name recognition, take that with a grain of salt. (although my understanding is that Bridges is underwater in net approval ratings, too)
The most likely result from this poll, featured right, isn’t particularly different from the current Parliament. It features NZF, the Greens, and Labour needing to govern together, but with NZF able to vote with National on issues where its social conservatism doesn’t allow it to compromise with the Government.
Within the margins of error, there’s actually a lot going on here, so let’s go on to my simulation project. (basically, while the above Parliament is most likely, there’s still somewhere between 0.6% and 3% margin of error in each party’s result, so I run random distortions of each party’s result in excel, then put each set through an MMP seat calculation, and total who’s got the numbers to control who forms a govt via the fiendish art of addition and lookup references) No outright chance of a Labour-only government here like that crazy outlier poll in late February, and as I disclaimed last time, National’s odds of forming a government were artificially inflated by a very bad poll for both medium-sized parties, and were also an outlier.
Mostly, where NZF is over-threshold, (47.5% of the 2,000 simulations shown to the left) they have the numbers to be the kingmaker, but there’s a small sliver of times that the Greens actually had that 1 critical seat that would allow for a Labour-Green government. (most of that result, however, is from NZF falling under threshold, a scenario where it’s drastically unlikely National still manages to win based on this single poll) There’s now more likelihood that Parliament is hung and either NZF or ACT are forced to cross the floor or abstain to form a government than of National governing on its own or together with ACT.
Now only under threshold in 3% of simulations, the Greens are back on solid ground again at 6%, which given all that’s going on suggests a pretty stable base of support. (Matthew Hooton please take note, as he mischieviously misquoted my last analysis, with no link to debunk his own misinformation, that the Greens might actually end up under threshold on the strength of one public poll, a claim he has been suspiciously silent about since)
So let’s look at trends for a bit. Is National in decline? Well, yes and no. Their polling is steady, so in a completely objective sense, they’re not. You have to really get into subjective analysis to make any claim they are, and that’s because, honestly, the government has been spinning its wheels a bit with Ardern gone. Peters has been on relatively good behaviour and hasn’t crashed the car on a joyride, true, but neither has he wowed his skeptics. NZF’s insistence on the Electoral Integrity Amendment Bill is squeezing the Greens with our base, and making Labour look absolutely bankrupt. Meanwhile, Labour is the only party in Parliament that won’t commit to honouring the result on a referendum about decriminalizing cannabis, when even National says it will respect the result.
You’d be forgiven for thinking the opposition would be scoring points everywhere, but honestly, it’s failed to gain popular traction and even had some spectacular misfires- Chris Bishop thinking LinkedIn endorsements matter comes to mind, and their insistence on reinstating charter schools is preaching to the choir. And then there’s Dan Bidois claiming we should give authoritarians mandatory platforms. No thankyou. Even Hooton has stopped hooting about the possibility of a National Party-only moonshot strategy into government.
If anyone’s in decline here, objectively, it’s Labour, the only List party to go down in polling since May, with no strong push for labour laws, or making more money available in budgets for underpaid teachers or nurses possibly hitting them a little, (especially when there is objectively room to do so in this budget) but with all that happening, Ardern will be privately bewildered but ecstatic the Opposition haven’t scored a hit, and are still playing silly buggers pleading for charter schools.
So, that discussed, I’ve given you a new graph this time. This is a stacked line graph (think of it like a bunch of stacked bar graphs in a row, but easier to read when the results aren’t evenly spaced, like polling) The distance of each line from 0% (for National-ACT) or the line below it (everyone else) represents that scenario’s share of the overall probability- we can see NZF-controlled governments dominating the pre-election polls, with a revival of minor chances for both National and Labour-Green government scenarios at the end of the year. (the Green and red lines being in exactly the same place means no chance of Labour governing alone)
What this really shows is that since February, we’ve had a couple of blips, but overall whatever outcome we’ve had, if NZF doesn’t change sides, National doesn’t really have a hope, exactly like you’d expect. There have been strong results for Labour, and strong results for them together with the Greens, but not as strong lately with NZF now looking to have a decent chance of coming back in above threshold.
As always, this stuff is a bit early to call as results tend to adjust and become a bit closer up to an election, but right now it suggests there is broad support for the Government, the Greens are stable above the threshold, NZF is enjoying a bit of a bump, and Labour’s party vote is sagging just a little, likely with a small bleed of support to National, which has in turn bled slightly in favour of ACT. (who actually had two MPs in some of these scenarios, although with National contesting Epsom next election, there’s a real possibility of them having a rounder number, like zero.)
Oh, and I guess the Māori Party showed up at 1% again, but that doesn’t really mean much until we know if they have anyone who looks likely to win an electorate next time. (like New Zealand First that one time, we should probably give them the benefit of the doubt that they’re not entirely dead unless they lose two elections in a row)