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Pollwatch: 9th June 2019

Written By: - Date published: 4:00 pm, June 10th, 2019 - 27 comments
Categories: act, greens, labour, national, nz first, polls - Tags: , , , , ,

We had both major polls out yesterday, as noted in previous stories, and boy were the results a doozy! In addition to twice my usual talk about models, we’re going to get into the assumption some people are no doubt already making- that one of the polls is “wrong,” or more technically, rogue.

For those who want the raw results, I won’t summarize them in detail but will rather link them from here, except to say that Reid Research (Newshub) shows basically what we’ve come to expect recently: National performing poorly, Labour ascendant, the Greens improved slightly from last election, and NZF below threshold. Colmar Brunton (TVNZ) shows New Zealand First over threshold and just able to choose who would govern, but Labour on the verge of being able to choose between them and the Greens, so a slightly stronger result for the Government than the last election, but not as strong as recent polling has indicated, and fundamentally the same result if it were mirrored in 2020.

Also worth noting in leadership polling: Ardern continues to rate well in Reid Research’s net approval rating, (last image at this link, as usual the news continues to highlight PPM) at 56.9% higher approval than disapproval, while Bridges continues to be a drag on his party, at -38.6% net approval. (For context, Trump’s overall approval numbers are about twice as high as Bridges’) If we assume everyone who approves of Bridges is a National voter, this means that at least 20% of the country would vote for National but don’t approve of Bridges’ performance. Given that 7-8% of voters prefer Collins as Prime Minister in the media’s favourite but actually very-unuseful poll question, Preferred Prime Minister, we can conclude that there’s still at least 12% of National Voters that would like Anyone Else But Collins, and with Simon’s 17.4% approval rating, that 20% existing is pretty disastrous. He doesn’t command the majority support of voters in his own party.

Colmar Brunton poll pie graph: Labour-Green coalition 49.5%, NZF chooses Government 46.8%, Hung Parliament 2.7%, National-Act coalition: 1%On to the important part: The party vote results, and what they show in terms of probability. Colmar Brunton’s poll is interesting here, although the most likely result is New Zealand First being required for a Labour Government, it’s not the only result by far. My model has likely had a streak of luck hurting NZF in the above graph, as they were below threshold 51.3% of the time, (the Greens were below 2% of the time in these simulations) so likely there’s a 90-95% chance that if NZF were above threshold as this poll suggests, they would be necessary to govern, however when they’re below, it’s reasonable to conclude we’d get a Labour-Green government, as the Hung Parliament and National Government probabilities are so low.

Reid Research’s graph is so boring as to be barely worth talking about: We get a landslide Labour government based on those results, every single time, as the wasted vote is so high that the probability of Labour dipping under that 50% mark due to the margin of error is irrelevant. It is quite frankly too strong a result for labour, and we should hope that we don’t see many polls like this near the 2020 election, as I don’t really want to see what Labour’s like with that level of impunity- having a coalition partner be necessary is good for the health of our democracy. It is however worth noting that National also broke 50% a few times in mid-term polling, so we shouldn’t be entirely alarmed, as hitting it now and then is probably just normal noise from the margin of error, and of course, even ascendant parties tend to lose some support near an election, too, as kiwis aren’t too fond of majority government anymore. In this set of simulations, NZF were always below threshold, and the Greens were below 0.9% of the time.

As to whether one poll or the other is right: Most likely, the truth lies between these two. Colmar Brunton’s (TVNZ) poll gives an unlikely surge to National and New Zealand First, and Reid Research’s (Newshub) poll gives an unlikely surge to Labour. Here’s what my weighted average (mostly from these two polls and the one beforehand, but also including a tiny fraction of the three polls before that) looks like: A Labour-Green government with NZF out of the picture, and the opposition having 54 seats, assuming National doesn’t decide to run ACT out of Epsom. (I put the odds of Seymour losing his electorate at a nominal 5% in my model for exactly this reason, and there has been talk of doing this, however I hear the current policy is to continue their implicit support of ACT)

The trendline looks really similar to before: as usual, spikes of NZF going over and under threshold, spikes of the Nats or a hung parliament being non-zero chances, and spikes of Labour not needing the Greens, but the overall trend looks like the public continue to support results that lead to a Labour-Green government without New Zealand First.

If I absolutely had to pick one poll over the other, I would note that the Reid Research poll is actually closer to the trend, and that last election, it and Horizon were the only ones that really rated NZF correctly when they had what we can now tell was their late surge. I’m tentatively willing to credit that this might be due to the superiority of online panels supplementing landline polls, as the Colmar Brunton poll only calls mobiles and landlines to get its data, which might lead to it overestimating people who are more likely to answer phone calls. (who would likely tend to be older, richer, and more conservative voters, regardless of whether they answer landlines or not. Younger voters are less inclined to answer a call unless they know where it’s coming from) However, I think what’s likely happened is that Colmar Brunton has had a rogue poll, and Reid Research has had one that overstates Labour’s support a little bit, but is probably still within the margin of error- we’ll see how things look at the next poll, but this isn’t some Great Big Crisis or a matter of alternative reality, and both polls are useful data points we shouldn’t want to go away.

27 comments on “Pollwatch: 9th June 2019”

  1. Robert Guyton 1

    We win!

    • Matthew Whitehead 1.1

      Too early to say that, we're not even approaching the election.

      I'd go with "reports of our unpopularity have been grossly exaggerated." wink

    • Heather Grimwoood 1.2

      To RG at 1: But must not become complacent!

    • Sacha 1.3

      for some value of 'we'.

      • Matthew Whitehead 1.3.1

        I mean, a lot of the commenters here are going to be referring to the Greens and Labour as "we?" It's not unreasonable, in my opinion. NZ First, despite being in government with us, and more in government than the party I'm a member of in fact, are not a left-wing party by any traditional definition, and would very likely object to being labelled as a socially liberal party too, despite agreeing with some good common sense liberal social policy from time to time. If you're a partisan for them that's fine, but that's not a perspective I'm ever going to fully agree with in my more opinion-based posts or my comments, and it's not unreasonable for NZF to not be included in every comment by every Labour supporter posting here, either.

        If that is what you're getting at I would definitely agree I don't think it's good news for NZF, although it could be if I'm wrong that Colmar Brunton's poll is more likely to be rogue than Reid Research's, as them being at 5% again would probably have Winston enjoying a good drink in celebration. wink

        That said, I'm relatively independently minded and try to be fair- New Zealand First should get credit for what they've convinced Labour to do, whether good or bad, and the performance of their ministers, and all of their original policy ideas, ofc. But that's not what this post is about. smiley It's purely trying to inject some statistics into looking at polls to give us all a more accurate picture, and hopefully for those interested I'm doing it understandably.

        If you're with the Greens and/or Labour it's probably good news overall, no matter how you slice it, as again, I don't yet rate the possibility that Labour won't need a coalition partner after 2020 as realistic, I think there would be some softer left-wing Labour supporters who would tactically vote Green to prevent that happening if Ardern looks likely to win that hard, and I don't think she's likely to cruise into the election campaign at 50%, lol. I expect she's got Labour at 47% or maybe somewhere slightly north in actuality.

        • swordfish 1.3.1.1

          NZ First, despite being in government with us, and more in government than the party I'm a member of in fact, are not a left-wing party by any traditional definition, and would very likely object to being labelled as a socially liberal party too, despite agreeing with some good common sense liberal social policy from time to time.

          Not so sure about that.

          Put aside Party Elites and focus instead on the views of NZF Voters (as measured by the various iterations of the New Zealand Election Study).

          The New Zealand Election Study (2008-2014) suggests:

          – those swinging to NZF have disproportionately come from a Labour-voting background (& – as with most smaller parties – switchers comprise a significant segment of NZF support).

          Over those 3 consecutive Elections, close to two-thirds of switchers to Winston's Party came courtesy of the Left (overwhelmingly former Labour supporters … but also a small segment of former Greens) / one-third from the Right (overwhelmingly former National voters … but also a minority from ACT / Cons / Maori Party). (my calculations from raw Flow-of-the-Vote stats from the 08-14 NZES).

          – The NZF voting-base can best be seen as a segment of the morally-conservative Left. Most of the latter group still vote Labour, but a section have moved in Winston's direction over the last two or more decades, particularly during the Key years. (Although they haven’t always remained particularly Loyal).

          – Which, in turn, explains why NZF voters have chosen Labour as their preferred Coalition partner in 3 out of the last 4 General Elections (including overwhelmingly in 2017).

          – And why a strong positive correlation exists between Labour & NZF voters in terms of liking the other Party (as well, incidentally & somewhat surprisingly, as a not-quite-so strong but still positive correlation between Green & NZF voter like reciprocality) (again from NZES)

          – So what I'm suggesting, just to be clear, is that – while NZF's support-base is no doubt composed of a variety of ideologically discrete groups … the Economically Right-leaning component is relatively small.

        • Yes … Winston's voters do tend toward moral conservatism on the Liberal / Libertarian … vs … Conservative / Authoritarian Moral spectrum.

          But on the other key axis – the classic one – the Left vs Right Economic spectrum … a large majority of them are spread across the Left side of the spectrum. Winston’s supporters are fundamentally opposed to central aspects of the Neo-Liberal order.

  • Sacha 1.3.1.2

    (I wasn't being deep and meaningful)

    It's just a universally-applicable exclamation. #we

  • Kat 2

    What would be interesting following the election in 2020 is if Labour stays in the mid to high 40's and both the Greens and NZ1 had the same % and equally corresponding number of seats. There is only a tiny % between them at the moment.

    • Matthew Whitehead 2.1

      That wouldn't necessarily be interesting because the maths might add up to exactly the same coalition arrangement. I take it you're referring to labour being able to work with either party whenever it wants as a minority government?

      That's certainly better than today's arrangement because where Labour and the Greens agree they can ignore NZ First, but if you support genuine left-wing change and/or liberal social values it's not as good because Labour can choose to work with NZ First whenever it wants if it's worried about being "too left-wing." *insert eyeroll here*

      • Kat 2.1.1

        Appreciate your take on it Matthew, however my hypothesis put forward the conundrum of the PM having to allocate govt bench status from two aligned support party's of equal numbers. Winston or James, jokers to the left, clowns to the right…..etc etc.

        However I do regard Winston as a very important piece in the political jigsaw puzzle at the moment and he has my support.

        • Matthew Whitehead 2.1.1.1

          Ah, I see! As a Green myself I hope you're calling us the jokers, clowns are disturbing. 🙂

          Having two equally-sized coalition partners would suggest you should give them an equal number of ministers, roughly proportional to their parties' size as part of the government, the main issue to deal with is figuring out which NZF MPs have the chops to actually act as Ministers, (I think they got all the ones that could reasonably made Ministers already in this round of negotiations) as it's not as if it's a deep bench for their size, and what happens if one of them has a scandal, etc- does it undermine the government if they lose a minister because there's nobody ready to stand up within that party to replace them? Fortunately not so much of an issue with the Greens, as even our youngest backbencher is embarassing the Deputy Opposition Leader so much she's skipping head-to-head debates. 😉 I know the Greens got an undersecretary instead of a Minister to balance out the difference in size between the two parties this term, and I, like James, think that was a good deal and fair to everyone involved.

          Far more difficult has been dealing with Labour giving in much more to New Zealand First on policy issues due to the fact that they're actually willing to indulge less progressive options in terms of passing laws, or switching around who gets to govern, but I think Winston also knows there's a lot of pressure on NZF to stay the course, as he's already been part of one government implosion and he will be the front of the list if this government can't be made to work, especially with the Greens compromising so much to make our unlikely team work together.

          • Kat 2.1.1.1.1

            Reality is JA needs a clear majority to be in the commanding position to allocate the make up of the next govt. Winston has been the scene setter up to now, if the Greens equalise with NZ1 support then who gets the "big" fishies when that boat comes in is the question. I do believe James will equally make a competent #2IC.

            I support the broad current coalition makeup because it keeps National out…indefinitely at least.

  • NZJester 3

    I think the way these poles are taken they are getting less and less accurate with the true margin of error going up.

    A lot of people will not answer calls from numbers they do not know unless they have been warned to expect a call from someone who they don't currently know the number of.

    • Matthew Whitehead 3.1

      No such thing as "true margin of error." Margin of error is a statistical concept relating to getting a good idea of what's going on in a larger population by polling a smaller, randomly selected but representative, group. What you're referring to is methodological inexactitude, or bad decisions about how to run a poll that don't relate to statistics, and thus have nothing to do with a quantifiable margin of error.

      That said, yes, since land lines have become less common and people are answering unsolicited calls less, polls have found it harder to manage. This is why I'm willing to tentatively guess based on their and Horizon Panel's performance at the last election that Reid Research has hit onto a more accurate formula mixing landline calls with online panels- (they're still randomly selected, but from within a group of people who have signed up online to be surveyed, and then they track them and make sure they're not re-polled for a long time afterwards) eventually it'll have to be mobile calls and online panels IMO, which will be harder. Colmar Brunton does absolutely exclusively suffer from the problem you mention.

      I think we will expect more rogues from Colmar Brunton in the future if they are unable or unwilling to move to a model that incorporates internet panels.

  • SPC 4

    Hopefully Labour is in the position to choose either NZ First or Greens in 2020 as its coalition partners and National has no options.

    I will vote Green (they now favour looser fiscal policy than they did in agreement with Labour in 2017), but I appreciate that the team and its relative position compared to National will be strongest in this context.

    It's a sufficient relative bump for Greens relative to NZF for me. I'd rather they go for a mandate for the three to be returned for another term, rather than aspire to a Labour-Green coalition.

    All it requires is Labour saying it would seek confidence and supply agreements with both. A broad continuance of the programme but with slightly more power with Labour in terms of day to day decisions.

    • Matthew Whitehead 4.1

      Haha in terms of what I'm personally hoping for it's definitely the Greens being necessary for Labour to govern and them having no other option. It would greatly assist with actually getting issues like fighting poverty, taking real, urgent action on climate change, etc… done properly. We are absolutely stymied on a lot of issues with NZF necessary to pass laws right now, and there are still some areas like welfare reform where even Labour is an obstacle, and being the only coalition partner would make fixing things a lot easier.

      Labour will obviously as always seek to form agreements with as many parties as it practically can after the next election, but might try and throw a small party under the bus if they're not sufficiently credible as a coalition partner to them. The Māori Party comes to mind. We're on the same team for now but don't think relying on Labour forever as a supporter of a smaller party is a secure strategy, you want to think about growing.

      (I will note that we're beginning to see some change along these lines in Europe, with Germany polling like they're expecting a "Green/red/red" government, with the Greens the largest Party in the Bundestag at about 30% of the vote, and likely able to govern if they can negotiate an agreement with the Left party (which incorporates the former East German communist party) and the Social Democratic Party as similarly-sized junior partners. (Think Labour, if they were much more centrist and willing to coalesce with National to lock out the far-right and far-left parties) It's not impossible for social democratic politics to stop being the primary choice for those on the left if people are frustrated enough with its lack of delivery)

  • Oh what a load of old zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    The coalition will be back in 2020.

    Its that's simple.

    Bridges and his non existent bridges for Northland are buggered.

    The people of this land have not forgotten.

    End of story.

    And neither have they forgotten the interview with John Campbell either. He's toast.

    • Matthew Whitehead 5.1

      Nobody's forcing you to read or comment, mate.

      • WILD KATIPO 5.1.1

        [Argh, sorry, I accidentally edited your reply instead of replying to it myself somehow, and forgot exactly what the original said. My bad. 🙁 Feel free to repost it for the record, and I’ll put it back into this post! -MjW]

        • Matthew Whitehead 5.1.1.1

          What do you mean by "Step up?"

          I've been doing a little statistics on this stuff since before I started posting on The Standard, you've never had an issue with anything I've posted about that until now. I don't mind if this isn't your thing, I understand looking at polls can be horse-racy and that's not the best way to understand politics overall, but it also gives us some barometer too if we DON'T discuss it in a horse-race manner where being ahead justifies you to continue being ahead, and we call out when we need to wait to a future poll to draw conclusions, etc…

          Just skip the pollwatch posts if you don't like them. I like to know where we stand, and how likely various government types are based on the polling results. I will try to post on other issues now I have some time again, but I am also into policy details and electoral reform and lots of things people find dry, so if I'm not your bag as an author please just skip my stuff rather than annoying yourself with it, I won't be offended and it shouldn't bother you either if not everything on the site is what you want to read! 🙂

  • MickeyBoyle 6

    Hilary Clinton and Bill Shorten thought they had it in the bag also, polling didnt work out so well for them. There are alot of people lying to pollsters now, do you take that into consideration?

    • Matthew Whitehead 6.1

      Bill Shorten was an actual example of polling being off, sure. It's still the best indicator we have, and if the methodology is good it's statistically valid. What this suggests is that Australia is showing that we actually need to move beyond traditional call-based polling as the only method to sample political opinions, and hey, we've already started that in New Zealand.

      Hillary Clinton wasn't- her popular vote performance (the only thing that can be measured by national polling) was within the margin of error of pre-election polls, and the only states the state polling wasn't indicative for were ones where the polls didn't keep up with the change because they weren't considered even close to being battleground states based on early polling. The only thing that swung it for Donald Trump is their crazy refusal to update their presidential elections from a system designed for when voting results had to be carried to the capital on horseback.

  • peterlepaysan 7

    There are a lot of sceptical questions (I am an avowed sceptic).

    Questions about preferred leadership are stupid.

    Leave that to the USA, and look at what happened there.

    Methodology matters.

    Social media responses are reliable??

    Recently, in Oz where it is legal to do surveys of voters after leaving polling booths the election result showed a lot of people lied about they had voted. Labour should have won. Sigh.

    People lie, especially on "social media".

    Anarchists are going to love this, but hate silicon valley control, ( I surmise).

    I

    • Matthew Whitehead 7.1

      Questions about leadership are relevant. I am staunchly in favour of a parliamentary system and elections that focus primarily on parties and policy, but it's still relevant within those systems to know that we have a reliable Prime Minister who is capable of handling the stress, managing to listen to others and also have their own opinions, able to lead effectively. Knowing if the leaders of our two biggest parties have public approval is part of whether they're *seen* to do that. What we can't do is make it all about that like the news do, but in situations like the opposition is in now, net approval ratings are very relevant, as they would be if the PM were trying to ignore criticism from the media and her ratings took a sharp decline. Bridges is not tenable as a potential Prime Minister with such low support, but the decision as to what to do is of course for National partisans, not us.

      Not sure why you're talking about Social Media- I don't mention it in the post or comments at all? If you're referring to "online panels," that's not social media. It's a system of scientific polling online, where you invite people to sign up for surveys and market research, and the polling company randomly includes those people, very infrequently, in opinion polls rather than trying to randomly cold-call them in traditional polling style. It's still in its infancy as a polling technique, but I'd say early results suggest it's going to be much more reliable than simply adding mobile phones to the cold-calling approach as use of land lines has begun its decline already, and is likely to sharply decline as baby boomers go cell-only or, well, die off.

      • peterlepaysan 7.1.1

        Actually I was not responding to your post.

        My comment (obscurely) referred to pollsters methodology.

        What were there sources? Landlines, cellphones, Facebook.
        How were the demographics chosen?

        The pollsters are in trouble, as the chattering classes, and yourself if you believe pollsters matter. They might if they openly admit their methodology. Yeah right.

        I forgot if the methodology was transparent the media would not understand it anyway unless a breaking news HEADLINE was available.

        Another thought for you, respondents lie, and are sometimes known to troll blogs.

  • SHG 8

    Observation: polls no longer mean anything.

    Prediction: the party that learns to use the Internet, particularly the datamining and targeting and segmentation power of Facebook/Instagram and Google/Youtube, most effectively will win the next election. Right now no party in NZ is doing these things particularly well.

    However the agency that is currently best in the world at doing this stuff is a) based in NZ, and b) run by a couple of former Young Nats.

  • cricklewood 9

    I think its really going to be up in the air in 2020, the industry i'm in is a bit of a bell weather when it comes to discretionary spending and is slowing down dramatically. The design end of where our work flows from has gone very quiet so taking into account lead time its going to get a whole lot slower for us shortly. Seems fairly wide spread talking to other firms as well.

    Funny thing is no one really knows why the tap has been turned off just that its happening.

    If they economy gets rocky its anyone's guess which way the election goes…

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