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Pollwatch: Colmar Brunton 18/02/2019

Written By: - Date published: 8:29 pm, February 19th, 2019 - 13 comments
Categories: greens, labour, national, nz first, polls - Tags: , , ,

Like two buses coming at once after you’ve waited an hour, we have the second poll of the year. Unlike last time, it’s not a sexy poll, it is rather the workhorse poll that confirms what you wanted to know, and that things weren’t quite as scarily unbalanced as you think.

Colmar Brunton has released its poll for TVNZ yesterday, and it basically confirms that the general features of Reid Research’s poll aren’t rogue.

The Greens seem to be the obvious winner here, with a whopping over-97% chance of forming the next government without NZ First if we were to have a snap election a few days ago. It’s worth noting this as growing your support while being in government as a support party has basically never happened in New Zealand, so if the Greens pull off even small gains like this one, it’ll still be a bit of a historic victory.

It also has NZ First still solidly under threshold, assuming they have rounded their polling up, or down less than one per mille. (CB unfortunately rounds its public results to the nearest percent, which is fine for conveying a general level of accuracy, but terrible for doing maths on them) There’s a possibility under this poll that they could win an electorate seat and come in with as many as five MPs if an election happened during the polling period, but no possibility of being over 5% unless this poll is rogue.

As you can see above, the possibility of an outright Labour government is at a dismissably low level of support, probably suggesting that the RR result had them coming in on the higher end of their margin of error, and that Labour’s support is much more likely to be close to 45% or 46% right now, which is still incredibly respectable. It’s also weird, because since last election campaign, Labour has generally done better in this poll than in the Reid Research one. The margin of error here is technically just large enough that a House where both the Greens and NZF are under 5% and the Nats slightly exceed the Govt vote is technically possible, it’s just ridiculously unlikely.

The minor party results, despite looking a bit different in the two polls, probably reflect their normal leans of their polling methods, as RR overpolled NZ First just a little before the election while underpolling the Greens, and CB probably did the reverse, so expect each party to be somewhere between the two results.

Nothing to report on regarding Bridges and Ardern here: preferred Prime Minister doesn’t really tell us much at all about actual opinion of them, so refer to the previous Pollwatch to see how much New Zealand hates Simon.

Overall, while this isn’t a headline-grabbing poll, it’s really important as it has confirmed three important things:

  • That Labour and the Greens are both doing strong and are endorsed by the public.
  • That New Zealand First is struggling in Government and is currently under-threshold, with the usual caveat that the first rule of New Zealand Politics is not to count Winston Peters out while he’s still alive. (and be prepared for rumours of his demise to be greatly exaggerated)
  • That despite the suggestion of the Reid Research poll, suggestions that Labour could currently govern alone if they called a snap election are not necessarily true.

As much as I support the current government over the alternatives, that last one does have me breathing a sigh of relief. After seeing the impunity National took having to deal with only needing a few extra votes, I wouldn’t be very keen to see a Labour Party that I have minor disagreements with not needing any extra votes.


13 comments on “Pollwatch: Colmar Brunton 18/02/2019 ”

  1. Hanswurst 1

    the first rule of New Zealand Politics is not to count Winston Peters out while he’s still alive.

    After observing the past few decades of NZ politics, I’m not convinced that even death would be enough to rule the fellow out permanently.

  2. mosa 2

    Ah the temptation to call a snap election on these numbers.
    It is hard to see at this point a rerun of 2002 when Helen went to the country three months early on July 27th.
    We have a stable government but you can never rule anything out.
    Harold Wilson once said ” a week is a long time in politics ”
    A very different landscape we may face if she goes full term into 2020.


  3. patricia bremner 3

    This Government is resonating with people because it is making steady efforts.

    Those who want the foot off the fiscal pedal need to look at global issues and risks.

    Running a steady ship sells us as stable to trading partners and the world.

    The biggest problem will be the money poured into an anti Government rhetoric by the right. National is running a programme funded by oil to try to undermine the baby steps of banning further oil and gas searches.

    Further, they are gathering councils who are fighting recognising Climate Change and what that might mean. 23 of them currently. So it is pleasing to see the Public approval of Government is increasing, for convincing people of the dire state of our water ways seas biodiversity and infrastructure will be a difficult fight.

    Already the Opposition is mocking the basis of the Wellbeing Budget as “Cloud Cukoo Land” making fun of the markers. So the battle for hearts and minds begins.

    Polls are not proof of success, but they sure help build Political Capital, that may need to be spent to achieve this Coalition’s goals.

  4. swordfish 4

    So … that’s that Theory out the Window, then …

    On Feb 11 (following the Newshub Reid Research Poll) … Young Master Farrar (Kiwiblog) explained away the apparent swing thusly:

    “Governments often get a bump in January as it is the quiet season and there is no Parliament”

    (although he also threw a potpourri of other explanations in for good measure … if you’re not satisfied with these excuses then I have others)


    And now, Nat-aligned commentator Ben Thomas has made similar claims (albeit with a slight twist) on RNZ Morning Report … suggesting that summer polls always boost Govt support because people are feeling highly contented … the summer breeze apparently making them feel fine, blowing like the jasmine through their mind:

    I think there’s a bit of a caution. Both of these polls came very shortly after the summer break, and when you look at polls over a year, the government of the day does best when people feel best about themselves. When do people feel best about themselves? Well, it’s when they’re on holiday, when they’re looking at barbeques… when the sun is shining.

    Andrew Geddis then speculatively raised some doubts on twitter … doubts that were answered by statistician Thomas Lumley:

    I looked at data from 2002-9-1 to the 2017 election (collated by @ellis2013nz ) for Labour or Nat according to who was in govt. Adjusting for pollster and for an overall time trend (3 df spline) the estimated seasonal trend (peak to trough) was about 0.4% with std error 0.4%.

    So, very weak evidence of any trend, and very small estimated size. (Source: Twitter)

    See also Lumley’s Blog:


  5. Michelle 5

    I wouldn’t write Winstone of he is a maverick that man I have never voted for him but
    who knows what will happen next year

  6. That_guy 6

    Nice graphs. Nerd alert: apologies if you’ve seen this.


    The short version: NZF gets to appear more important in graphs because they chose black for their colour, and strong colours can be kept in focus longer, making them appear more dominant.

    • Dukeofurl 6.1

      Dont think you can apply that to line graphs. The CDU example is a large block of black , so yes does stand out. NZF is normally a think black line near the horizontal axis. The line graph also shows the numerical values which those colour charts do not ,so NZF isnt a guesstimate of its results

  7. Looks like NZF will be Gone Burger at the next Election 2020, as Labour and Jacinda are powering ahead, the Economy is growing strongly and the Greens are showing stability and sensible policies.

    Looks like a Labour White Wash or a Labour/Greens Coalition, National will be in Opposition for the next two terms and NZF will disappear when NZF doesn’t meet the 5% threshold at the next Election, Winston will probably hang up his boots, go fishing and have a rest.

    • Dukeofurl 7.1

      If they are at 4% in a poll it means they would make it as older people vot more often than polls allow

      eg Colmar Brunton had NZF at 4.9% last poll before 2017 election- actual result was 7.2% ie outside margin of error

      Greens were at 8% , actual vote was 1.7% down at 6.3%.

      • DOF I think you are right I think a lot of people who vote NZF do not admit so publicly, people either like Winston NZF or they hate him, depends on your personality and what you want to believe from MSM.

        Winston tells it as he he sees it and many people today appear to be looking at current world/national/local issues through rose tinted glasses.

  8. ken 8

    I think the polls will get better yet for the government as people see that they’re actually confronting issues instead of pretending that they don’t exist.

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