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Pollwatch for Newshub/Reid Research poll, 18th May 2020

Written By: - Date published: 10:00 am, May 19th, 2020 - 53 comments
Categories: campaigning, greens, journalism, Judith Collins, labour, national, nz first, polls, Simon Bridges - Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

(original poll at Newshub)

I’m back with a new edition of Pollwatch for those of you who like some statistical analysis with your speculation!

This was a doozy, definitely proving that UMR wasn’t off-base with the leaked results and that National is giving a disastrous performance, worthy of 2002 Bill English- in fact, literally only 0.1% better than that final 1999 election result for National. If this were the 2020 election, it would be the second-worst National result ever, and the actual worst election under MMP for the Right ever, as in 2002 ACT was at the height of its powers with a 7% result, and its 2020 “bounce” still has it under 2% and only just managing to get an actual caucus back. (It’s worth noting that national polled even worse than this in the lead-up to 2002, though, and election campaigns tend to narrow the result no matter who leads)

Unfortunately most of the graphs here are so boring they’re barely worth looking at- there’s a 100% chance of a Labour-only government if this were the election, something I’ve mentioned before that would be very dangerous in practice and that I hope voters would narrow away from in the election, either by softer Labour supporters considering the Greens, or by natural closing of the gap between parties. That said, the trend still shows that polling is quite volatile since late 2019, likely at least partially due to long periods between polls now that Roy Morgan is out of the New Zealand polling arena.

Newshub also hasn’t given their net approval numbers which actually mean something, so I won’t comment on Preferred Prime Minister polling, other than to note it is as disastrous as expected, and that Bridges and Collins are in a statistical tie for second place, so knives are clearly being sharpened, and perhaps not just by Collins.

That said, I have an entirely new addition to my overall model for you all, as I was working on something to let us know how close we are to National hitting overhang seats, so for the very first time I’ve adapted the Strong Transition Model from the UK’s Electoral Calculus site to allow me to make predictions based on the national vote for which electorates will change hands. This sort of model tends to be the best way to predict the overall number of electorate victories, (1 to ACT, 0 to NZF, 35 to National, 35 to Labour) so please take individual calls with a grain of salt, but those numbers will likely be good predictors as we get closer to election date, if the number of electorate wins becomes relevant. I’ve also corrected one National prediction to a Labour one, as to my knowledge the Greens don’t plan to reprise the very strong campaign in Nelson, so it is very likely to go to the Labour MP factoring that in, and given that nobody is calling Takanini yet, I’m predicting it will go to Labour with a result this strong, which seems fair if we assume it’s a possible bellwether seat like its demographics tentatively suggest it might be.

You’ll also note my model doesn’t predict NZF will win Northland. They’re out of parliament on these results, but they actually can win Northland with a stronger party vote result than in this poll, according to my model, as the exodus of National support might make Peters look like the most attractive option, so put a pin in that electorate race. With some actual way to predict electorates, I’ve updated my model for the assumption that ACT gets one, NZF get none, and as far as we can tell, minor parties also get none.

What this really lets us do though, is predict how many National MPs will retain or lose their seats, and it’s an absolute bloodbath. With 39 seats from the party vote, (down from 56) they get 5 (down from 15) from the list once we assign Nelson to Labour. If we assume their list based on caucus rankings for now, (a reasonable starting point, but likely to have a few adjustments) this gives their List winners as:

2 – Paula Bennett (now list-only, to act as campaign manager)
3 – Paul Goldsmith (ACT to retain Epsom)
7 – Nikki Kaye (Labour to win Auckland Central, predicted 2.8% margin)
9 – Michael Woodhouse (Labour to retain Dunedin North)
11 – Alfred Ngaro (Labour to retain Te Atatu)

Paula Bennett and Paul Goldsmith are absolute necessities to retain, but this actually suggests their list ought to diverge by caucus rankings when you look into who they’ll lose. Let’s start with unranked incumbents, who are gone regardless of election result:

Alastair Scott (retiring)
Amy Adams (retiring)
David Carter (retiring)
Maggie Barry (retiring)
Nathan Guy (retiring)
Nicky Wagner (retiring)
Sarah Dowie (retiring)

Moving on, here are those who’d need to find new employment if National can’t close the gap:

14 – Melissa Lee (Labour to retain Mt Albert)
15 – Chris Bishop (Labour to win Hutt South, predicted 5.9% margin)
17 – Anne Tolley (list-only, “to contest election as Speaker“)
20 – Nick Smith (I’m calling my model wrong here, as Labour could absolutely win this in a two-party race, and as far as I know there are no Green plans to try to win this election in 2020, which upsets how its maths works)
24 – Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (Labour to retain Manukau East)
26 – Brett Hudson (Labour to retain Ōhāriu)
29 – Jian Yang (list-only)
30 – Parmjeet Parmar (Labour to retain Mt Roskill)
33 – Jo Hayes (Labour to retain Christchurch East)
36 – Harete Hipango (Labour to win Whanganui, predicted 4.4% margin)
38 – Denise Lee (Labour to win Maungakiekie, predicted 2.3% margin)
43 – Lawrence Yule (Labour to win Tukituki, predicted 2.3% margin)
44 – Maureen Pugh (Labour to retain West-Coast Tasman)
45 – Nicola Willis (Labour to retain Wellington Central)
47 – Agnes Loheni (list-only)
48 – Paulo Garcia (Labour to retain New Lynn)

…but with potential new blood in the following electorates:

Chris Luxon, candidate for Botany (expected to replace independent incumbent Jamie-Lee Ross)
Unannounced new National candidate for East Coast
Unannounced new National candidate for Invercargill
Tim Costley, candidate for Ōtaki
Simon Watts, candidate for North Shore
Nicola Grigg, candidate for Selwyn
Jake Bezzant, candidate for Upper Harbour

Once we factor in these losses and replacements, there’s some obvious considerations for tweaking National’s list.

A lot of their more senior talent has been shafted by the caucus reshuffle, and that’s very dangerous when your list is going to potentially be cut this close to the wire. If I were a senior National Party official, I’d be looking at bumping Tolley up to #4 or otherwise in single-digits on the list so that I didn’t get embarrassed by losing the assistant-speaker from caucus with my own hubris, and frankly I’d also consider bumping an additional woman up the list too, like Melissa Lee or Parmjeet Parmar, because if they went by caucus rankings alone, a result like this would leave them with eight women out of thirty nine MPs, and an overall very white caucus, too, which would open them up to further criticism that they aren’t even trying to look like New Zealand, and while I don’t like Melissa Lee, she sure as hell is a better pick as a list MP than Alfred Ngaro. They’ll naturally be hoping for another 3-4 list MPs minimum from the campaign, but they shouldn’t count on it- lists should both plan for the worst and offer for the best. The reshuffle has already thrown new blood high into the current caucus rankings, speaking cynically likely because they supported Bridges for leader, and the smokey room setting the list needs to counterbalance that.

On a wider view, if we look at the bloodbath to list-reliant MPs in opposition, it’s worth noting that Labour had similar issues in the 2014 election, and arguably are still recovering from them. It might make more sense for the competence of our parliament to set the size of parliament such that we have a list seat for every electorate seat, to limit the losses of senior MPs and institutional knowledge. That would, of course, give us 142 MPs this election, but that’s not completely ridiculous.

I hoped you all enjoyed the foray into the consequences of who wins and who loses- I’ll definitely come back to that later when the campaign is officially open and we have lists for National and Labour and I can tell you who might be in as well.


It’s also worth noting that as this is a statistical model, it’s likely in the election that Labour will lose a few electorates, and pick up additional ones from National, but if they’ve gained from 2017, which seems very likely right now, they’ll retain any electorate losers on the list, anyway, unless they’ve been badly demoted, so unfortunately I can’t tell you very much interesting about that until lists are released- and I’m certainly not going to go off the first draft of the Green list yet, given that voting is still in progress on that one, and it may be adjusted by the Executive afterwards if necessary.

Also, any candidates with a margin smaller than 3% are in fact very marginal calls by the model and could go either way- but it’s likely that most such upsets might be balanced out by losses of existing Labour electorates that this model can’t predict easily, or additional seats changing hands that it doesn’t accurately predict to. The idea is more to get at the right overall number of electorates for each party.

53 comments on “Pollwatch for Newshub/Reid Research poll, 18th May 2020 ”

  1. Anne 1

    Have a listen to Michelle Boag. Starts 5:40 min in:

    https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2020/05/end-is-nigh-for-simon-bridges-who-may-have-just-two-weeks-left-as-leader-tova-o-brien-michelle-boag.html

    Interesting body language. Furious at the result. Does a Matthew Hooton style hate on Jacinda Ardern. But she's a seasoned political player and her predictions as to what will happen and how it will happen resemble your predictions Matthew Whitehead.

    Bridges will be go in two weeks according to Michelle. Not willing to pick the new leader.

    Edit: she describes the daily Covid 19 updates as “Cindy’s kindy”. 😡

    • Matthew Whitehead 1.1

      I'd prefer it if we never had to listen to Michelle Boag ever again, personally, but Richard Harman seems to be in agreement that a coup is poised to strike right now if the next poll doesn't turn things around:

      https://www.politik.co.nz/2020/05/19/can-bridges-survive/

      That said, it sounds like the sticking factor is that there's no clear winner for who would replace him yet, so rolling him would be gambling on a very uncertain future. I also don't think either Muller, Mitchell, or Collins has much of a chance of reversing things even if they do roll him now, but they'd of course be able to blame it on Bridges putting them in too big a hole if they really want to roll the dice. My initial prediction on his ascension that he'd last to 2020 and then get rolled after the election is looking pretty close to accurate, even if I got the exact timing wrong. We'll see on Friday, I guess. 😉

      • Anne 1.1.1

        I'd prefer it if we never had to listen to Michelle Boag ever again.

        She's so horrible she fascinates me.

        • Muttonbird 1.1.1.1

          Lol. Boag put ethnic MPs in "air quote marks". Evil person.

        • Frida 1.1.1.2

          Me too! She's also very dumb. Over lockdown she said well this is Covid-19 there must have been 18 Covids before and we survived. Oh dear.

          • roy cartland 1.1.1.2.1

            OMG that's brilliant! Better than a Tom Sainsbury gag. Haven't had such a laugh for ages, thanks for that!

          • RedLogix 1.1.1.2.2

            LOL just used that gag myself. Good one yes

          • Anne 1.1.1.2.3

            She would have thought she was being clever when she said that.

        • woodart 1.1.1.3

          boag, played by joanna lumley (patsy). everytime I see one ,I think of the other.

      • RedLogix 1.1.2

        Of course the similarity with Labour dumping Little for Ardern must be tempting for National hoping for a similar miracle.

        But it worked for Labour largely because Andrew Little stood down voluntarily with grace and immediate support for the new leader. And has since acquitted himself loyally. Can't see Bridges doing this.

        Plus of course National have no-one to touch Ardern. The only one I'd rate is Nikki Kaye and she's in a marginal.

        • Matthew Whitehead 1.1.2.1

          It also worked because people loved Ardern even as deputy and she drove the party to an immediate resurgence despite a complicated and bruising campaign to that point. There is nobody in National right now who seems to have a presence that could compete with that.

          (Honestly, National has always struggled with positive campaigning, the best they’ve managed to do under MMP is to just slice away a thousand times at Clark and bleed her to death while vaguing their way through the campaign)

          • observer 1.1.2.1.1

            Yeah, "National could do a late Ardern switch" is a false comparison.

            It's the first term. National were going for a fourth. Swing voters were open to change.

      • ianmac 1.1.3

        "I'd prefer it if we never had to listen to Michelle Boag ever again,…"

        You do realise that since she is the best that they have as non-MP spokesman, we could presume that the basket is otherwise empty.

    • "You have had the five million locked up in Cindy's Kindy with a daily political party broadcast with an incredibly compliant media who have been in her bubble."

      Jacinda's been holding us hostage, and the media are all apparently prostrate at the altar of Saint Jacinda the Most Holy (which is news to Tova O'Brien and her well-thumbed catalogue of dumb, accusatory questions I imagine). Boag's a hideous old buzzard who gets wheeled out whenever they want a soundbite from a slightly unhinged partisan muppet. I wish she'd go back to roosting in her dead tree in the Quagmire of Irrelevance.

      • Matthew Whitehead 1.2.1

        I'm also amused she hit out at the press conferences the day Ardern has stopped featuring in them because the political issues aren't as pressing anymore.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 1.3

      "Cindy's kindy" is pure envy – 'Boag bile'. Boag's rogues will be bogging themselves laugh

  2. RedBaronCV 2

    Why did Roy Morgan stop doing the polls? Where they being paid by some one who stopped when the right lost?

    Fascinating that Michelle called Jacinda by a silly name. It always feels pretty immature to me – playground stuff – but it does show who the adults in the room are.

    • Matthew Whitehead 2.1

      I think Roy Morgan was doing existing commercial surveys into the NZ market and added their polls on as a promotional exercise. Apparently it either stopped making economic sense as promotion, or their business in New Zealand might have dried up a bit?

      I've asked them on social media before what happened and if there is any intention to possibly return, but never got any answer.

    • Gabby 2.2

      Bogey doesn't realise that namecalling is infantile.

  3. Thank you Mathew. Very interesting. What do you make of Luxton's low key entry to politics?

    • Matthew Whitehead 3.1

      Didn't like him in private business, don't think much of him yet in politics, but we'll really have to give him a year or so to show his stuff before we know, I think.

      I don't buy the idea that you can parachute an outsider into the leadership any faster than that, anyway, so if Bridges is gone now or post-election, Luxon isn't a credible replacement.

  4. RedBaronCV 4

    Also do any of these scenario's show Simon losing his seat? And are we likely to see any sort of power plays around some of the electorate seats as sitting MP's who are in marginal seats or looking at an unworkable list place try to shore up their chances? Nick Smith?

    • Matthew Whitehead 4.1

      So all the unmentioned seats are either retained by National at this level of polling, or their retention by Labour wouldn't unseat any incumbent National list MPs.

      For clarity, National's expected retentions are:

      Bay of Plenty
      Botany
      Clutha-Southland
      Coromandel
      East Coast
      East Coast Bays
      Hamilton East
      Hamilton West
      Helensville
      Hunua
      Ilam
      Invercargill
      Kaikōura
      Nelson (if you believe my model over me 😉 )
      New Plymouth
      North Shore
      Northcote
      Northland (if NZ First doesn't gain back some ground before the election)
      Ōtaki
      Pakuranga
      Papakura
      Rangitata
      Rangitīkei
      Rodney
      Rotorua
      Selwyn
      Tāmaki
      Taranaki-King Country
      Taupō
      Tauranga
      Upper Harbour
      Waikato
      Waimakariri
      Waitaki
      Whangarei

      Again though, this model is intended to primarily tell us the number of electorates, and individual calls might be wrong or trade-off with seats I've pegged as Labour retentions.

      • gingercrush 4.1.1

        Interesting but why do you have National retaining both Hamilton seats. I think they're likely to swing Labour's way as will Waimakariri and East Coast. Those are seats Labour held up till the momentum changing 2005 onwards. Even Invercargill and New Plymouth are possibilities.

  5. Peter 5

    When Boag comes on the radio I turn it off. I can still remember her after an election years ago the morning after National had lost. On air with Kerre Woodham she was hoping that things would go bad in New Zealand. That would have her party back. She was in her 'born to rule' mode.

    I enjoyed watching this interview. She reminded me of a grotesque dead mako on the beach. I hope they cleaned the studio after she left.

    • Matthew Whitehead 5.1

      switching away from Boag or switching off is correct procedure, IMO. If you have to watch her, it should be to formulate a detailed complaint to the broadcaster about why they should stop featuring her and bring on someone relevant. It's fine if they're a Nat, (all parties deserve to be on the air from time to time) but make it a newer one with some fresh ideas. And they should get themselves some Green and NZF-supporting commentators, too.

      • woodart 5.1.1

        totally agree. time to give free air maskerading as infotainment to all the parties, or none.

  6. mary_a 6

    Simon Bridges is a goner regardless. Could be on the cards he will lose his electorate seat in Tauranga as well, given his recent petulant, nasty behaviour. Who in their right mind would vote for him?

    Whoever leads National prior to or after the election, will be a temporary leader, keeping the seat warm for Luxon.

    • Matthew Whitehead 6.1

      So my model expects Tauranga to be retained with a 17% margin even under this incredibly one-sided poll, which is arguably the worst for the Right since MMP became a thing. A 20-point shift in Tauranga would be a MASSIVE indictment on Bridges, and likely require a result like this when the election happens in order to be practical, and I think things are likely to be closer.

    • JanM 6.2

      'Who in their right mind would vote for him?' A Tauranga Nat, that's who (if you can describe them as being in their right minds) especially after this poll. They'll be scared witless!

      I was at a cocktail party in parliament many years ago and Brian Talboys described being comforted by his local president saying :Don't worry, Brian, they'd vote for you if you were a dead horse, as long as you were a Nat'

      I guess the same will apply here!

      • Anne 6.2.1

        Brian Talboys was one of the gentlemen politicians imo. They existed in both parties and funnily enough outside of parliament they were known to be personal friends.

        Those were the days before PM Muldoon, who changed the political landscape forever.

        • JanM 6.2.1.1

          I agree – as were Doug Carter, George Gair and Les Gandar . My partner at the time was a parliamentary reporter so I saw a bit of these men.And then there was the ghastly Robert Muldoon – undergoing the process of becoming the leader of the Nats. I remember asking Doug Carter why – surely they didn't like him. He agreed but said they thought he could win for them. He was right! Doesn't say much for the average nat voter does it 🙁

  7. JeffB 7

    Michelle is lying again… can’t get National under its bedrock 30% support?

    2002 election 20.93% would suggest otherwise.

    • Peter 7.1

      Funny that. Michelle Boag National Party President 2001-2002.

      • Dennis Frank 7.1.1

        In denial. Not a mere psychological reflex – people can and do subconsciously deselect memories. They get deleted. I've encountered a classic instance in one of my younger brothers, years ago, when I reminded him of something unusual that he did, and got indignant denial. Since it lasted a couple of hours when I visited him, it formed an enduring memory for me – but for him it never happened. His belief is genuine – since we get on fine no grudge can explain it.

        I suspect she has done exactly that due to it being a blot on her interior landscape when it happened.

        • Incognito 7.1.1.1

          Memories don’t get deleted as such, they get buried (repressed) or twisted, especially unpleasant (traumatic) ones.

  8. RedBaronCV 8

    I think the big take away from all this is having much more direct broadcasting of press conferences and even select committees so the opposition get a chance too, rather than having all this filtered through a media lens that is frequently right wing. That way we can all see what is going on. Heck I'd even like to be able to ask some questions myself in these press conferences.

    • Matthew Whitehead 8.1

      Yeah I think actually Bridges is underestimating just how much his ERC performances hurt his brand and his party's popularity rather than enhanced it.

      • RedBaronCV 8.1.1

        yes – I've always urged people at election time to go along to the meetings and actually have a look at the people who want their vote. Mainly because if push comes to shove with a major crisis, then no matter which party, you want somebody with a bit of ability and who has the personal values to be genuinely concerned about their community and want to do the best for their fellow citizens.

        It also has it's moments like when a loud voice behind one goes "who would vote for That!" ( Nat candidate for Ohariu)

  9. observer 9

    Thanks Matthew, that's a really comprehensive round-up. Really detailed.

    FWIW I don't believe it will be as catastrophic for National as some on here imagine. There's some wildly premature celebrating going on. It's good to have a laugh but let's not drift into fantasy.

    The Right combined (not "National" only) is certain to get 40% plus at the election. They did even in 2002. (NZF were not allied to Labour at all, had never been at that stage). But there are fewer options than 2002 (Dunne is done) and no sign of any party breaking through from outside Parliament. So unhappy righties will have to stick with National or back ACT. Winston? It's their very last resort.

    Holding your nose and voting for a lesser evil is what voters do. Ask anybody who voted Blair after Iraq (because not Tory) or will vote Biden (because not Trump) or a hundred other examples from history.

    Expect National voters to do it too.

    • Matthew Whitehead 9.1

      Yes, I expect Labour will lose about 7-8% by election day from their high, (if this is it…) assuming no big political events happen that shift the dynamic further like COVID-19 did. That would still put Labour solidly in a position to govern with the Greens, together with NZF if they find a way back, or alone if somehow both support parties fell under threshold.

    • woodart 9.2

      you are still thinking fpp. dont confuse our system with ones that havent evolved.

      • observer 9.2.1

        I don't really understand your point. RW voters will want to vote for a RW party, regardless of electoral system. Even in Newshub's catastrophic poll, the RW (minus NZF) gets a third of the vote combined. That's despite Bridges tanking, and 91% supporting the lockdown.

        MMP gives those right-leaning voters more options, but fewer now than when MMP started – a legacy of National eating their allies. So National/ACT are likely to keep them.

      • Matthew Whitehead 9.2.2

        Nothing Observer said was typical of an FPP mindset, in my view?

        There tends to be two types of soft supporters- those that are attached to a particular ideology or combination of ideologies that might match well with a particular party, eg. conservative leftists, conservationist ring-wingers, environmentalist leftists, etc…, vs those who might be genuine swing supporters, eg. liberal leftists between Labour and the Greens, conservative centrists between National, Labour, and NZF, right-wing liberals between ACT and National, and right-wing conservatives between NZF and National. Saying that there are roughly 35% of voters who tend to vote for a roughly right-aligned or conservative-aligned party even when their performance is absolutely dire is not unreasonable- in fact 2002 tends to support that if one notes that United Future was quite conservative and right-wing.

        I should also point out that analysing electorates under MMP is, from a systemic viewpoint at least, (although not necessarily 100% in voter behaviour) functionally identical to FPP.

    • Phil 9.3

      … unhappy righties will have to stick with National or back ACT. Winston? It's their very last resort. Holding your nose and voting for a lesser evil is what voters do.

      Depends on if there is still an 'anything to keep the greens out of government' bloc like there was in 2002 who voted Labour instead. I tend to think it's a significantly diminished chunk of the population, but who really knows?

  10. observer 10

    Anyway, the Newshub report tonight strongly suggests Bridges is going to be rolled next Tuesday. Even allowing for media hype, it's obviously now more than just gossip.

    Wouldn't it be funny if the TVNZ poll was better for National, which they often are, and so the plotters lose their nerve …

    Save Our Simon!

    • woodart 10.1

      your second paragraph is probably whats going to happen. drowning people clutch at any straw. and plotters often lack individual courage. since the nats dont have an obvious replacement, various different plotters have only a few backers. perhaps the nats should do the decent thing and split into two or three right wing parties.

      • Muttonbird 10.1.1

        It shows me they are all gutless and don't believe their own abilities. How are they to convince the NZ public of their abilities if they don't believe in themselves?

        Imagine Bridges’ phone calls tonight. Starts off, “are you taping me?”

    • Anne 10.2

      Wouldn't it be funny if the TVNZ poll was better for National.

      Likely. Colmar Brunton has a general bias towards National. Not saying it is deliberate, but something to do with the way they conduct their polls – maybe more landlines than Reid Research.

    • Matthew Whitehead 10.3

      RNZ is now reporting that Bridges has defensively called a caucus vote on leadership, so 'shub was definitely correct about the knives being out. A coup is never a coup until it's actually attempted, ofc.

      https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/417070/power-play-it-s-all-on-as-simon-bridges-appears-to-call-challengers-bluff

      The Colmar Brunton (One News) poll has gone backwards and forwards on who out of National and Labour it tends to favour relative to the Reid Research poll. RR had Labour in a weaker position than CB before the 2017 election, and it actually got closer to getting things right. I wouldn't be so concerned on what their individual lean is so much as whether their methodology causes them to be bad predictors of the election given their timeframe. CB is, in my opinion, the less accurate of the two polls, but that has nothing to do with where it places Labour relative to National.

      I think CB would need to show National at something more like 38% or 40% to put Simon in a secure position for now. What he's probably hoping is to buy Collins off so he can keep the party stable under his leadership until the election. I think he's gone after the election regardless of what happens, quite frankly, but it might not be immediately after.

  11. millsy 11

    The voters dont trust National not to impose austerity if they win.

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  • Entries open for the 2021 Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards
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  • Speech to National Remembrance Service on the 10th anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake
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