Written By: - Date published: 8:32 pm, May 27th, 2018 - 88 comments
Categories: greens, labour, national, nz first, polls - Tags: judith collins, labour-green government, MMP, pollwatch, reid research, simon bridges, teal deal, threshold
Those of you watching TV3 or scouring the web for news recently may have caught a pretty interesting poll.
In some respects, it doesn’t say anything too dramatically different than February’s Colmar Brunton poll, except it says it worse for National and New Zealand first, both. While results for minor parties aren’t yet publicly available, that looks to be roughly where most of the change has been- there’s a 3% or so lift that probably went to some combination of TOP, the Māori Party, and/or the Conservatives since last poll, where the highest of the three was registering at 1, meaning we would probably expect a similar result for at least one of them to New Zealand First.
In others, the fact that National continues to stall relative to its performance both in the election and in polls earlier in the year is clearly worrying the Opposition. Case in point, they’re spinning like crazy:
Labour will be disappointed to have had no lift in the polls from the budget. Lab on 42% nat 45%. Our 45% is a reflection on our leader and the whole Nat team #proudnat
— Paula Bennett (@paulabennettmp) May 27, 2018
Excellent Newshub poll result for National. National 45%. Labour 42%. Labour’s budget was clearly a flop.
— Simeon Brown (@SimeonBrownMP) May 27, 2018
In terms of probabilities, even with NZF polling so low that statistically they’re guaranteed to be out of the picture, (more on that in a bit) National is barely gaining traction from that large boost to their fortunes gifted to them by the party threshold.
I ran my usual 2,000-simulation run based on this poll, and they only manage to get a 13.3% chance of winning if a general election returned similar results to this poll. That’s pretty negligible as chances go, especially with the fact we’re 2.5 years out from the next expected general election with no sign of an appetite to bring it forward just yet.
There is a marginally small chance here the Greens will be under threshold, of 8.4%. You’ll note this is lower than the chance of a national government- the balance of cases are where Labour and the Greens score 60 seats, but ACT wins Epsom without winning a list seat and thus breaks the tie in National’s favour. (That 0.5% of results with a tied Parliament are where National win 60 seats but ACT loses Epsom- I do include a 5% chance of that happening since being surprised by the Māori Party dropping out of Parliament this election)
Also worth noting:
There is zero chance, despite what Newshub implies, that the Greens will even look at today’s National Party as a valid coalition partner. You would need 75% of Green delegates at our AGM to agree to even consider a coalition deal from them, and the perception that we could do so tends to hurt us in polling. Implying such a deal would even be considered is pretty mischievious. Let’s note there was a strong reaction here as well:
So ACT isn’t included in the Labour/Greens numbers because that would be ridiculous right? And yet lumping Greens in with National… pic.twitter.com/gwTTkMOx8z
— John Hart (@farmgeek) May 27, 2018
Hey Newshub, this graphic is severely misleading. The Greens will never go with National, they simply can’t get back into power on their numbers. pic.twitter.com/PqVAWDLgeY
— Max (@max_tweedie) May 27, 2018
And finally, should we really count New Zealand First out on 2.4%? Well, while I’m not necessarily assuming they’ll get back, (they polled better than this prior to 2011 and managed to fall out of Parliament) I will note that this is in line with trends under the Clark government: NZF tends to poll very poorly when it’s actually in power, but one measure to look at is the volatility of their polling- if it’s consistent within a narrow range under the threshold, that might indicate they’re genuinely there. If it’s volatile, like it was in 2008 polling, even when it’s under the threshold, combine that with their tendency to get a big pre-election boost and they may be coming back. NZF polled 2.5-4.5% throughout 2008,
but managed a surprise 5.7% result on election night after 3 years in government and their Party Leader being charged with a crime. CORRECTION: Apparently I should be a bit more cautious about writing while I’m sick- I read off the 2005 results for NZ First by accident instead of the 2008 results, where they actually slipped under threshold and polling was roughly right about them, so we should be a bit more skeptical of their ability to rebound. In ’99 they also lost more than half their support after entering govt, which might suggest the lower polling here is real, assuming the volatility between the two different polls for NZF calms down. I don’t think we should assume Winston is actually out for sure just yet. What should really be worrying NZF is that they’re back to their old, low polling while in government trend and this is with Winston hanging on in Parliament. They’ve got to be doing succession planning for what happens next given his age, and the prospect of a party relying on his bluster to come from behind in the last minute getting back with any of their other MPs in charge, even Shane Jones, doesn’t really seem as likely. NZF will be hoping they can deliver wins that win back those voters lost to other small parties and to Labour over the course of this term in government, and that this is just their usual volatile in-government polling, for a party that does best in opposition.
Naturally, this should also revive debate about whether it’s appropriate to revisit the Electoral Comission’s recommendation to lower the threshold to 4%- ironically, New Zealand First seems to be the barrier to their own salvation here, as Labour has publicly endorsed the recommendation previously, and the Greens have written policy stating they want further electoral reform, but it should be due to non-partisan recommendations from the Electoral Comission, like this one. Maybe New Zealand First will have a quiet rethink of their position in the time until the next election?
Also worth briefly acknowledging is Judith Collins’ appearance in Preferred Prime Minister. To some extent this is not surprising as media have already been openly speculating she might be the alternative to a flagging leadership performance from Simon Bridges. She’s getting about the same as Winston Peters is- 4%, to Bridges’ 9%, which is still pretty low for a new National Party leader, when they normally tend to enjoy a bit of a bump with their transition press, and do better in this poll due to the comparatively larger media presence of National. While this doesn’t necessarily mean a spill is inevitable, it’s not a good look. We could probably tell more with a proper approval rating for Bridges, of course, as even Trump can manage 28% in one of those, and it’s likely a fair amount more of his party then just 9%/44% think he’s doing some degree of okay.