Reid Research Poll: Nats, Key slump.

Written By: - Date published: 7:39 pm, June 2nd, 2015 - 98 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, Judith Collins, Minister for International Embarrassment, Politics, polls - Tags: , ,

The National Party and the pervy PM have taken a bit of a hiding in the latest Reid Research poll. Down 3.4% in the party ratings and a whopping 4.6% in the preferred PM poll, National have some thinking to do. And Judith Collins has some knives to sharpen.

Andrew Little and Winston Peters have both risen in the PM ratings, and the combined opposition party vote has risen 4.4% to just under 50%. The Greens have done particularly well. Down in the margin of error end of the results, the Conservative Party are now out-polling the combined vote of National’s 3 support parties. Well done, Rimmer, you’re really making a difference.

As Winston Peters notes, the gloss is coming off and the mojo is lost. Anybody know if Sunsilk have a hair care product designed to put the shine back into a middle aged man’s ponytail fetish?

DoNotLink to the TV station who publicised the poll here:

Results:

Party:

National 46.4% – down 3.4 percent
Labour: 30.4 percent – up 1.3 percent
Green: 11.1 percent – up 1.8 percent
New Zealand First: 8.1 percent – up 1.3 percent

PM:

John Key: 39.4 percent – down 4.6 percent
Andrew Little: 11.6 percent – up 1.8 percent
Winston Peters: 11.2 percent – up 3.6 percent

Ponytail?:

Went too far: 52 percent
Was just “horsing around”: 42 percent

Previous Reid Research polls here.

 

 

 

 

98 comments on “Reid Research Poll: Nats, Key slump. ”

  1. Tracey 1

    polls. we do not. need them.

    • adam 1.1

      Well said Tracey – they are just another part to the Tory scum’s propaganda machine.

      • Colonial Rawshark 1.1.1

        No polling to be conducted in the month before Election Day.

        • Clemgeopin 1.1.1.1

          +1

          Also no reports/news/speculation about poll numbers on any media/blog etc for a month from election day.

          Massive fines/jail terms for any breach.

          • Matthew Hooton 1.1.1.1.1

            You want to jail people glfor speculating about an election result on a blog?

            • felix 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Not that I necessarily agree, but Clem didn’t say anything about “speculating about an election result”.

              • Nessalt

                Election results are a poll dumb dumb

                • Phil

                  “I don’t like what the polls say, therefore they must be banned”.

                  You people are like the Catholic Church. Living in the Stone age.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Is that the reason? Nope.

                    Some people think opinion polls should be banned because they affect election results. Are you capable of conceiving a reasoned argument in rebuttal?

                    I doubt it.

                    • Nessalt

                      No doubt there is some affect on the results as people either don’t vote because it won’t matter, skewing the result, or jumping ship to vote for the winning team which reinforces the policy message of the winning team.

                      But to say that they should be banned because they affect the result is rather shallow. polls have been wrong before and there were no calls to ban them then. what really matters is how the total package of the parties offer, candidates, leader, policy, message discipline and message cut through stands in the eyes of the voter. Labour has not achieved this and don’t even look close to achieving. The greens seem to be realising this as a party and at grassroots level. this is evident in the election of Shaw.

                      It’s not CT, it’s not dirty politics, it’s not that the people of NZ are dumb or so blank that they respond to media manipulation via the polls. it’s that there is no credible large party ready to take the mantle of government and make it work.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      “What really matters…”

                      The fact that polls skew election results doesn’t matter because Labour.

                      This in the context of a one seat majority being the enabler of bribes to Saudi sheep merchants, experimenting on children who don’t live in Epsom, and the Skysore.

                      So not exactly a rebuttal then.

                    • Lanthanide

                      1. If we have polls, the election result may be skewed by them.
                      2. If we don’t have polls, the election result cannot be skewed by them.

                      Why is #2 preferable to #1? Why is it ‘bad’ that the results may be skewed by a poll?

                      By removing polls, you are ensuring voters are *less informed* about the parties they’re choosing between. How is removing information a good idea?

                    • Because they become self-perpetuating, lanth. Arguably, Phil Goff narrowly lost an election because we were told repeatedly by the pollsters it was going to be a National landslide. Don’t bother voting, we already know the outcome. I think a ban on polling in the final week would be a very good thing and an aid to democracy.

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      A ban on all polling activity for a month before election day would be fair. Poll data taken before that date could still be published to ensure there was no undue reduction in press freedoms.

                    • Tracey

                      Nessalt @ http://thestandard.org.nz/reid-research-poll-nats-key-slump/#comment-1024415

                      You actually didnt name a single benefit of having polls, let alone during the election campaign period? How do they serve the public interest?

                    • Tracey

                      Lanth wrote

                      “By removing polls, you are ensuring voters are *less informed* about the parties they’re choosing between. How is removing information a good idea?”

                      They are no more or less informed about the parties than without a poll. The parties are responsible for informing people about them and their policies. Polls tell people what other people think. How is that becoming informed about a party?

                      Sometimes polls are based on questions (not always published in the same article as the result) and numbers, not always explained, making for an argument that polls make people less informed not more.

                    • Nessalt

                      @ Tracey, polls can help public make up their minds. They can also be a call to action if it seems a party you oppose seems to be gaining traction on a policy you think will damage the country at large. They help political parties form opinions around policy in the same matter.

                      Why the fixation on polls only being bad? surely it’s how the stats are used rather than the stats themselves?

                  • vaughan little

                    how’s modernity working out for you?

                    • Rob

                      I think the arguments about self-perpetuating polls were disproved in the UK election. Polls leading right up to the exit polls and result were very favourable to Govt change. The actual results were dramtically different.

                    • Sort of, Rob. The Ashcroft polls in the final days predicted that the Tories were going to be close to winning. I suspect the nature of FPP exaggerated the final result, as well.

                      The point is that that polls, and the media, have a disproportionate effect on the general population’s perception of what is happening in a campaign. Which can lead to situations like Goff’s, where something like a mere 25 thousand votes would have tipped the balance.

                      So a period of quiet reflection before polling day might get people thinking more about policy than personality.

                • felix

                  Nessalt, think of it this way.

                  If I say “I think such and such will win or lose votes or seats or whatever”, that’s me speculating.

                  That’s quite different to saying “According to science, everyone in NZ thinks such and such will win or lose or whatever”.

                  No-one proposed not being allowed to speculate on the result of an election.

                  This is going to be hard, I know, but read the comments again, in context,

                  • Nessalt

                    You are correct that when you make two statements like that they are different.

                    but clem said “Also no reports/news/speculation about poll numbers on any media/blog etc for a month from election day.

                    Massive fines/jail terms for any breach.”

                    and you said “Not that I necessarily agree, but Clem didn’t say anything about “speculating about an election result”.

                    going to the polls is a euphemism for having an election. so speculating on any blog about the election result would be illegal if clem had his way.

                    when making a law specifics are what counts. so don’t propose them if they aren’t thought through.

                    • felix

                      I can see my suggestion that you read the comments in context was a waste of pixels.

                    • Nessalt

                      yes, you should have thought about pontificating to excuse mouthing off something which was wrong.

                    • felix

                      On the basis of that word salad, I’ll go further and say it was a waste of electricity replying to you at all.

                • Tracey

                  what are their value? What makes them in the public interest? You know they haven’t been used forever? Started to emerge in the 1970’s.

                  So, lay out your clear and concise argument for the public benefit of polls during our democratic election campaign.

            • Robert Glennie 1.1.1.1.1.2

              How is speculating necessarily a poll, Matthew?

            • Clemgeopin 1.1.1.1.1.3

              I was referring to poll numbers, derived from a sample, about the possible results just before the election, for the last one or two weeks at least, to prevent distortion, disappointment, hype, lies, BS, undue influence, self fulfilling prophesies and manipulation by big business, crooks and others running these polling companies.

              For example, courts put restrictions on the publication of certain details in some cases, over riding the freedom of expression. Why can’t parliament enact a law to put some restrictions on the pre-election publication of poll results close to the date of the election? Polls will not be banned, but not allowed to be conducted two weeks prior to the election nor allowed to be published.

              Why do you think there is a law not to do any kind of electioneering, including having hoardings, on the day of the election, for example? Pretty much for the same reasons I stated above.

              Sometimes, some freedoms need to be restricted for the greater good of justice and fairness, or for the good of democracy, in this case.

              • Tracey

                It does seem odd that any polls are NOT within the investigative power of the Electoral commission, during an election.

                • Clemgeopin

                  Because fraudulent crooked manipulation can not be proved. It is supposed to be a ‘random’ sample, supposed to be ‘scientific’, supposed to be based on ‘statistics’, supposed to be based on ‘truthful answers’ from those surveyed, supposed to be from ‘reputable’ polling companies etc……all grey areas, highly susceptible to manipulation, dirty politics and the perpetration of a possible massive or subtle fraud in favour of a particular political group or the other or in the interests of some crooked moneyed people!

        • Tracey 1.1.1.2

          at least. Why not none for the period of the campaign. Let’s imagine people can think for themselves, nay, let’s encourage them.

    • Disraeli Gladstone 1.2

      I’ve always thought that polls are worthwhile to have, especially in an MMP type situation where coalition building is important. The thing is we have to understand how polls work.

      The way politicos react to them is draining that belief because it’s clear we don’t get them. 2014 we had most people confidently ignoring them because they didn’t “feel right”. Now we have TRP plucking out the one poll that agrees with him, ignoring two others, and galloping full tilt at a windmill.

      If everyone was sat down and taught things about long-term trends, MOE, statistical noise and so on, polls would be considerably beneficial. Seeing that we live in the real world though…

      • adam 1.2.1

        As we live in the real world

        I try to ignore polls and work with people who are in trouble – that group is forever increasing, and getting more desperate. These people won’t vote generally, now I’m asking – I’m finding polls, or more specifically, poll trends just make them feel more disempowered.

        Polls are just one more cog in a corrupt wheel. And whilst they may be useful Disraeli Gladstone, they have been co-opted for

        amoral, propaganda, purpose.

      • Tracey 1.2.2

        Yes we do have to understand the questions (and be told them) and all the explanations about how they are worked… and that needs to be published in the same, and any reference to the poll.

        How do you explain the need for polls pre- MMP?

        Parties tell voters more about who they will go into coalition with, or not (or in NZF case fudge it). So, no polls during the campaign period allows people to consider the polls for your purposes the rest of the time but for 3 months… just 3 months every 3 years we can trust the people and maybe give them real information instead.

    • Phil 1.3

      (duplicate)

  2. One Anonymous Bloke 2

    Underestimated Right Wing support at election time didn’t they?

    Polls schmolls.

  3. Facetious 3

    I have always believed Grant Robertson will be the next PM. Way to go, Labour.

  4. weka 4

    I’m laughing at the donotlink.

  5. OMBE 5

    A slump…….a triumph of hope over reality ?

  6. felix 6

    Anyone know the dates? Before or after the budget?

    • b waghorn 6.1

      Started the day of the budget

      • felix 6.1.1

        Hmm. Well if the polling period was long enough to pick that up, it doesn’t say much for the glorious-inclusive-reaching-out-to-everyone marketing, does it?

  7. Clemgeopin 8

    TPPP’s (The Parnell Ponytail Puller’s) face tomorrow morning: (Tomorrow’s news today!)

    http://www.perfectlytimedpics.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Not-such-good-sleep-resizecrop–.jpg

    • miravox 8.1

      a Prime Minister doesn’t do that,” says Mr Little.

      Forget the ‘matey-mate’ or hating on Key (whatever your perspective). From now on I’ll refer to TRH Key by his position status not his name – especially when he’s doing something illegal, untrustworthy, cringe-worthy or using his position of power to belittle others.

      ‘Did you see what the PM did/said? A Prime Minister doesn’t do/say that’.

  8. McFlock 9

    meh
    So three polls released within a few days go from something like 54% down to 46.6%, and all claim an MoE of around 3%.

    • Colonial Rawshark 9.1

      yep, pretty much

    • Clemgeopin 9.2

      Yes, three swallows don’t make a summer.

      Roy Morgan poll : [ May 4-17, 2015, 866 surveyed, 5% undecided, Margin OE=3.5%?]

      National=54%,
      Maori Party=1%,
      ACT party=1%,
      Dunne’s UF=0%

      Total for govt parties=56%

      Labour=25.5%
      Greens=10.5%
      NZ First=6.0%

      Total for opposition parties=42%

      Outside parties:
      The Cons=1%
      Others=1%

      Preferred PM: Not given (as far as I could see)
      ——————————————————————–
      ONE News Colmar Brunton Poll: [23-27 May]
      Surveyed=1003, Undecided=13%, Margin of E=3.1%

      National=48%,
      Maori Party=1%,
      ACT party=Not given ? (0 to 0.5% at most?)
      Dunne’s UF=Not given ? (0% Pathetic!)

      Total for govt parties=50% (?)

      Labour=31%
      Greens=10.0%
      NZ First=7.0%

      Total for opposition parties=48%

      Outside parties:
      The Cons=2%
      Others=Not given

      Preferred PM:
      John Key 44%, Andrew Little 9%, Winston Peters 9%.
      ———————————————————————
      3 News-Reid Research poll: [May 21-27, 1000 voters, M of E: 3.1 percent, Undecided : Not given (?)

      National=46.4%,
      Maori Party=1.1%,
      ACT party= 0.5% (stupid)
      Dunne’s UF=0.0% (Ha, ha!)

      Total for govt parties=48% (?)

      Labour=30.4%
      Greens=11.1%
      NZ First=8.1%

      Total for opposition parties=50%

      Outside parties:
      The Cons=1.9%
      Others=Not given

      Preferred PM:
      John Key 39.4%, Andrew Little 11.6%, Winston Peters 11.2%

      ————–
      Q : Did the despicable pony-tail pulling pathetic PM go too far?

      * Yes, Went too far= 52 percent
      * Was just “horsing around” like an idiot = 42 percent

      See the video here with some of his serial pony tail pulling being caught on camera for the entire world to see and vomit in unbelievable disgust. This same guy crucified Ms Helen Clark for minor exaggerated so called ‘serious scandals’ like the picture she kindly signed for charity! Remember that? Was that worse than the completely callous disgusting behaviour Key has shown towards a helpless waitress repeatedly, even after being asked not to?

      I do not understand why Key did not resign straight after when this shameful story came out.

      http://www.3news.co.nz/nznews/john-keys-popularity-drops-in-latest-poll-2015060218#axzz3boKiwMqu

      • Colonial Rawshark 9.2.1

        He didn’t resign because the MSM didn’t call for his head on a platter

  9. maui 10

    Hooray! We got this. Bring on 2017 when we crash the castle gates and the villagers can run free once again. And the halls are decorated with rich tapestries of cumulative Reid Research graphs.

  10. tricledrown 11

    Key and Cronies should be riding high with Prince Andrews visit.
    Budget news.
    But this pole doesn’ t add up.
    When you look at local news hospital and aged care funding cuts,
    Iraqi Deployment backfiring,
    The Dairy payout
    Agricultural prices across the board are declining except for butter.
    The housing crisis in Auckland and Christchurch.
    The Northland by election .
    National are in deep shit .

    • Clemgeopin 11.1

      “National are in deep shit’

      But the fools are too cocky to see that, just as they are too arrogant to see the shit they have put New Zealand under for the long term.

      • David H 11.1.1

        But they don’t care about the future. With the Nats is all about the now, and how to maximise the profits to themselves, and their mates. And as for the rest of NZ? It can go screw.

  11. cancerman 12

    Does no one acknowledge at least academically that this was a bias poll in that in the same poll interview they asked about the ponytail gate. In this context this is a very good result to National. Before any criticism think about what I’m saying, especially in terms of the other polls that didn’t seem to include the ponytail gate questions.

    • It entirely depends on the sequence of the questions asked. Reid record the answers in the order given in the post, which suggests that’s also the way they ask them. The question about the assaults on the cafe worker would almost certainly be asked last, just for the reason you give. In push polling, the reverse is true. However, I think we can trust that Reid Research would have enough experience and respect for their own reputation that they wouldn’t muddy the waters.

      But, interesting observation all the same.

      • cancerman 12.1.1

        Agreed. It would be interesting to know though because of the three recent polls this is the one that has been the worst for National, Roy Morgan being abnormally positive, but the only one to question about the ponytail gate which is obviously bad.

        • Puddleglum 12.1.1.1

          Hi cancerman,

          I think (hope) that te reo putake is correct in terms of the sequencing of questions in the poll.

          But if that isn’t correct then, interestingly, your theory suggests that reminding people of Key’s ‘indiscretions’ and failings is a useful strategy to put people off him and National.

          Yet, received wisdom (on both the right and left) is that such a strategy is ineffective and even counterproductive (i.e., it increases support for Key and National).

          Which is it?

    • Clemgeopin 12.2

      Why the hell shouldn’t the survey ask people’s opinion about the Prime Minister’s dirty behaviour? Do you want to shield Key? Why? Would Key have let off any opposition leader or Helen Clark off for such a bad conduct? This is the first professional poll I have seen where the public have been asked for their opinion on this issue.

      Are you suggesting that if that question was not there, then his popularity would have been higher? I don’t see how. I am actually surprise that his rating is still so high after not only the P-tail issue, but even after all the shocking economic/social dishonest lying stuff this government has been indulging in for the last 7 years and also just lately!

      • cancerman 12.2.1

        No I’m not suggesting that that subject shouldn’t been polled but it has been polled before, at the time of the original reporting.

        I’m I suggesting that had that question been not there would his popularity been higher? Maybe. Poll can be easily manipulated by language and lines of questioning. This is pretty well proven.

  12. Raf 13

    Whether or not polls mean anything, the fact that they do have an effect on the general populace – and therefore MPs – has to be factored in, I suppose.

  13. Steve Alfreds 14

    A trend over a number of polls is what’s needed. Here’s hoping……..

  14. ropata 15

    Key’s dirty politics over reached when it snuffed out Campbell Live. Have the press at last realised that this crooked PM is not the Messiah? It would have been a scary wake-up call for many.

    When Key falls it will be a long way down for the Nats, after shamelessly feeding the personality cult and stroking reporters egos for years

  15. millsy 16

    Nats are still in the box seat though.

  16. Observer (Tokoroa) 17

    .. a question or two ..

    Who in this world needs a Prime Minister with a passion for molesting the hair of little blonde girls, on the streets.

    Please name the nation that needs such an operative in charge.

    And you adorers of this man who has profoundly disgraced New Zealand, please tell us why the whole world made him look like the creepy laughing stock he happens to be. He is a man of wealth and power who uses the weak. A very unhealthy situation for ourselves and our children.

    Get real National. Get real over Farrar’s manipulative “Princess Parties”. Get real over Slater’s sickening crawl to the underhand national Caucus. Get real media moguls – else you will be seen as assisting a patently undesirable situation.

    The only time in history that New Zealand gets a mention world wide, is when a sick prime minister takes his hands to the heads of innocent little girls. The rest of the time New Zealand is an unknown set of shaky isles somewhere near the bottom of the planet.

    We must rebuild our reputation and sack the current government and the people he buys off with offers and asset sales that look like “bribes” and “pay backs” in colloquial language – such as the Sky City Casino menage.

  17. Puckish Rogue 18

    Well done on the poll result, maybe it’s game on for the election

  18. Brutus Iscariot 19

    Funny how the RM was a rogue outlier/a disgrace that showed the general worthlessness of opinion polls .

    Now this one’s out and it’s all go, polls are great, game on, National on the slide.

    Forgive my skepticism.

    • Puckish Rogue 19.1

      You do know I vote National…

      • Colonial Rawshark 19.1.1

        People should go back on the Standard and read the positive comments on how good the polls were looking for the Left in the first half of 2014 – and how did that end up? This attention on polls draws us to focussing on the wrong things.

        • Puckish Rogue 19.1.1.1

          The danger isn’t polls, the danger is ignoring what polls are telling you. Theres a very good reason why the PM thanked David Farrar and thats because his polling was accurate

          Is this poll accurate, I don’t know but it is saying something

          • felix 19.1.1.1.1

            These polls have almost no relationship to the kind of ultra specific and targeted polling people like Farrar do.

            They’re not looking for the same type of information at all.

            • te reo putake 19.1.1.1.1.1

              Quite right, felix. Organisations like Farrar’s aren’t that interested in what people think, but they do take an active interest in what they can make people think.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Push_poll

              • Colonial Rawshark

                I think National has a far more sophisticated approach than push polling in its polling strategies. They are interested in getting a clear idea of where opinion and attitudes on specific key issues lie. That data is used to craft soundbites and policies which resonate with those fracture lines in the electorate.

            • Puckish Rogue 19.1.1.1.1.2

              Fair call

    • I share your scepticism, Brutus. However, I note that the many, many comments on the earlier posts on the RM and Colmar Brunton polls calling for Little to go/Labour might win in 2020/Key will stay PM until he gets bored etc. are noticeably absent in this post. It’s almost like the daily Tory talking points didn’t cover this possibility.

      Key’s had a great run, but every winning streak eventually ends. Fact!

      • Brutus Iscariot 19.2.1

        Oh i agree. No single number can ever be confirmed as “real” due to the nature of polling – you can’t sample the whole electorate. You don’t even necessarily know who the electorate are, in the sense of who is actually going to vote in an election. In that sense the 54-25 RM wasn’t “real” as it needed further confirmation – which subsequently hasn’t happened.

        But there is information in the polls, when taken as a recent average, and determining a trend.

        Looking at the polls as a whole, that information is that National is that steady or slightly higher than their election result, with a fair bit of churn/re-arrangement of votes among the left but no meaningful redistribution.

    • Tracey 19.3

      polls aren’t great. Maybe they are all right? In which case they are useless and that needs to be sung from the rooftops by some MSM journo and editor?

      Snakeoil delivered by our MSM.

      • Puckish Rogue 19.3.1

        Well I think people have an inherent need to know whats happening and polls fill that need

        Whether the polls are accurate or not or if the polls themselves affect the results are a different story

        • Tracey 19.3.1.1

          inherent need to know what? 750 to 1000 people think x, y or z = inherent need to know? How come this inherent need only arose in 1970?

          • Phil 19.3.1.1.1

            Next time you’re at the doctor’s getting a blood test, tell him/her to take all your blood. You know, just to be sure.

            Polling has been around pretty much forever – even Greek and Roman documents indicate rudimentary forms of polling helped their senators decide which way to go on certain issues.

            What we think of as ‘modern polling’ only came to the fore once telecommunications infrastructure and computing technology got to the point where mass polling became cost effective and efficient.

            In a separate post I linked to this…
            http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/polling-is-getting-harder-but-its-a-vital-check-on-power/

            … which provides a really good summary of the public interest case for polling.

  19. Sable 20

    Never fear National’s manure manufacturers the MSM will make their garden of weeds to grow in time for the next marketing campaign, oops I mean election.

  20. The real shocker in there: 42 fucking percent think harrassing service staff is “just horsing around?” Fuck being a waitress must be a prick of a job.

    • Colonial Rawshark 21.1

      Any low level service job, in fact. The number of demanding, onerous, self important unreasonable pricks out there does appear to be multiplying.

    • Tracey 21.2

      it shows how the strategy works for National. Plant the excuse, make the behaviour “normal” rinse and repeat, repeat, repeat…

    • b waghorn 21.3

      The problem is PM that most people Havn’t (as usual) payed enough attention to the story to realize how often scum key did it and they’ve all swallowed his bullshit line about him apologizing and her being fine with it,
      I even had a bloke tell me how it was the herald that broke the story ffs.
      can I ad my step daughter worked as a waitress right through her tertiary Ed and she reckons that’s why she has a very dim view of people in general.

  21. Phil 22

    Here is Nate Silver making a compelling argument for why polling is important, especially close to an election.

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/polling-is-getting-harder-but-its-a-vital-check-on-power/

    In short:

    Public opinion polling is a powerful counterbalance to isolated or ‘insider’ anecdote and estimates of what the public really think.

    Polling close to an election is the best way to run a natural test of your polling methodology so that later, when you’re polling something that doesn’t have a general election to compare its results to, you can be confident you’re in the right ballpark.

    • Clemgeopin 22.1

      Thanks for that very interesting article.

      Some parts of the article:
      “But lately, there have been a series of relatively poor outcomes. Polls of the U.S. midterms last year badly underestimated the Republican vote. And there have been mishaps in other Western democracies. Last month, polls of the U.K. election — most of them conducted online — projected a photo-finish for Parliament instead of a Conservative majority.4 The polls also had fairly poor results in last year’s Scottish independence referendum and this year’s Israeli general election.

      So if the polls fared poorly, does that mean you should have listened to the pundits after all? Not really: In these elections, the speculation among media insiders was usually no better than the polls and was often worse. Almost no one, save perhaps Mick Jagger, assigned much of a chance to the Conservatives’ big win in the U.K. last month, with some betting shops offering odds of 25-to-1 against a Conservative majority. In the last two U.S. elections, meanwhile, the polling error ran in the opposite direction of what the conventional wisdom anticipated. In 2012, there was a lot of media discourse about how polls might be “skewed” against Republicans. As it happened, the polls were skewed that year but toward Republicans, with Democrats beating the predicted outcome in almost every state. Then in 2014, exactly the opposite occurred. The media discourse was mostly about whether the polls would underestimate Democrats again, but instead they were biased toward Democrats.5

      This may not be a coincidence. The views of pollsters, polling aggregators and pundits may feed back upon one another, even or perhaps especially when they’re incorrect. (When to expect a surprise? When no one expects one.) In fact, there’s increasing evidence of a pollster phenomenon known as “herding.” Toward the end of a campaign, pollsters’ results often fall artificially in line with one another as the conventional wisdom forms about the race. In some cases, pollsters have admitted to suppressing polls they deem to be outliers but that would have turned out to be just right. The U.K. pollster Survation, for instance, declined to release a poll showing Conservatives ahead of Labour by 6 points — about the actual margin of victory — because the results seemed “so ‘out of line’ with all the polling,” the company later disclosed. And in the U.S. last year, at least two polling firms declined to publish surveys showing a tight Senate race in Virginia, which in the end was decided by only 18,000 votes in what was almost a historic upset.

      There was a lot of discussion about herding at AAPOR. It’s something that probably always has gone on, to some extent. On the eve of an election, if pollsters have one turnout model that shows a result right in line with the FiveThirtyEight or Real Clear Politics average and another showing a “surprising” result, they may not be eager to risk their reputation by publishing the “outlier.”6 But there’s more potential for herding as the fundamentals of polling deteriorate and as polling becomes more technique- and assumption-driven”

Recent Comments

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