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The only poll that matters is on election day

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 pm, December 5th, 2012 - 103 comments
Categories: making shit up, polls - Tags:

So, recent polls have shown a minor upward blip for Labour.  A minor downward blip for National.  Ergo, David Shearer must immediately appear on TV to extrapolate why and make big sexy claims about how The Gap Is Narrowing and We Will Clearly Return To The Treasury Benches In 2015 2014.

Any time in the next month or so, another poll will appear showing a minor blip upward for National, and a minor blip downward for Labour, and then it’ll be John Key’s turn to brag about how The Public Clearly Supports Our Direction and Labour Has No Vision For Noo Zilnd.

And so it will continue.  Even the people who openly state that they know better – e.g. some of my fellow bloggers and commenters on The Standard – will still try to make something of the trend, or the historical poll biases in play, or calculate which political headline hit at the plum point of the polling period and thus explains the result.

The only poll that matters is election day.  And any politician – but especially one whose party is still sucking bigtime compared to the glory days of not that long ago – needs to say only one thing when a “favourable” poll result comes through:  the only poll that matters is election day.  If you must, throw in a key message about The Voters Will Decide or something.

Because as soon as you buy into the idea that that one favourable poll means something, you’ve bought into the idea that the next unfavourable poll means something.  As soon as you say look an upward trend you’ve handed your opponent the right to retort nope, it’s a downward trend as soon as they can scrape two data points together.

Sure, keep doing your internal polling, if you really want to run a political party on the basis of amoral populism instead of having principles and putting your case to the people of New Zealand and trusting in that democracy thing we have to accept or reject your arguments. If you must.

But please, pollies.  (Especially David Shearer.)  Stop dignifying bullshit landline polls like they mean anything, especially this far out from an election.  Or, if you must, stop complaining later on that the media are only interested in shallow numbers stories instead of Big Serious Policy.  You’re feeding the monster, you clean up its shit.

Consider the variables.  Weather.  Season.  Ministerial resignations.  Expense scandals.  Winston Peters, John Tamihere, Colin Craig, John Ansell.  Epsom, Ohariu, the Maaori seats.  David Cunliffe, Judith Collins.  No Rugby World Cup.  Shifting voter demographics.  Turnout.

Consider that election day is actually a bit of a big deal and many people may be wavering between two or three options as they enter the voting both.  Greens, Labour, Mana?  Dunne or Shanks?  Make a statement with a Green candidate vote or compromise your real principles to boot out Paula Bennett?

Polls in 2012 mean fuck all for Election Day 2014.  Tell the journos that the only poll that matters is on election day – show some respect for all the voters who don’t get called – and get on with your bloody job.


History

103 comments on “The only poll that matters is on election day”

  1. karol 1

    QOT: Sure, keep doing your internal polling, if you really want to run a political party on the basis of amoral populism instead of having principles and putting your case to the people of New Zealand and trusting in that democracy thing we have to accept or reject your arguments. If you must.

    Exactly.  Continued public reports on polling influences the electoral outcome – especially when used by news media to promote their own product (see TV3 & TV One news).  These companies then put their own spin on the polls… and on it goes.   It’s a “neoliberal” strategy all this polling, taken from the market research model.  It’s not appropriate for  encouraging open democratic debate about the issues and policies that matter to ordianry people.

    • The Fan Club 1.1

      Look, I know I should leave the continued use of neoliberal as a swearword well enough alone, but timely, accurate polling data is not neoliberal. (Quite how market research is neo-liberal I don’t get either, given that the whole complex predates neo-liberalism by decades and is more tightly tied to sociology/Mass Observation/Operations Research than anything else. That is to say, fundamentally technocratic/social democratic research programmes.)

      Polling is about the only time that journalism confronts actual measurable public opinion in a way that, fundamentally, can’t be spun. It is the introduction of evidence. It is not a neo-liberal plot.

      • Populuxe1 1.1.1

        Shame on you for being all rational. Chalk it up to creeping paranoia.

        • karol 1.1.1.1

          Rational?  TFC shows little knowledge of the different histories of market research, and sociological-based research, nor of the shift that happened int he 80s – let alone of the historical difference between approaches of the Labour movement/left-wing approaches and that of the new right.

          • The Fan Club 1.1.1.1.1

            I think you will find that I do in fact know a fair bit about this stuff, and I am saying that `neoliberal’ is not just a swear word. Everyone talks smack about polls in every political context, neo-liberal or not, because polls tell us about the world.

            (Karol, by the way, protip: in NZ, don’t talk about the differences between the Labour movement and the new right, ’cause it kinda turns out that oops!, neo-liberalism in NZ wasn’t new right: it was a neo-liberal left.)

            • Pascal's bookie 1.1.1.1.1.1

              pro tip. Labour movement /= Labour Party

            • karol 1.1.1.1.1.2

              I do in fact know a fair bit about this stuff

              Then you will know all the limitations of what market research polls can tell us about the “real world” and the ways the results can be skewed. Your faith in the absolute truth of all poll results is touching.
               

              • Colonial Viper

                It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.

                From a famous American writer…

              • lurgee

                I thought your earlier “TFC shows little knowledge” post was a joke. Were you being serious? Oh dear.

                • karol

                  Not much of an argument there, lurgee.  Merely adopting a patronising attitude, without any argument or evidence, adds nothing to the discussion.

          • Populuxe1 1.1.1.1.2

            Um, karol, the fourth Labour government? Roger Douglas? Jus’ sayin’
            And public polling, as is all surveying, is indeed largely a development from the left of the political spectrum. The smugly overconfident right only started caring about such things quite some time after the left started to give them a run for their money.

            • felix 1.1.1.1.2.1

              “Um, karol, the fourth Labour government? Roger Douglas? “

              Yes Pop, they’re the “new right” karol contrasts with the “labour movement”.

              Well done, you’re getting the hang of this reading lark.

              • Populuxe1

                All ideologies are equally toxic substitutions for critical thinking and both sides are virtually identical in the centre and at the extremes. Funny how that “new right” emerged from the bosom of the established party of the left. If you think for one moment either pole aren’t ad hoc and cherrypicking from each other, you’re deluded. That doesn’t make them any less valid, just pragmatic. New Zealand’s “new right” are lightyears to the left of the US Democrat party.

      • karol 1.1.2

        With the “neoliberal” shift, came a fetish with organising all things, including public services and politics, as if they are all businesses. So focus-grouping by political parties and news media fetish with polling all became very dominant.

        Of course such market-research type polling was around before the 80s, but it was never used so much.

        News outlets, especially TV news, do their own polling so that they can claim an exclusive – it’s a news creating thing to up their “ratings”/market share.  And all the focus on polls, works well for the neolibs because it takes the focus from the things that really expose their bankruptcy – a more in-depth discussion of the policies and issues. 

        And of course “neoliberal” doesn’t live up to its big sell – it’s not about free markets etc: it’s about skewing the playing field in favour of the rich and powerful and all their cronies.  But it’s a useful short-hand term for all the shifts that happened with the efforts of Thatcher, Regan Rogernome, etc.  And it’s a useful term to highlight all the things that need to be changed.

        • Puddleglum 1.1.2.1

          I think that sums it up.

          Capitalism sheds its ideology of the month like  a snake sheds its skin. Neo-liberalism is simply the current skin.

          Neo-liberalism pushes the ideological view that all ‘collective’ decisions should be made on the aggregated preferences/choices/behaviours of individuals. Further, true believers seem convinced that such aggregation is all there really is – when of course it isn’t.

          That supposedly left politicians buy into market research methods that assume this kind of isolated individual full to the brim with particular preferences is a bit sad.

          It’s as if they’ve given up on creating a social movement.

          • Populuxe1 1.1.2.1.1

            As we are not the Borg, it’s difficult to see how the preferences of individuals can be ignored without becoming a dictatorship. For me socialism is about creating a society that supports and nurtures individuals and their contributions to the greater good of the whole. A society that didn’t encourage individual worth would be boring and probably totalitarian.

  2. toad 2

    I almost thought you had got thru a whole fucking post without saying fuck, QoT 🙂 Until the last para.

    Agree on the substantive.

  3. Bill 3

    Well fucking said.

    Except for one wee thing I want to throw in there before anyone does any conflating of polls and opinions and then attempts to justify a party policy of stonewalling and deafness…I agree that a bit of movement this way or a bit of movement that way = 5/8ths of fuck all in terms of meaning anything, but…

    …when the supposed backbone of the left parliamentary bloc is mired in low 30’s shit and is being told time after time by a significant proportion of even its own members through…can I use the term unsolicited polling? – (blogs, facebook stuff, comments, posts etc) …that it’s actually reminiscent of a kind of nasty spineless blob cast up on the sand and that it will never inspire confidence or enthusiasm due to, well… what it has become and intends to be. And when many of those who can be arsed to be vocal – and who are also (often long term) members explicitly state that they will not vote for the party they belong to…then it doesn’t matter that an election is two years away, ten days away or an eon away.

    And it also doesn’t matter if they win. Oh, I suppose I should qualify. Except for they themselves, it doesn’t matter if they win.

  4. hush minx 4

    Great post. Wish the people who don’t read blogs would read it and learn something about how real people think (rather than the focus group).

  5. Lefty 5

    Does the poll on election day matter?

    The evidence is that a change of government in developed countries nowadays makes about as much difference as a change of shift at McDonalds.

    The same old shit get shovelled by a fresh crew.

  6. xtasy 6

    Good post and very timely, I’d say!

    What we have is a rotten, shit msm media, running trivial distraction stories day in and day out.

    Issues are not even talked about anymore, at least not in detail and substance. It appears most leading msm journalists are pre-occupied with writing crap the editor may like or approve, just to ensure their survival and salary continuation.

    We have politicians running in “panic mode”, as soon as some of their abilities are challenged, going around assassinating suspected “challengers” or “attackers”. They also shit themselves because of the msm media focusing on nonsense and petty stories, so they do instead of standing up and delivering substance in policies, rather panic again, and deliver nonsensical, poorly researched and prepared idiot policies, engage in personality and power games.

    Shearer has done so, now Peters has done so.

    NZ politics is in total turmoil. The government itself is rather headless, but because of the divisions and mindless over-reactions within opposition party caucuses and leaderships, they get off the hook yet again, laughing their way through corrupt, lying and useless, failing political maneuvering that his going on.

    We have before a MAJOR Select Committee hearings taking place right now, about the most ruthless, brutal and unjust ASSAULT on beneficiaries, where it is for many affected totally incomprehensible that they are NOT LISTENED to when presenting their highly concerned, anxious submissions, and the opposition is engaged in SELF MUTILATION, scheming between leadership camps and the likes.

    SHEARER and PETERS, you should sink in the bloody rotten and muddy grounds in TOTAL SHAME, to leave people in desperate need alone, to let this government roll them and deal to them like an ABUSER to an INNOCENT child or other vulnerable person.

    The crap MSM media is too busy reporting on the weather, a pregnancy of a spoilt rotten ROYAL babe, personality clashes in politics, supposed developments that are alleged and not even proved, and Jacinda Ardern is asking for a huge OWN GOAL by raising issues about WINZ paying back to work grants to unemployed, so desperate, they rather go to Australia.

    Like challenged on National Radio’s Checkpoint by one of NZ’s best journalists, she had to concede that it was a Labour government allowing the same already in 2007.

    I raise AGAIN, that it was also a RIGHT OF CENTRE Labour led government, that did introduce roles and a system run by the Principal Health Advisor Dr David Bratt in 2007 to 2008 AND the TRAINING of WINZ’s DESIGNATED DOCTORS to make the decisions WINZ and MSD expect, when it comes to sickness and invalid’s benefits.

    No wonder you, JACINDA, were so weak during a recent Select Committee Hearing in Auckland, and had nothing much to say or ask about that!

    YOU are PART of the bloody PROBLEM.

    This X-mas and holiday period, I challenge ALL Labour members and supporters, yes ALL left minded people in NZ, to take a new stand, make a new start, and to work on setting up a totally NEW LEFT PARTY, that will create a basis for the whole opposition of substance, and that will create a REAL challenge to this rotten government, that cares nothing about ordinary and especially not weak and poor NZers.

    It is time to make and end to this endless saga of hopelessness, betrayal, in-fighting and other SHIT that is going on in too many parts of the Labour caucus and some other political organisations.

    Wake up, take a bloody stand, create a NEW forum for a FUTURE for this country, and DO AWAY with the rotten bastards that are too bloody comfy on the feathered and leather coated seats in Parliament!

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      This X-mas and holiday period, I challenge ALL Labour members and supporters, yes ALL left minded people in NZ, to take a new stand, make a new start, and to work on setting up a totally NEW LEFT PARTY, that will create a basis for the whole opposition of substance, and that will create a REAL challenge to this rotten government, that cares nothing about ordinary and especially not weak and poor NZers.

      A couple of them already exist – they just need support from left leaning people:
      Alliance
      Mana

      Go to the sites, choose which one most closely relates to what you believe and join.

      • AmaKiwi 6.1.1

        I am afraid I don’t agree.

        Major parties like having extreme parties. The extremists help make them look more centrist and thus attract more votes. Example: I accuse my National MP of being a right wing fascist. She/He replies, “You think I am right wing, look at what Act and the Conservatives are proposing. I am middle of the road.”

        On the left, you might accuse Mana of being extreme, but not today’s Greens. Many Green policies are looking decidedly responsible and reasonable. Put another way, what is responsible about the two centrists parties sleep walking to environmental Armageddon?

        • mickysavage 6.1.1.1

          Agreed.

          The Labour Green relationship compared to the National Act relationship shows a major divide … 

          • The Al1en 6.1.1.1.1

            It certainly does, and raises the question of who’ll have the biggest balls come negotiating time, post a left win.
            If Labour don’t move far enough to left to satisfy, they risk the Green’s (with nothing to lose), taking a huge chunk of disgruntled red underbelly in 2017. Will be far too late by then, but a consistently poor Labour party doesn’t really deserve to be the biggest party in opposition when they’re clearly not very good at it.
            My monies on Metiria. 😉

        • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1.2

          “You think I am right wing, look at what Act and the Conservatives are proposing. I am middle of the road.”

          At which point you point out that there’s no difference between National and Act because there isn’t.

          Besides, neither Mana nor Alliance are extreme. Reality isn’t extreme no matter what the right wing parties say.

          • Indeed. An extreme left-wing party would do the things that right-wingers pretend to think real left-wing parties do, like support forcing people to become vegan or sterilise themselves, completely equal distribution of wealth, etc…

            Nobody is even entertaining those ideas.

      • xtasy 6.1.2

        ALLIANCE – died due to divisions, subsided and has a small following, not creating traction. It is a “name” associated with failure, hence they are maybe having some good ideas and intentions, but are otherwise DEAD!

        MANA – perceived as being the “Hone Harawira Party”, whether rightly or wrongly, that is the perception amongst most now. Harawira also portrays himself too much on his website, which is predominantly Maori focused, thus it implies to the wider electorate as not being enough “inclusive” and thus (also given Harawira’s past “activism”) a “fringe party”. I am afraid it will remain that, just for that sake.

        Look at other countries, new parties were started in many places, also in NZ, and it depends on the ideas, the plans, the program, agenda AND personalities for them to succeed.

        Hence if the right people with the right ideas get together, it will be a total win, win situation.

        But that exactly is the challenge.

        Too many in Labour are too “comfy” being in opposition and the MPs do not mind so either, as they get their salaries and perks.

        And re ‘AmaKiwi’, yes, extremists are “used” like that, but that is poor showing. If supposed “extremists” have a good program, they will soon no longer be perceived as “extremist”. Do not fall for the apologetic manipulations of the big two, thanks!

        • Skinny 6.1.2.1

          Mr X it’s a New Years resolution all us lefties left should prescribe too. 6 months planning and then a party launch. Supply & demand is the trick! 

          Your right about Mana & Hone doesn’t do it for me, he is only ever going to be a one trick pony.

          • karol 6.1.2.1.1

            I disagree with your assessment of Mana.  Hone is given attention on the website because he is the only MP for the party right now.  But if you look at their press releases, several are posted by John Minto – hardly indicating a dominant Maori focus.

            • marty mars 6.1.2.1.1.1

              Mana isn’t a one man band, it’s the opposite. I tend to see those who don’t like or believe in tino rangatiratanga as being oppressors. If there is no equality there is no correct foundation for this country and it won’t or doesn’t matter what is built on top, it will be and is currently, crooked. In other words trying to deal with poverty, suffering and inequality cannot occur without equality for tangata whenua – it is the minimum starting position IMO.

              • Populuxe1

                Look, either guardianship of the land is invested in the state (socialism) or iwi (tino rangatiratanga). Mana seem to want it both ways, and that is why I find it difficult to take them seriously – they are not philosophically cut from a whole cloth. Even ACT could at least claim to have sound, clear philosophical basis, even if it is an ugly one.

    • xtasy 6.2

      NONE of you address the social law and issues problems!

      So you are participating in the same, speculations on various political alignments and such.

      That solves NADA! It had not done so for years, so why not face the truth of the left not being “left” anymore (that is in Parliament)!?

  7. Ad 7

    Is your premise correct?

    The MSM forms a view, writes history with the media crew of the party they’re currently drinking with.

    Grower et al form the story like advertisers shape raw products.

    This in turn drives public sentiment, which in turn shapes the polls.

    Like The Hollow Men, for the other side.

    Form the wave, then surf it. Good politics.

    • QoT 7.1

      If we assume my premise, per the title, is that the only poll that really matters is on election day … yes, I tend to think it’s pretty correct.

      • Ad 7.1.1

        Polls drive story cycles.
        Story cycles are bricks in a narrative wall.
        Narratives drive polls.
        At the moment, of all the media only the MSM forms stories. Others just amplify, reify.

        Shearer’s team and MSM manipulate each other; thats the grand game.

        Of course it’s no longer as tight a political biosphere as that now, but it still holds.

        Shearer is playing the game that must be won, and is currently winning.

        Every poll drives each successive poll.

        So they all really matter.

        • the pigman 7.1.1.1

          Exactly. In all her righteous fucking indignation which is fucking sincerely meant, QoT seems to have bound up two issues which people confused:

          a) Yes, it would be wrong for the Opposition to make a song and dance about how the polls are turning, they will end up on top, while they play their policies to focus groups. This sort of behaviour is anathema to our loathing for hubris, and is closely related to whatever wounded beast lies at the heart of the summer-BBQ-political-discussion;

          b) Bugger the notion that the polls are irrelevant/have no impact on the contemporary political discussion, etc. The MSM narrative that accompanies our political commentary/discussion (which is indeed an industry/hobby) creates endless stories around these polls (we do a lot to help them, if not willingly). The Phil In meme that Goff didn’t really want to become prime minister, was without charisma, etc. was provably false by the time the election campaign was in full swing, but the media kept running with it because it didn’t have a credible alternative story. And then we had the 2011 election.

          So, you keep interested in politics, you’re going to keep getting polls. I bet there’d be some equally righteous squealing if the poll tap was turned off until election year, too.

          • QoT 7.1.1.1.1

            You’re totally right. I’m just too stupid to understand that polls drive a media narrative. Maybe I should write a post about my annoyance at polls driving media narratives. Hang on …

            Also? First and only warning about using bullshit gendered terms like “squealing”. And don’t try to flatter my “sincerity”.

            • the pigman 7.1.1.1.1.1

              Rofl, I didn’t mean squealing by you (given that your entire position seems to be based on not wanting polls, I was talking about the whingers at the other end of the (ungendered) spectrum), or by women – take a look at the username.

              You want gendered terms? Too bad, love, that I’m not going to feed your desire for faux-feminist-outrage.

              You are so desperate to read in loathing from your commenters – what you want to believe is that yes, the big subtext was that you’re stupid because you’re a woman. Now re-read my post and re-trace the little leaps in logic you made to get there.

          • karol 7.1.1.1.2

            So, as far as I can make out, the porker & ad-men are all in favour of the collusion between Shearer & the MSM because it’s a way for the left to win the next election?

            Doesn’t matter that in doing it they sell their soul to the MSM, and inadvertently take on board the dominant MSM values – ones targeting the comfortable middle-classes.?

            And it doesn’t matter that team Shearer are putting their futures in the control of the MSM – news-makers who will turn on any party that shifts too far from their values: e.g. that actually tries to become a left wing party? 

            • Olwyn 7.1.1.1.2.1

              Perhaps someone can correct me on this, but there does not seem to be any mechanism, beyond voting, for holding the Labour executive to Labour principles. National do not seem to have this problem: one cannot imagine a National Party member saying that the best way to help farming would be to nationalise the farms. In comparison, values seem increasingly up for grabs in Labour – “whatever works” seems to be the order of the day. This matters, Labour looks to be getting turned into a vehicle for progressing political and media careers, rather than a responsible component of a representative democracy.

            • the pigman 7.1.1.1.2.2

              Edit: after seeing the amazing ball-and-gag job pulled on TFC below (who I have no time for), I have removed this post and won’t be continuing this discussion.

              • karol

                I understood what you said.  And why should we put up with something that undermines the left.  The result will be a Labour Party the MSM wants: i.e. at the moment, not very left-wing at all.

                We can choose not to jump on the bandwagon that accepts the MSM fictionalisation of politics.  

                The MSM use the polls to construct a narrative.  It distracts from the policies and issues that matter, and makes it all seem like a horse-race.  I’ve posted before I how I think this leads to a lot of voters becoming cynical about politicians and disengaged from politics. 

              • lprent

                Just read the policy. It is pretty simple

                • If you want to divert off a post’s topic then start a thread in OpenMike.
                • Never abuse authors personally in their posts – speak to their post, not to them.
                • Remember that we maintain this site for the authors. Visibly respect both them and moderators (even when you don’t).
                • Don’t try forum disruption/diversion/troll tactics that were old when I was young on the net. The moderators have seen them all before and are inclined to summary displays of our contempt for them.
                • If you’re going to abuse someone, then always make sure that you make a actual point related to either what they said or to the topic.
                • Don’t waste the time of moderators or they’re likely to remove the time wasting problem. Since they are deliberately kind of random in what kind of education they hand out, then you are the person taking the risk when you attract their attention. (ie, don’t try to lawyer the system).

                And above all remember that there is an sysop/ogre at the back of the site who has been around online forums for too long and is kind of irritable at seeing people making the same stupid mistakes as he saw 20 years ago.

                TFC isn’t “gagged”. There are a whole lot of other blog sites he can go to even if he doesn’t want to start up yet another “I hate lprent” site. He is just receiving a lesson about manners on this site. Many people have received them and I’d prefer not having to give them. That is why I wrote the policy outlining the types of things that we don’t allow. I just wish people would search for and read rules of sites before they waste my time.

                • the pigman

                  “•Never abuse authors personally in their posts – speak to their post, not to them.”

                  Yet it’s fine for the authors to abuse people commenting on their articles. Because it seems from this thread that this is par for course for at least one author.

                  It is an atrocious double standard you’re applying. These things are in your policy, but clearly you can exercise discretion about the application of that policy, because you let enormous amounts go from King Kong, Gooseman and other standard malefactors.

                  You make out that these things are black and white, and that every commenter should have an awareness of what crosses the line/will result in a ban, yet your treatment of TFC below just makes it look arbitrary.

  8. The Fan Club 8

    You and Mitt, you and Mitt.

    • QoT 8.1

      Make an actual argument that I can laugh at or fuck off.

      • The Fan Club 8.1.1

        The argument is that polls impart useful information about the state of the world. Statistics works. So polls other than the one conducted by the Electoral Commission do in fact matter.

        Mitt seemed to think statistics didn’t work, and had a similar list of reasons.

        (There’s a more sophisticated messaging argument about the asymmetry of government/opposition, where it helps the opposition more to be ahead than it hurts to be behind, but that’s a bit complicated I suspect.)

        • QoT 8.1.1.1

          Consider the variables. Weather. Season. Ministerial resignations. Expense scandals. Winston Peters, John Tamihere, Colin Craig, John Ansell. Epsom, Ohariu, the Maaori seats. David Cunliffe, Judith Collins. No Rugby World Cup. Shifting voter demographics. Turnout.

          Consider that election day is actually a bit of a big deal and many people may be wavering between two or three options as they enter the voting both. Greens, Labour, Mana? Dunne or Shanks? Make a statement with a Green candidate vote or compromise your real principles to boot out Paula Bennett?

          Polls in 2012 mean fuck all for Election Day 2014.

          • The Fan Club 8.1.1.1.1

            Polls in 2012 mean fuck all for Election Day 2014.

            Partly, this just isn’t true. Partly, who cares, they tell us heaps about voters right now.

            Of course, the only politician who says the only poll that counts is E Day is, you guessed, one that’s behind.

            (Shorter me: statistics works.)

            • QoT 8.1.1.1.1.1

              they tell us heaps about voters right now.

              Could you tell the media? Because it seems like they want to keep acting like a poll in 2012 tells us “if an election were held today” despite clear historical evidence that mid-term polls don’t reflect election-day voting.

              Maybe I should write a post about that. OH WAIT.

              • The Fan Club

                Jesus you are a loud mouthed fool. You’ve now gone from `polls don’t matter’ to `the predictive content of a poll taken two years out from an election is limited* although it does contain valuable information about the electorate’.

                Also you’ve completely given up on the messaging argument, possibly because it really is unsustainable.

                * although again the predictive value is greater than you seem to think, there’s a tendency for the party ahead two years out to win, and more so when the gap is larger.

                • QoT

                  Fuck, you’re a self-important douchecanoe. The whole idea of “the only poll that matters is election day” IS a messaging issue. It plays on a common phrase used in political discussion.

                  And I’m not actually going to point-by-point address every bullshit derailing point you make because I don’t fucking have to and you, as someone who is pretty established in my books as “not interested in genuine discussion”, are not worth the trouble.

                  • The Fan Club

                    Yes, detailed discussion of historical trends in polling is derailing!

                    Yes, introduction of evidential foundations is derailing!

                    Yes, analysis of how political messaging actually works in the real world, derailing!

                    Yes, actually knowing what you are talking about, derailing!

                    (I actually am quite interested in genuine discussion about the use and misuse of polling data. Data-driven campaigning is cool, and it turns out effective understanding of what polls mean is really important to winning elections. I am not, on the other hand, interested in listening to stale, second-hand opinions zhushed up by a veneer of zany vocabulary, which is kinda where you start and stop.)

                    • QoT

                      TFC, you frequently insist that discussions on The Standard be about the topics you want them to be on.

                      Since we’re so disappointing, maybe this will help you find discussions more to your liking.

                    • lprent []

                      Useful link. I think you just caused me to make the first change to the about in some time.

                    • The Fan Club

                      I’ve made my two claims: polling data is a rich source of information about the electorate, useful both for making decisions about how to act now, and for predicting the electorate’s future behaviour. Also, if you’re the opposition and a poll puts you ahead, because voters are more likely to vote for you if you are credible and likely government, you should make lots of noise about it.

                      They are responsive but contradict in certain respects your claims. They would appear to me to be fruitful topics to discuss under a post titled: the only poll that matters is on election day.

                      But for some reason, you don’t seem to want to talk about the things you post about! You want to — and here I actually don’t know, want to talk about what, if not the uses and abuses of polling data?

                      [lprent: Just to reinforce QoT’s point, I even put a section in the about when we wrote it back in 2007. We have long since tired of people telling us how we should run our site.

                      These days I usually warn once like this, give a light ban or even two if I’m generous, and then permanently ban. Ask Pete George who was the last person to received the treatment and who still whines about it frequently in his anti-The Standard site. After 5 years of critics, it is quite tedious going through all of the same old arguments again which ultimately come down to that we do the work to make the site successful and you are a guest.

                      If you want to raise things that the author considers are well off their topic or simple diversions then do so in OpenMike and try to get interest there. Or send us a guest post which depending on how well it is argued and written and how full the schedule is, we will frequently publish in a seperate post. Otherwise create your own blog. ]

                    • The Fan Club

                      Look, LPrent, how is directly contradicting the central claims of an author off-topic? It might be rude, or it might be ineffective at any kind of actual persuasion, but I find it hard to see how it is off-topic.

                      I don’t care how you run your site, but surely direct contradiction is the most basic form of on-topicness possible.

                      [lprent: Ok I looked back through the comments to see what QoT was looking at and what you were claiming was “..directly contradicting the central claims..”. I guess you mean the first comment?

                      You and Mitt, you and Mitt.

                      Somehow who ‘Mitt’ is/was never seemed to ever get explained, nor its relevance to the post. When challenged on it you gave an argument on the statistical validity of polls that essentially says to me (and QoT) that you hadn’t actually read the post. If you’d read it you’d know it was about the way media and politicians treat individual polls, not about the validity of the actual polls themselves. She made no claims about the statistical validity of polls at the point of time they were taken in her post. And that is all the actual statistical validity that any statistician would claim. Then you raised a pile of issues that you claimed you were raising that you hadn’t even mentioned previously after being pulled up on “derailing”

                      Contrary to your claims that you were merely contradicting QoT on her post it is quite clear to me and anyone actually reading your comments that you hadn’t actually read it. There is absolutely no trace of and understanding on your part of the argument she put forward. I’m surprised by her forbearance myself.

                      I’m not so forgiving of such stupidity. You’re banned for seven weeks (24th of Jan).

                      1. one for wasting moderator time,
                      2. one for not reading the post you were commenting on,
                      3. four for attacking an author directly and personally (and which I’d missed),
                      4. one week for making me read the crap that you allege is “..directly contradicting the central claims..” when it is pretty clear it was diversion trolling.

                      But do feel free to call on me at any time for an appeal even to a warning. But FFS read your own comments first when you want to provide the basis for a appeal next time. It is almost embarrassing to see your ignorance of the policy, especially the self-martyrdom offences. ]

                    • QoT

                      Thanks, lprent, you beat me to it: anyone whose first contribution to a conversation is “You and Mitt, you and Mitt” doesn’t get to have a cry later when people are unconvinced about their claims to wanting real engaged conversation.

    • Lanthanide 8.2

      Sorry Fan Club, but you’ve made a bit of a leap, there.

      Yes, Nate Silver got his predictions very close to what transpired in reality.

      The thing is, Nate Silver was working with a very large sample set. He had literally dozens of different polling sources to work with, with many overlapping sample periods. This was a very rich trove of data to mine from. He pointed out that there were some polling places that were outliers, but acknowledge that this would be expected from statistics anyway. Nate’s analysis also was largely concentrated into election year, particularly the last 3 months. We simply aren’t in the same time frame.

      By comparison, NZ has these occasionally-run TV polls, sporadic newspaper polls and Roy Morgan to work from. That’s it.

      QoT is entirely justified to point out just how shit the polling data really is, and the spin that it attached to it, because it really truly is shit.

      I had a whinge about this in the comments the other day:
      http://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-03122012/comment-page-1/#comment-557800

      • The Fan Club 8.2.1

        Two observations: one, yes, distance from election weakens predictive power. But it doesn’t weaken ability to tell us about the electorate Right Now.

        Secondly, it is true Silver had a lot more data, and that Silver was able to use that data to call the election to within ~.5% in swing states. But on the other hand, polling in NZ is much simpler because we have a much more homogeneous country and the NPV is basically all we care about, and we aren’t trying to reproduce that accuracy.

        It is also true that many individual states in the US have less polling done then we do.

        • Lanthanide 8.2.1.1

          “It is also true that many individual states in the US have less polling done then we do.”

          Because those are the states that have such well-known demographics and voting history that polling is not required.

          You’re also severally underestimating just how statistically important having many different polls is. It doesn’t matter whether “polling in NZ is simpler” because we have a “more homogenous country” (which I’d dispute anyway, I’d say were more diverse than many US states), that doesn’t change the fact that you can’t realistically take just a couple of polls and predict an electoral outcome on them, especially if you didn’t take account of any obvious variables in that prediction (like NZ First likely getting over 5% again, or the threshold being dropped to 4%).

  9. Aye QoT.  The polls mean something but not that much.

    Goff last time did OK.  Labour’s party vote went down to 27% because amongst other things lefties such as some Standard posters advocated voting for him just so the NZF vote would not be wasted.  

    I acknowledge the rationale for their decision.  I could not do it myself but if the Green Party was below the 5% mark I would seriously consider it.

    So Labour’s support last time was probably better than the election result.

    There is also the inherent bias.  I know many decent people who have never been polled because they do not have a landline.  Despite the overwhelming optimism the MSM had for a National victory last time it was a really close thing.

    So next time should be interesting.  But Labour needs to get its shit together …

  10. vto 10

    What about averaging the polls? And over various periods of time? That must mean something? After all if they didn’t mean something wouldn’t nobody pay for them to be done? The point misses some pretty big fucking points..

    • QoT 10.1

      Here’s DimPost’s latest aggregate-poll post. I think it raises some pretty interesting questions, areas for discussion, all that good shit.

      If you think that any of your questions are at all relevant to the bullshit poll “reporting” done by the media, then you’re the one missing some pretty big fucking points, mate. That is, all the ones made in this fucking post.

      ETA: After all if they didn’t mean something wouldn’t nobody pay for them to be done?

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. You’re funny.

    • Politics discussion is an industry in this country. The polls just fuel that.

  11. gobsmacked 11

    Political history is a more useful guide than the polls.

    In the world’s (roughly comparable) democracies, when voters have to choose between a bastard and a bumbler, they choose the bastard. Eight, nine times out of ten.

    If the Labour caucus insist on sticking with the uber-bumbler, then National will keep Key for as long as he’s useful, but if he fades badly in those polls … they’ll just bring on the next bastard. Plenty to choose from.

    • xtasy 11.1

      NZer’s had enough mumblers, bumblers and bastards in politics.

      If people were not so stereotypical and limited in views, any new contender could swiftly and solidly shake up the political environment.

      But as NZers are new to MMP that may need to be the next phase of learning that must be gone through. Bring in a totally new party, new faces, new ideas and they will all look like stuffy old skeletons in the rotten cupboard.

    • Lanthanide 11.2

      +10.

  12. weka 12

    The poll that I want to see is how many people let their voting be influenced by polls. Scarey.

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      Exactly. A lot of people vote on election day like it was the Melbourne Cup.

      They choose who they think is going to win.

      • weka 12.1.1

        On the other hand, polls in the few weeks before elections are useful for making strategic voting choices. But we might still be better off without those ones too. Imagine voting if there were not polls at all.

        • Colonial Viper 12.1.1.1

          In fact, I’d ban the publishing of all polls in a 7 day protected period leading up to elections. Force the focus on to the issues and the policies. Force Garner and the rest of them to do their job instead of acting like stock quote speculators.

      • Mary 12.1.2

        Or because they think it’s the other guy’s turn.

  13. McFlock 13

    I try – some days more successful than others – to think of polls on trend only. They’re not a bad indication, especially if they are regularly sampled and have a demonstrated bias against actual elections.
         
    It is incredibly easy to go “1.5% up – YAY!” and a month later “1.75% down! The sky is falling!”.
           
    Under Goff, bar the 5% decline in the last 6 months or so prior to the election, Labour in the RoyMorgan seemed to be 32-34% as I recall. Labour’s back to the lower limits of that. Any individual poll result to make me grin would bein the area of 37%, especially if it wasn’t a +5% spike followed by a -3% return.
         
    “The only poll that counts is the election”. Vey true, but the person with the better poll result says that with a smile that’s slightly less forced than those of their opponents.

  14. xtasy 14

    I am sorry MOST here still DO NOT GET IT! NZ is in total crisis and the LEFT has NO answers!

    • Colonial Viper 14.1

      The Left certainly has answers, its just that there is almost no Left representation in Parliament or in the media. (yeah yeah I know McFlock)

    • Mary 14.2

      How about starting with a broad objective that says we must work to repair the damage the National government did to the New Zealand psych throughout the 1990s?

    • Akldnut 14.3

      Most people here do get it, NZ is in crisis BECAUSE the right has NO answers.

  15. The sprout 16

    Well said QoT.

    While you can understand the desperate need for Shearer and his supporters to believe there are at last signs of improvement, the only consistent trend in Shearer’s performance has been an uncanny ability to shove his foot in his mouth every time it looks like he may finally making some progress. No matter what the polls may say, Shearer’s track record gives me every confidence he will yet again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    • QoT 16.1

      Thanks, sprout.

      It’s not just Shearer for me – though obviously this was the most recent example. It’s a continual nagging twitch I get in my brain every time a person on the political spectrum buys into the idea that one poll means anything.

  16. lurgee 17

    Of course, if Labour’s numbers do dip, by as much as an nano-percentile, the Usual Suspects will start howling about how this is a Polling Meltdown and how Shearer Must Go, forgetting their current dismissive attitude towards irrelevant, biased, sociologically incorrect opinion polling.

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History