The Dim-Post

October 3, 2011

Contra conventional wisdom

Filed under: polls — danylmc @ 6:23 am

This chart shows the movements in the TVNZ and TV3 polls released this weekend. Roy Morgan also released another poll, but I think they’re too erratic – the previous poll had a massive decline for Labour, this one shows a dramatic reversal, and their poll numbers have leapt around wildly all year.

The conventional wisdom amongst the pundits is that the voters are ‘switched off’ to politics. Us dullards in the general public can only concentrate on one thing at once, and right now that thing is the Rugby World Cup. But these polls follow the same general trend of the last few months: Labour are losing support to National and the Green party. People are paying attention.

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35 Comments »

  1. Hey look Cletus there’s a 3 legged Chicken sittting on an illegal Labour hording. Wonder if that Chicken is a Labour voter, ooops, looks like that’s a mark against.

    Comment by little_stevie — October 3, 2011 @ 6:46 am

  2. I believe the above post contains several excellent arguments for not downing neat vodka on a school day.

    Comment by Sanctuary — October 3, 2011 @ 7:49 am

  3. But if John Key gets injured that would throw the election wide open.

    Comment by Simon — October 3, 2011 @ 8:05 am

  4. Roy Morgan also released another poll, but I think they’re too erratic – the previous poll had a massive decline for Labour, this one shows a dramatic reversal, and their poll numbers have leapt around wildly all year.

    Average change in Labour’s standing between 2011 Reid polls: 3.1
    Average change in Labour’s standing between 2011 Morgan polls: 2.8

    Comment by bradluen — October 3, 2011 @ 8:17 am

  5. (that’s average absolute change obv.)

    Comment by bradluen — October 3, 2011 @ 8:18 am

  6. No need to panic, Mr Goff emphasised this morning that we just have to wait until after the world cup, people will then turn all their attention from rugby to the Labour Party’s strategies and policies (why do you think Dan Carter is too busy to train).

    In a brilliant first post-RWC move Goff will convince the country to vote for the best repeated and repeated election slogans and New Zealanders will finally come to their senses – and National support will rupture like a Carter groin.

    Comment by Pete George — October 3, 2011 @ 9:19 am

  7. just for a change, here’s an article saying Labour is ahead and National is coming third ;-)

    Comment by Kahikatea — October 3, 2011 @ 9:36 am

  8. People are paying attention to the inane psuedo-political horse-race bullshit, that gives substantive issues no proper analysis, or once-over-lightly “this is what I, the esteemed and informed Duncan Garner/John Armstrong etc, personally think” coverage.

    *fixed

    Comment by Pete — October 3, 2011 @ 10:32 am

  9. I think people might be paying less attention to the start of the election campaign but still following political events. If anyone is focusing on matters like Carter’s groin rather than credit downgrades it’s TVNZ and TV3.

    I think the overstatement of the meme “voters are ‘switched off’ to politics”, has more to do with blowhards like Espinor and Duncan Whatsit forcing themselves to come up with constant commentary on the game of politics rather than things like policies and performance.

    @Pete George – what’s the UntiedFuture spin on those current polls?

    Comment by Richard — October 3, 2011 @ 12:14 pm

  10. I’m not sure the wait will be until the end of the RWC. The All Blacks could get knocked out in the semis by the winner of Australia vs SA. If the ABs lose, I expect people will turn their attention pointedly towards politics, just to alleviate the sense of frustration and disappointment. If they win the tournament, however, I have a feeling the afterglow could last almost a week.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — October 3, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

  11. I have actually taken the decision to completely filter out all rugby stories for at least this week. The media has worked itself into an hysteria over the RWC to the point I can’t stand it – and I like rugby.

    Comment by Sanctuary — October 3, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

  12. I think these polls prove the opposite, ie that people aren’t paying attention. How else can the government have got more popular during a week when we had a credit downgrade, a dead soldier and the panning of their surveillance bill

    Comment by Adrian — October 3, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

  13. I expect people will turn their attention pointedly towards politics, just to alleviate the sense of frustration and disappointment.

    So basically a mandate re. asset sales will be determined by Carter’s groin.

    Comment by Gregor W — October 3, 2011 @ 12:50 pm

  14. I predicted this last election time, National and Greens forming a coalition.

    It’s interesting really. Last time they (National) were the opposition, so it was pretty well expected that a minor party such as the Greens would have increased votes, too. People were tired of voter, but a lot of the lefties didn’t want to vote National come hell or high water, so they gave their vote to the Greens.

    This time around it is a bit different. It point to Goff being perceived as a poor leader of Labour and gives us political observes an insight into this new phenomenon, what is a combination of National and Green becoming increasingly popular, let’s call it a blue-green political atmosphere.

    The Greens would be smart if they suited some of their policies to National, while retaining policies that are pretty important for them to become reality but these policies should be stomachable for National.

    This would be smart for National, too, to get along with the Greens more and meet them some of the way on this, because if they fall in the polls after the next election, then if they don’t start making allies with the other smaller parties now, they could lose 2014.

    Comment by Betty — October 3, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

  15. the increase in support for National is actually what would be expected to happen if people were being influenced by warm feelings of patriotism stemming from the Rugby World Cup but not actually following politics.

    I don’t know how you would explain the rise in support for the Greens without supposing that people were thinking about politics, but maybe there’s something I’ve overlooked. Even if not, it doesn’t prove that a particularly large number of people are not distracted by the rugby.

    Comment by Kahikatea — October 3, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

  16. @Richard – only speaking for myself, but there’s work to do. I don’t want to pull my groin, and Liz Hurley is taken apparently, so I’ll have to think of something else bizarre (and non-Labourish) to try and attract attention.

    From what I’ve seen most people don’t care about the election or politics at this stage, and why should they?

    May not know until the last week or two (or evening after) to see how things may swing, there’s some similartities to 2002 but many differences too. It can be a bit of a lottery, especially for the small parties, but even the big parties can swing 10% late.

    Comment by Pete George — October 3, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

  17. I think the swing to the Greens is because they are fronting up and putting forward ideas (which may or may not be good ideas), and I think the people in the Green Party may be perceived as fresher and newer. So my theory is that a lot of Labour votes are heading to the Greens. Hard to prove or disprove at this point. This could be interesting!

    Comment by David in Chch — October 3, 2011 @ 1:38 pm

  18. It’s worth noting that these polls only include landlines. That might not have been a huge issue six or even three years ago, but it is certainly worth considering now.

    There’s also the fact that they only ever include those who actually answer the phone (which favours homebodies), and of that minor subsection, they only sample those who agree to participate. Having worked the phones, let me tell you that this sample is anything but representative, and cannot be corrected for by oversampling or stratification. However, you’ll never get a pollster to admit these problems – who would tell the world and their cliends that their high-profile product is flawed, and becoming more so every day?

    The NZES is the only political survey worth reading. The price of rigour is immediacy, of course.

    Now, all of this might seen to be academic; “Labour is losing”. But were the Labour Party to have about 3-4% more in the polls, as their independently conducted research suggests, and National 3-4% less, then the narrative that spins through the airwaves might be less pronounced.

    Comment by George D — October 3, 2011 @ 4:57 pm

  19. George: the polls were within 2% on the two major parties last time. Are you expecting they won’t be this time?

    Comment by Rich — October 3, 2011 @ 5:18 pm

  20. Labour have dedicatedly pissed off many potential activists with their focus-group frightened policy stances – of which their 170degree turn on the Video Surveillance bill is but one. “Ordinary Voters” might not care about these things, but the kind of people who want to put up signs, knock on doors and become candidates do.

    I reckon most of the people who are still working for Labour are:
    – right-wingers who come from a tribally Labour background and find joining the Nats a step to far
    – social conservatives with left-of-centre economic views
    – people who want to be MPs and ministers and see policy as secondary, or changeable

    Hence you get a bunch of careerists in charge who are primarily worried about supporting X because they’ll give them a good spokesman job until the next election.

    My prediction is that by 2014 or 2017, the Greens will overtake Labour in party votes. Labour will be a party of the old rotten borough electorates, which will form an overhang. Phil Goff will probably still be leader, if only because nobody else wants the job.

    Comment by Rich — October 3, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

  21. the polls were within 2% on the two major parties last time. Are you expecting they won’t be this time?

    Within 5%? Sure. And insomuch as there is a large contingent of potential voters that may not turn out this year, and another not insubstantial contingent that is too lazy to even enrol, I don’t think the margin will be huge. However, the general point (that the media tell us Labour will be wiped out in a landslide) is I think based on self-fulfilling and simplistic exaggeration.


    My prediction is that by 2014 or 2017, the Greens will overtake Labour in party votes. Labour will be a party of the old rotten borough electorates, which will form an overhang. Phil Goff will probably still be leader, if only because nobody else wants the job.

    While I’d be delighted if this happened, I don’t think it will. The Greens simply haven’t got the electoral skill (yet) to target properly a sufficient proportion of the New Zealand population. They also don’t yet have the structure to run candidates hard, to win electorates.

    12-14% this election isn’t out of the realm of possibility, and greater is possible in future elections. By my estimation there are about 12 or so electorates where the right candidate with good party support could win a plurality. But it requires building, and planning that needs to start in December 2012. Thankfully, I see that happening. It’s also worth noting that the legitimacy and resources the party can draw on after this election will be larger, helping propel it forwards.

    Comment by George D — October 3, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

  22. Rich, your comment about Labour activists is almost entirely inaccurate, if the people I know are in any way representative. There’s also a fairly healthy feeling among their people in strongholds such as Mangere. If they can mobilise a get-out-the-vote campaign strongly enough among their supporters, they won’t get the hammering that’s predicted.

    Comment by George D — October 3, 2011 @ 5:53 pm

  23. These days it seems the easiest way to identify somebody as a right-wing hack is their breathless predictions of ‘the Greens overtaking Labour as the opposition.’ I wonder where this meme started? Matthew Hooten? Whaleoil? (Sorry George D etc – it’s much more of a ‘reality of the situation’ thing than any putting down of the Greens)

    Their similarly breathless predictions of why Labour activists must be abandoning the party in droves are also amusing, primarily because the overwhelming majority of people who spout it have probably never met a Labour Party member in their life. If Rogernomics, Mike Moore or the Foreshore & Seabed Act didn’t kill the Labour Party then I somehow don’t think that the video surveillance bill will.

    Perhaps take it back to Kiwiblog eh Rich?

    Comment by Hobbes — October 3, 2011 @ 6:11 pm

  24. The death of the Labour Party is about as likely as the death of the National Party in 2002 (i.e. inevitable according to commentators, and not at all, according to reality).

    The UK Labour Party was responsible for the invasion of Iraq, and selling its soul to George W. Bush. On a scale of political crimes, this ranks a tad worse than the caucus incompetence and eye-rolling failures of the current NZ opposition, adrift after three terms in power.

    Yet, the UK Labour Party is still there. The NZ Labour Party was ACT-ively insane in the 1980’s, and yet it is still there. The National Party has contorted itself to cheer for both Muldoon and Brash … and it is still there.

    There are red and blue parties across the democratic world (why do the Americans get this the wrong way round?), and they re-invent and endure. It doesn’t make much sense to look for historical trends in passing headlines.

    Comment by sammy — October 3, 2011 @ 6:18 pm

  25. The other disingenuous thing about how National Party shills seem to be talking up the Greens as some new opposition party is…uhhh…everybody knows that they hate you guys, right? While Whaleoil/Farrar/some dude on a blog says out of one side of their mouth about how great it is the Greens are doing well and being responsible & not militant or whatever, out the other side they yell and scream about how the Greens are luddites and communists and murderers and anti-american and blah blah blah the other things old white men like to say to make themselves feel important. They just happen to have started thinking it’s a nice meme to use you guys to bash the party they also really hate.

    Comment by Hobbes — October 3, 2011 @ 6:22 pm

  26. If Rogernomics, Mike Moore or the Foreshore & Seabed Act didn’t kill the Labour Party

    But they all harmed the party, in quite serious ways. In the last case, while it neutered the braying hounds (The Maoris [sic] will steal your beachside barbeque!) temporarily on one side, opened up a flank on which they had to do battle for the last 7 years, depriving them of activists and resources, and consuming them in fighting it. It also empowered, rather than weakened, their right-wing opponents, who developed hysterical scare campaigns framed around emotive issues (and thus difficult to engage) into an art.

    Where are they at now? I think they have a sufficient semblance of ideological coherence on the to go forward as a movement. This is particularly so on the things that define Labour as a historic entity, and it’s no coincidence that their election campaign is based around these. They’re what they can speak on with utter certainty. However they haven’t worked out strongly where their ethos is on a range of non-core issues, including rights-based arguments, and foreign policy. No party is fully unified on all issues, but they’re still negotiating a direction, and I suspect will do for the next few years, whether in Government or not. Certainly, their positions make a lot more sense from where I’m standing, than those of any other party except the Greens.

    Comment by George D — October 3, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

  27. Aren’t those shifts all within the margin of error? So everyone’s commenting on the statistical noise of single data points taken from a weighted random number generator?

    There’s an xkcd for that somewhere. http://xkcd.com/904/

    Comment by tussock — October 3, 2011 @ 7:03 pm

  28. Tussock – there is no “within the margin of error”. What everyone thinks the margin of error is, it isn’t.

    Comment by Rick Rowling — October 3, 2011 @ 7:54 pm

  29. The other disingenuous thing about how National Party shills seem to be talking up the Greens as some new opposition party is…uhhh…

    …uhhh…is because Russell Norman sounds and acts like someone comfortable with what he’s doing despite having some dotty policies, compared to Phil Goff who sounds and acts like someone right outside their natural zone who happens to have some better policies but seems to have been pushed into promiting some of Greens dotty policies too.

    Comment by Pete George — October 3, 2011 @ 9:21 pm

  30. obviously, there are two different reasons why someone might promote the Greens as the main opposition party – either they like the Greens, or they hate Labour. You can usually work out which someone is based on their other political views.

    Comment by Kahikatea — October 3, 2011 @ 9:42 pm

  31. Or they think National needs an opposition eh.

    Comment by little_stevie — October 3, 2011 @ 10:04 pm

  32. There is no “within the margin of error”. What everyone thinks the margin of error is, it isn’t.”

    +1

    Or as Marlo Stanfield said… “You want it to be one way…, but it’s the other way”

    Comment by J Mex — October 3, 2011 @ 11:19 pm

  33. Right, but the margin of error of the difference between ‘result A’ and ‘result B’ is not significant for every difference except the one for the Greens in the TVNZ poll.

    Of course, people care way too much about significance, but that’s another argument.

    Comment by david winter — October 4, 2011 @ 9:55 am

  34. So National probably rose, but might have fallen. Labour probably fell, but might have risen a little. The Greens almost certainly rose, or at least aren’t as low as the last round’s lowest estimate any more.

    And then talk about all that like it means something. When all it really says was one of the last round of polls was probably wrong about the Greens (though more likely right anyway, given history), and Labour aren’t likely rising much yet (though they will, given history), and National aren’t likely falling much yet (though they will, given history).

    Pollsters also say people want National to implement Labour’s policies. Which isn’t true, there’s just a lot of Labour people saying “don’t know” right now, and a lot of National people who don’t like their own party’s policies but are voting for them anyway.

    Comment by tussock — October 4, 2011 @ 5:09 pm

  35. The Green Party will get closer to Labour’s percentage of party votes in 2017 but not nearly close enough to beat them. I would say that the greens, at the 2017 election, will get 17% of the party vote, while Labour will get 28% of the party vote. National will get 35%, which will leave around 20% of the party votes for the minor parties (not ACT, for they won’te be in the race).

    New Zealand will then really start to see the emergence of three major parties in our politics, with the added quirk that the votes given to parties that are really minor now (ALCP, Destiny Party will pop up again, Progressives) start to skyrocket. This will be the result of a large number of factors, such as those that are teenagers now will begin to vote, those that are 70 – 80 now and tend to vote National or even Labour will die and thus mak votes for smaller parties count for more than they do now, and a spin-off of political parties from the cultures springing up in society, such as gothic, emo, spiritual/new age alternatives, hard-core Baptist and Methodist theology, a soldier’s party perhaps, that will not, for reasons of conscience, will not vote for labour or national or greens.

    Comment by Betty — October 5, 2011 @ 10:30 am


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