The Dim-Post

July 23, 2014


Filed under: Politics,polls — danylmc @ 12:11 pm

Updated the tracking poll. For variety’s sake this one goes all the way back to the start of 2005. It doesn’t correct for bias and the large circles intersecting the vertical lines are election results : nzpolls20140721nobiascorrJosie Pagani wrote a ‘what should Labour do now’ thing on Pundit that I partly agree with. (Although all such posts are predicated on the idea that Labour wants to win the election, and like I’ve said before, one of Cunliffe’s major challenges is a caucus filled with MPs who hate him and don’t want Labour to win the election while he’s leading it. They want to lose the election then assume control of the party and win in 2017, against a presumably weaker National-New Zealand First coalition. That’s not something Cunliffe can fix by ‘staying on message’ or ‘focusing on what matters’ or anything like that. It’s just a horrible reality that dooms him.)

Anyway, one of Pagani’s suggestions is:

Distance Labour from Dotcom. One reason for Labour’s poor polling is people just want to get rid of Dotcom and somehow he has become Labour’s problem now. Only because he is an enemy of our enemy.  Labour should only ever say of Dotcom, “he shouldn’t be in the country and National should not have let him in. We want him and his party nowhere near government.”

About a month ago I wrote:

Now, Internet/Mana might make good on their promise to turn out loads of young low decile voters, which might not show up in the polls but will have a huge impact on the actual election – and good on them if they do. But at this point it looks like the Harawira/Harre/Dotcom contribution to the election will be to cannibalise the left vote and scare the centre vote over to National, possibly gifting them an historic victory.

If the trend continues Labour will have to take a risk (for once) and rule out Internet/Mana from a Labour government.

So why haven’t Labour done this? I think there are a couple of reasons. The friendship between Matt McCarten, Labour’s Chief of Staff, and Laila Harre has got to be a factor here. Also, if Labour rules out Internet/Mana they’re kind of ruling out hope. There is a chance that Internet/Mana will be a ‘game-changer’ that will swing the election. I think that chance is very tiny, but it is there, and that gives some purpose to the campaign that’s absent if you’re just fighting to get Labour back into opposition with slightly more MPs. Finally there’s the culture of the contemporary Labour Party which is very conservative and risk averse. No one would want to take ownership of a call like that in case it backfired somehow.

And the chance of a ‘game-changer’ (this has come to mean ‘event that generates enormous media coverage but changes nothing’, but I use it in the original context) increased slightly with Dotcom’s revelation that Glen Greenwald will be at his town hall meeting just before the election. Now, Greenwald might just show up and talk about the 5-eyes network. But he does have full access to the Snowden documents which includes Australian and possibly New Zealand intelligence material. John Key’s staff have, apparently, searched every piece of documentation they could think of to try and find a link between Key and Dotcom prior to the police raid and they’ve come up empty, which is why Key’s been so confident about dismissing Dotcom’s claims. But they can’t be sure Greenwald doesn’t have, say, a secret Australian intelligence report discussing Key being briefed on Dotcom.

That would be an actual genuine bombshell. But would it be a game-changer? Would a significant number of people change their vote because of it? I’m guessing no.

June 17, 2014

June polls

Filed under: Politics,polls — danylmc @ 9:01 am

Updated the tracking poll to include the Herald digi-poll and last Roy Morgan poll, both of which are ‘bad for the left’. Bias corrected version below. Non bias corrected over the break.

What jumps out at me here is the comparison with the last election. Labour are trending down, just like last time – but now their votes are (mostly) going to National, not the Greens. Which makes sense to me: we have no idea what National plans to do in its third term, but that lack of vision is still preferable to being governed by a collection of left-wing parties who all hate each other but want to run the country together.



May 26, 2014


Filed under: polls — danylmc @ 9:15 am

I’ve updated the tracking poll. The bias corrected poll is below. Non bias-corrected here.


  • Things aren’t great for Labour. But they could be worse! According to John Armstrong, Shane Jones’ exit had Labour polling at ‘a mindblowing low of just 23 per cent.’ That was in National’s internal poll though. Weird how none of the public polls ever replicated that.
  • Speaking of weird, there are going to be some interesting people a ways down the New Zealand First list who will probably be MPs in six months time.
  • Not pictured but ACT is still on less than 1%, and they have a tough decision ahead of them: stick with running as a ‘classical liberal’ party or play the white supremacy card?
  • As always, when the sun goes down and the night darkens all the rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old I think of David Shearer and look at Labour’s trajectory over this term. I think of David Shearer.

May 8, 2014

Roy Morgan Polls

Filed under: polls — danylmc @ 9:47 am

Via Andrea Vance’s bottom-feeding troll feed:

morgan This attitude towards the Morgan poll seems to be a thing around Parliament rather than just Joyce spinning a bad result. Lots of journalists and staffers have told me that they don’t trust the Morgan poll, that it’s ‘always bouncing around’ etc. And the Morgan poll is always ‘bouncing around’, because the Morgan poll is roughly every two weeks, while Fairfax, say, only poll three or four times a year. Polls are noisy datasets and they jump around a bit but if you poll frequently you can generally see trends in the data while if you have very long gaps between your polls any changes you see might just be random noise.

David Winter and Gavin White both looked at how the polls performed when predicting the actual outcome of the 2011 election. I aggregated Gavin White’s data for the different parties and graphed them to show overall predictive accuracy for each pollster. (A zero would mean your poll result was totally accurate predictor – so the larger the bar the worse you did).


The Morgan poll is about middle of the pack. Their latest one might not be accurate though. It’s only one poll. After all, the gallery and political pundits all warned us that the departure of universally beloved blue-collar bloke Shane Jones meant the utter annihilation of the Labour Party, and this Morgan Poll shows them gaining tens of thousands of center voters, even before the Williamson resignation and Collins melt-down – so maybe it is a rogue. I guess the other outlets are waiting until after the budget to conduct their polls, so we might have to wait a while before we get additional data.

(NB: As Pete points out in the comments there’s an element of luck here. You might have a really accurate poll that happens to get one bad result just before the election and so you’d do poorly on this analysis.)

April 10, 2014

Jaw-dropping risk of the day

Filed under: Politics,polls — danylmc @ 12:10 pm

The Herald carries the details of the Greens attempt to form a more formal coalition with Labour:

Labour yesterday rebuffed a proposal by the Green Party to present both parties as a coalition Government in waiting during in the run-up to the September 20 election.

Labour leader David Cunliffe indicated that such a pre-election arrangement could have posed problems with post-election negotiations with other parties, such as New Zealand First.

Which might not seem like a big deal. But if you look at what’s happening in the polls over the last few months you see a pretty consistent pattern. Labour are losing votes to National and New Zealand First. But they aren’t losing any votes to the Greens.

nzpolls20140410Now there could be a bunch of reasons for that but my guess is that most Labour voters who are sympathetic to the Greens – and according to the Colmar Brunton poll that’s about 70% of Labour voters – don’t feel the need to switch because ever since the NZPower launch there’s been a kind-of-consensus that a vote for Labour is a vote for a Labour-Greens coalition. Labour’s announcement that this isn’t the case and that a vote for Labour could also be a vote for a Labour-New Zealand First coalition seems like a big risk. I can see why they took it: they want to win back those votes from National and think its going to be tough to do when they’re in a formal alliance with the Green Party. But I’d also note that Labour’s high-point during this electoral cycle came after the NZPower Labour-Greens co-announcement back in 2013, suggesting that center voters are less repulsed by the idea of a coalition than Labour’s caucus are.

March 31, 2014

Updated poll chart and various observations

Filed under: Politics,polls — danylmc @ 8:55 am

Bias corrected aggregated poll of polls below. Non-bias corrected graph here.


Safe to say that Cunliffe isn’t working out as Labour leader. He’s losing voters to National and he’s also trending down in the preferred Prime Minister rating.

Not shown, but ACT are on 0.5%. Their new leader Jamie Whyte was on Q & A this morning debating climate change with Russel Norman. We’ve heard a lot (mostly from the New Zealand Herald) about how Whyte is an intellectual giant who will rebuild ACT and restore it to its future glory. Based on his performance during the live debate I predict that ACT under his leadership will not reach 1% and he will not be elected as an MP.

National has a tricky decision to make regarding the Conservative Party. The bias-corrected poll has them on 2.9%. That’s three or four MPs IF National throws them an electorate seat. But if they do that then they might lose some voters to the Conservatives and a whole lot of center-voters might panic and switch to Labour, New Zealand First or the Greens.

I wonder what David Shearer thinks when he looks at the gap between National and Labour since the election? At the time I thought ditching Shearer was the right thing to do, but its starting to look like it was a horrible, horrible mistake.

February 2, 2014

Brief thoughts on the TV3 poll

Filed under: Politics,polls — danylmc @ 7:07 pm
  • National – 44.5 percent, down 1.9 percent
  • Labour – 33.5 percent, up 1.3 percent
  • Greens – 12.4 percent, up 2 percent
  • NZ First – 5.7 percent, up 1.5 percent
  • Conservative – 2.1 percent, down 0.7 percent
  • Maori Party – 1 percent, down 0.2 percent
  • Mana – 0.3 percent, down 1 percent
  • ACT – 0 percent, down 0.8 percent
  • United Future – 0 percent, down 0.1 percent

I know, I know – it’s only one poll. But it feels right, right? Sure, there might be a run of polls next week that completely contradict it but you can see the logic behind the movements: Key endorsed Winston Peters so a bunch of National voters switched their votes to New Zealand First. I can see that. So let’s assume the poll results are broadly accurate and the movements aren’t just random noise. 

  • It tells us that voters (or at least voters in this demographic) are listening and responding to signals from politicians. Key only made his announcement about Peters a couple of weeks ago.
  • It tells us that Conservative voters and New Zealand First voters don’t seem to overlap as much as National seemed to think they did. Key and Joyce’s grand plan, remember, is for New Zealand First and The Conservatives to both get just under the 5% threshold, wasting their votes and thus putting National into power, somehow.
  • No votes for the Internet Party. (Unless you think all those Kim Dotcom lovin’ young urban National voters aren’t being sampled because cellphones.)
  •  Voters aren’t responding to National’s ‘rock-star economy’ marketing campaign. Or maybe they are? Perhaps some voters feel more comfortable changing governments during a time of economic growth?

June 26, 2013

Confidence men

Filed under: polls — danylmc @ 9:05 am

The Herald are freaking out because they have a new poll showing Labour down six points! Our Wise and Very Serious political commentators are all over this issue:


Or, looking at the last Herald poll which had Labour up, it could be that infrequent polls with small sample sizes and long polling durations are kind of unreliable and noisy. Who knows?! The aggregated polls indicate that there hasn’t been much – if any – meaningful movement at all this year, with the arguable exception of New Zealand First trending up over the last month.

Also from the Herald poll:

A majority of voters want an inquiry into the GCSB spy agency and the SIS, the latest Herald DigiPoll survey shows.

Just over 50 per cent of voters polled this month support the inquiry which is being demanded by Labour and the Greens, while 36.9 per cent did not think it was necessary.

Let’s assume this is correct. Does it matter? Voters were also against the Mighty River sale and the Sky City deal. The majority of the population is opposed to most of National’s policies, but still supports the party. I don’t know why this is, but there are some obvious theories:

1. National has the fundamentals right. The economy really is improving, and most voters place more importance on that than they do on policy issues

2. Voters don’t find Labour a palatable alternative (presumably because it is poorly led and under-performing on various fronts.)

3. Swing voters are comfortable with Labour and its leadership but aren’t confident that the proposed Labour-Greens-New Zealand First coalition will lead to stable government.

June 21, 2013

Let’s cut to the chase

Filed under: polls — danylmc @ 1:08 pm

Here’s an updated poll chart (adjusting for poll bias.) Here’s what the chart looks like if you don’t adjust for poll bias (notice how the curve misses the actual election results?) Here’s Vincent Price on the Muppet Show singing ‘You Got a Friend.’

May 29, 2013

Signal and noise

Filed under: polls — danylmc @ 8:47 am

Fairfax have a new political poll out. National is up and Labour are down (their last poll had Labour up and National down). Fairfax Political Editor Tracy Watkins offers the obligatory post-hoc rationalisation here:

Labour has taken bold steps in policy, including its affordable housing plan, reforming the power market, a capital gains tax and raising the pension age.

Admittedly, there is a reason why policies like the capital gains tax and raising the pension age haven’t been tried before. They are deeply unpopular.

We heard this for years: a Capital Gains Tax is ‘political suicide’. Then Labour introduced it as a policy last election, the media polled on it, and it was actually pretty popular. 43% support; ie way more popular than the actual Labour Party, then or now.

There’s something similar going on in Vernon Small’s story about the actual poll results:

Mr Key’s decisive handling of the Aaron Gilmore furore and the aftermath of Labour and the Greens’ power policy have also helped lift National’s support.

Again, there’s actual hard data on public support for the Labour Greens’ power policy: the TV3 Reid Research poll found that 54% of the population supported it. That seems like an unlikely cause for a slump in popularity. I really dread that we’re going to spend the next eighteen months hearing the gallery assure us that policies that enjoy broad support from the electorate are ‘political suicide’.

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