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.
Now 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.
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.
- 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?
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.
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.’
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’.
From NZPA, 15th July 1998
Labour is ahead in the latest One Network News-Colmar Brunton poll, up five points to 42 percent, while National has lost one point to 36 percent. The two parties were level-pegging, on 37 percent, in the June poll. In last night’s poll the Alliance was steady on 9 percent. ACT lost three points to 8 percent. New Zealand First dropped from 2.1 percent to 1.9 percent. The poll of 1000 voters was taken July 6-9, about the time of bad economic figures, news of the $300 million in spending cuts and confirmation that Japan was in recession. Undecided voters totalled 13 percent. In the preferred Prime Minister stakes, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley dropped two points to 29 percent and Labour leader Helen Clark rose from 17 percent to 21 percent. The coalition Government got a 76 percent disapproval rating compared with 72 percent in the June poll. – NZPA
So that was Clark led-Labour about eighteen months out from their victory in 1999.
I’ve updated the tracking poll, below; interactive version here. But what strikes me is how low Shearer is rating as preferred Prime Minister. 10.5% in the 3 News Reid Poll and 12% in the One News Colmar Brunton. About 30 points behind Key. I’m no political scientist, but I suspect electoral turn-out is lower when hardly any of your supporters want your leader running the country. As the archival story above suggests, contrary to received Labour Party wisdom, Clark wasn’t ‘single digits unpopular’ at this point in the electoral cycle.
(This aggregated poll written in R by Peter Green adjusts for poll bias: it looks at polls prior to the last election and the actual outcome of the election, adjusts it and then merges the adjusted results together.)
A couple of weeks ago we got a phone call one evening from an outfit called ‘Wellington Business Statistics’. They were doing a ‘survey’ and asked for incredibly detailed financial information. Salaries, mortgage size, amount owing, amount saved for retirement etc. It seemed incredibly suspicious. They aren’t registered with the companies office and a Google Search for ‘Wellington Business Statistics’ doesn’t bring up a web site for the them. Mostly it hits people asking about them on twitter, and one tweeter alleging:
If you get a phone survey from “Wellington Business Statistics“, hang up – it’s a front for a finance sales scam – they don’t exist
Someone I follow on twitter tweeted about them again today. Anyone else know anything about ‘Wellington Business Statistics’?
Latest aggregated poll, click here for the interactive version (
it doesn’t contain the latest TV3 numbers it does now).
My guess about what’s happening at the moment is that centrist voters are soft on National, but if they vote for National they get National plus some insignificant, powerless support parties, while if they vote Labour they’re also effectively endorsing the Greens and Winston Peters since they’ll be major components of the Labour-led government, and most of those center-voters distrust Peters and/or the Greens to the extent that they’ll continue supporting National despite the ongoing blunders and disappointments.
I’ve seen people on Twitter wondering how anyone could still support National, but if you think about the Shearer-led Labour/Greens/New Zealand First alternative, it’s hard to imagine that being anything other than a short-lived disaster. Centrist support for National seems very sensible from that perspective.
Thanks again to Peter Green for the R code. Image is below, but you should really go here for the interactive SVG version.
More poll geekiness over the jump: