Results from an informal electoral system survey

November 16th, 2011 at 10:42 am by David Farrar

On and I did an informal survey asking people how they will vote in Part B of the . I did not ask about Part A. The results were:

Twitter Facebook Total Twitter % Facebook % Total %
FPP           4               1       5 10% 3% 7%
PV           2               1       3 5% 3% 4%
          8             22     30 21% 63% 41%
        25             11     36 64% 31% 49%
        39             35     74 100% 100% 100%

The difference between the Facebook responses and the Twitter responses are interesting. Twitter people went massively for STV while Facebook went massively for SM. Very few people went for FPP or PV. Almost all those who chose FPP said they were doing so tactically as they were supporters, and see FPP as the system least likely to win in 2014 if there is a second referendum.

Some tentative conclusions I draw.

  1. Those on Twitter and Facebook (well those who follow me anyway) are far more politically astute than the general population, as FPP is by far the most popular option with the public who only know FPP and MMP, but very few picked it in this survey.
  2. If one assumes that those who punted for SM tend to be more right leaning, it suggests that people on Twitter are more left-leaning. This reinforces my general impression over a couple of years.
  3. I think those who are of a different political persuasion to each other are generally more willing to engage on Twitter, than on Facebook. You tend to see someone’s Facebook page as “their property” so don’t challenge them as much, while Twitter is seen as basically neutral ground and one gets far more challenging of views.
  4. Most MMP supporters will vote for STV and most MMP opponents will vote for SM, at least amongst the politically aware. This is based on my general knowledge of those who responded. I didn’t ask about Part A as I didn’t want it to turn into a debate on MMP. I may do a later informal survey on Part A.

I’m still amazed that to the best of my knowledge there are no TV debates scheduled on the referendum. Sure there has been the odd segment on Breakfast TV or Close Up where proponents have exchanged views. But I think the referendum deserves the same scrutiny as the election. There should be a 60 to 90 minute debate or debates. I’d do it like a leader’s debates. Have a couple of proponents for keep MMP and change MMP and a panel of journalists questioning them. Pretty much like Radio NZ did it, but you know on TV where you reach massively more viewers.

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8 Responses to “Results from an informal electoral system survey”

  1. Mark Thomson (82 comments) says:

    DPF wrote:

    1. Those on Twitter and Facebook (well those who follow me anyway) are far more politically astute than the general population, as FPP is by far the most popular option with the public who only know FPP and MMP, but very few picked it in this survey.
    2. If one assumes that those who punted for SM tend to be more right leaning, it suggests that people on Twitter are more left-leaning. This reinforces my general impression over a couple of years.

    Or you could have taken the logic you used in point 1 and applied it to point 2 and concluded that those on Twitter are more politically astute than those on FB!

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  2. tvb (4,430 comments) says:

    These tiny results are so small as to be utterly meaningless, sometimes I wonder about your statistical ability.

    [DPF: Sometimes I wonder about why you are such a fuckwit.

    What part of informal did you not understand? Anyone not a moron could see it was a vox pop type survey, not a scientific poll.]

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  3. e-clectic (1 comment) says:

    Completely agree that we need more public debate on the referendum. Actually, how confident can we be that the results of the referendum will truly reflect the electorate’s wishes?
    At the 2008 election the Electoral Commission conducted a survey (http://www.elections.org.nz/study/researchers/mmp-tracking/mmp-understanding-2008.html). In my view the results were pathetic – 67% recording the party vote as more important and 34% able to articulate the party threshold criteria. The difference between the two main parties in that election was 11% and 6.55% of party votes were wasted (to parties under threshold).
    I have little confidence that we can assume that MMP actually delivers to voters’ intentions.
    MMP is not the be all and end all – it just happens to produce a fairer result than FPP (election by electoral boundary). STV addresses all of MMP’s weirdness (lists, overhangs, non-intuitive, thresholds, cosy deals and missing electorate representatives) and retains all the benefits.

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  4. Rosco2 (2 comments) says:

    Hi David – my take on the MMP debate – sorry wasn’t sure where to put it :)

    Let us be very clear. In comparing MMP and FFP as the proponents of MMP are wont to do, we are not comparing apples with apples. In fact MMP is so far from the core of the “Westminster” system as to be farcical.

    MMP is about parties – not about the individual.

    The house of commons – has a ring about it doesn’t it. The common people vote for individuals and elevate them to parliament. The winner is the “person” that polls the most votes, not the biggest percentage, not a part of a percentage, just the greatest number of votes. Of course, as I have read many times over the past two decades, those that voted for someone else (normally termed the loser in a fair contest) are wasted votes! So therefore, potentially 49.999% votes are “wasted” in any election.

    Hmmmm! Lets think about this again. If I do not achieve a result, my vote is wasted. Not what I was bought up to understand – not by a long stretch. The only wasted vote is a non vote in any democracy in my humble opinion.

    The house of commons was designed to deliver democracy to a system that had been ruled for centuries by the aristocracy – its amazing what a good sword and a document called the magna carta can do for a country – unfortunately for the brits, they still have the house of Lords to contend with – a situation that NZ is happily not a party to.

    The British, I contend have delivered through the Westminster sytem of governance, the best and fairest solution to the complex world of politics, the justice system and ultimately to the citizen.

    Like any system, the Westminster system needs to change and grow as the population changes and grows – examples of those changes are – the Prime minister – that person who can gaurantee to the queens representative that he can pass legislation by having greater than 50% of the votes in parliament. (the cynics amongst you may notice that a 5% threshold does not apply in this circumstance – MMP proponents have told me there’s a very good reason – this has yet to be disclosed!!) This the queens representative accepts – however, the cunning old brits determined this wasn’t good enough – a Prime minister and his government must survive a vote of confidence on a regular basis to ensure that they continue to have a mandate by those elected. (opps sorry MMP thats where things get really bad – list = not elected). Now for those republicans omongst you, the queens rep could easily be our rep – he/she just needs to be independent and have the power to throw out the unworthy. (simple words – but serious subject!)

    If the good old PM is defeated, then we the common people get to vote again – and banish those that have in any way peeved us (opps – sorry not with MMP – gee you just gotta love the list haven’t you)

    A second example of a change made to the Westminster system is the cabinet – appointees of the prime minister who run (administer or shortened – minister) departments – eg. Department of justice.

    And it goes on – The privy council – dash – sorry forgot, trashed by an unelected minister who went on to lead the house (of NZ commons) – unelected = voted for by zip, nada, no one in a general election. In fact zero wasted votes! Margaret Wilson – the most powerfull person unelected to the NZ parliament (she could be surplanted by Don Brash!!)

    We the NZ public deserve better! I don’t care if 4.7% of NZ people think that Winston Peters is a good guy. His electorate didn’t! 4.7%of the popular vote would not elect him to council, or onto any board of a public company. Why is government any different.

    Ah you say, but what about the Greens, Bob Jones a few years ago etc etc. Or what about when labour got 51% and National 49%. The simple answer is. Jeanette Fitzimons was a duly elected member of a constituant seat in our government. She alone was given the majority vote by her peers. End of story. National percentages should mean nothing. Our representatives have to convince us, the electorate, that they are the best person for the job.

    I am not an advocate for FPP. In fact I’m not sure what I will vote for. The one certainty is that I will vote for a system where every representative has passed the test of their peers – we the common herd – the voters!.

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  5. Scott Chris (6,150 comments) says:

    David Farrar says:- “I’m still amazed that to the best of my knowledge there are no TV debates scheduled on the referendum.”

    Well I agree with that much. In fact there almost seems to be a conspiracy of silence in the press, and relatively few published polls.

    Can’t see why you got so pissed at tvb. I don’t see much point in vox pops either. The only tentative conclusion that I would draw is that people who follow you on fb and twitter are more politically informed than your average joe.

    And it is more pertinent that they ‘follow you’ than by what means IMO.

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  6. V (720 comments) says:

    That sample size is embarrassing.

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  7. Mary Rose (393 comments) says:

    >Almost all those who chose FPP said they were doing so tactically as they were MMP supporters, and see FPP as the system least likely to win

    I can see a slight danger there (if EVERYONE votes for the one they think will lose….) ;-)

    Of course, if you have FPP, tactical voting is a major issue in many seats. Vote for your second choice to keep out the person you hate.

    >Rosco2
    > If I do not achieve a result, my vote is wasted. Not what I was bought up to understand – not by a long stretch. The only wasted vote is a non vote in any democracy in my humble opinion.

    If you live in a seat that has been say Labour for 100 years (or however long they’ve had Labour) and where the sitting MP always gets 70% of the vote and where Labour would still win by miles if he died and was replaced by a puppet with a Labour rosette – then you’re going to feel your vote for the Conservatives is wasted.
    It will never, ever achieve what you wish for.

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  8. Rosco2 (2 comments) says:

    >Mary Rose
    >then you’re going to feel your vote for the Conservatives is wasted.
    It will never, ever achieve what you wish for.

    You have made my point rather well I think Mary Rose! You assume that everyone should get what THEY want. This of course is not possible. The majority should define what occurs, not the minority. In the seat you specify above, if I am not satisfied with the result, I have two options – 1. Move, or 2. Become politically active and set about changing the views of the voters in the electorate. One person one vote – no vote is wasted as every single vote has the same power in an election. Your view as expressed above is why we had MMP foisted upon us. That there is a way for everyone to get what they want – it is like saying dice have memory. No system can give everyone what they want. If the minority want change, they need to become the majority – not put in a fudge system like MMP that distorts the power of the minor parties and list MP’s.

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