Labour third in Epsom

August 10th, 2014 at 6:17 pm by David Farrar

One News reports:

Six weeks out from the election and the National Party is leading the way in the Epsom electorate, a poll has revealed today.

A Colmar Brunton poll carried out by TVNZ’s Q + A programme sees National sitting with a comfortable lead in the Epsom electorate, with 60% of those polled in the electorate saying they would vote for National in the election.

The Green Party, in second place, trailed far behind with only 16% of Epsom voters saying they would give their party vote to the Greens.

Labour were 3rd on 14%.

This makes you wonder how many other seats or areas now have Labour in 3rd place for the party vote? The Greens will be very happy, and Labour should be quite worried.

When polled on who they would vote for with their electorate vote, 44% of Epsom voters said they would vote for National MP Paul Goldsmith while 32% said they would vote for Act Party candidate David Seymour.

When asked if they were aware that Prime Minister John Key is encouraging National Party supporters to give their electorate vote to the Act Party candidate, 70% said they were.

When asked if this would change who they would give their electorate vote to, 45% said they would vote for Act’s David Seymour, while 31% said they would still vote for National’s Paul Goldsmith.

That looks pretty comfortable for David Seymour. ACT have never actually led in a public pre-election poll in Epsom despite winning in 2005, 2008 and 2011.  So for them to be ahead six weeks out is a pretty strong signal that they will win the seat.

This means that a vote for ACT will not be a wasted vote. Last time they got 1.1%. If they get 0.1% more and get 1.2% then they get a second MP.

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Voters reject Labour’s class size policy as best use of money

July 23rd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealanders would rather money was spent on improving teaching standards than on reducing class sizes, a Herald-DigiPoll survey reveals.

Education has become a political battleground before September’s election, with both major parties promising to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on it.

Asked about their priorities, more than 60 per cent of those polled said they would spend money on trying to improve teaching standards rather than cutting class sizes.

Labour has included reducing class sizes in its election policies.

Another of its policies, a promise to pay schools which do not ask parents for donations, gained support in the poll.

National has pledged $359 million for a scheme that would pay the best teachers and principals more.

Labour countered by promising to use that money to instead hire 2000 more teachers and reduce class sizes.

Asked about those policies, 61 per cent of those polled said the money was better spent on trying to improve teaching standards.

Thirty-five per cent thought it should be used to cut class sizes.

Excellent. Voters understand quality is more important than quantity.

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Labour at 15 year low in Herald Digipoll

July 20th, 2014 at 11:16 am by David Farrar

Another day, another rogue poll. At what point will Labourites accept they are polling well under 30%?

The Herald reports:

Labour’s support has slumped to its worst rating for 15 years in the latest DigiPoll survey, putting critical pressure on leader David Cunliffe.

Its 26.5 per cent support is a slide of four points since June.

With just two months to the election, Labour could slip into the disastrous territory held by National in 2002, when it polled 20.93 per cent in the face of the highly popular Labour Government.

On this poll of decided voters National would be able to govern alone comfortably and gain another 10 MPs.

National has jumped 4.5 points to 54.9 per cent. A Stuff/Ipsos poll earlier this week also put support for National at 54.8 per cent.

Prime Minister John Key is more popular than he has ever been, scoring preferred prime minister on 73.3 per cent, compared with Cunliffe on 10.5 per cent and New Zealand First’s Winston Peters on 5.5 per cent.

Its a good result but with MMP the guy preferred with 10.3% can beat the guy preferred by 73.3%. Labour could poll in the 20s yet still form a Government. There is no room for complacency. Every vote is important.

Labour’s total support is down from 30.5 per cent in June, but it is disproportionately down among male voters, with only 23.9 per cent of men backing Labour, compared with 29.1 per cent of women.

I apologise for polling so badly as a man.

Political commentator Chris Trotter said the poll indicated Labour was “more or less bereft of hope”.

“Labour is in an extremely parlous position, and the situation is deteriorating.”

I never regard someone as dead until I have chopped the head off, put a stake through the head and burnt the corpse. A lot can still happen in 62 days.

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Two new polls

July 17th, 2014 at 7:41 am by David Farrar

Two new polls out in the last 24 hours. A Roy Morgan last night and a Fairfax Ipsos poll this morning.


This shows the current size and time weighted average of all the public polls.

Labour have been in the 20s in the last seven polls. The last two polls had them at 23.5% and 24.9%. The average of all polls has them polling below what they got in 2011. By comparison in Sep 2011 they were polling at 32.5% so they are now polling 7% lower than at the same stage of 2011.

This is no reason to be complacent, as National always drops away when in Government during an election campaign. However it is hard to see how Labour can credibly form a Government if they get a result in the 20s, even if it becomes mathematically possible.

Just 65 days to go until the election.


June public polls

July 6th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar


Look at that trend!

The summary of the monthly polling newsletter is:

There were a whopping seven political polls in June – three Roy Morgans, a One News Colmar Brunton, a 3 News Reid Research, a Herald DigiPoll and a Fairfax Ipsos.

The average of the public polls has National 23% ahead of Labour in June, up 5% from May and up 9% April. The current seat projection is centre-right 67 seats, centre-left 53 which would see a centre-right Government.

In Australia Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s approval ratings fall from +6% to -11%, but despite this Labour increases their two party preferred lead to 10%.

In the United States the country direction gets more negative and President Obama’s approval ratings fall in all three major policy areas. 

In the UK Labour has a narrow 4% lead over the Conservatives but Ed Miliband continues to have awful approval ratings, dropping to -45%. Scottish independence polls show the no vote ahead by 3% to 19% with an average 12% gap.

In Canada the Conservatives are now projected to win more seats than the Liberals, despite being behind in the polls.

The normal two tables are provided comparing the country direction sentiment and head of government approval sentiment for the five countries. A new third table has been added, comparing approval ratings for opposition leaders in the four countries that have one.

We also carry details of polls in New Zealand on coalitions, Team NZ, Maui’s Dolphins, most important issues, MMP, tax cuts, National’s leadership, the Mana/Internet alliance, political fundraising, capital gains tax, cannabis and immigration, plus the normal business and consumer confidence polls.

This newsletter is normally only available by e-mail.  If you would like to receive future issues, please go to to subscribe yourself.



Latest poll

June 26th, 2014 at 6:41 pm by David Farrar

I’ve blogged at Curiablog the latest poll results from 3 News Reid Research.


This is the average of all the recent polls, weighted for size and recency.


Labour hits 23%

June 19th, 2014 at 7:17 am by David Farrar

I’ve blogged at Curiablog the results of the latest Fairfax Ipsos poll which has Labour plummet to 23% and National up 9% to 56%.

It is important to note that this poll was taken BEFORE yesterday’s revelations that Cunliffe denial’s about involvement with secret Labour Party donor Dong Liu were false. God knows where they would be today, except to say they seem well place to beat National’s record low of 21% in 2002.

Stuff says Labour would be reduced to 29 seats on this poll. They have (effectively) 23 electorate seats so that means they would get only six list MPs. Of course it might be fewer than that if NZ First does make 5% and/or they win any extra Maori seats.

So who loses their seat on this poll:

Kelvin Davis, Carol Beaumont, Rajen Prasad, Moana Mackey and Andrew Little all go, plus no replacements for Jones, Fenton and Prasad,

The MP on the verge of losing her seat is Jacinda Ardern.  But she could be saved by Labour’s gender equity rule. For this election 47% of caucus must be female.   That means at least 14 of the 29 MP must be female.  Of Labour’s 23 electorate seats (I include Kelston), nine are female. So 5 of the 6 List MPs must be female. So David Parker would just keep his seat, but all other male List MPs would be gone.


Danyl on the polls

June 18th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Danyl Mc blogs:

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.

Nicely stated.

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Latest poll

June 17th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Internet-Mana Party would get two seats in Parliament based on the first major poll since the two parties cut a deal to stand together.

But, three months shy of the election, Labour is still struggling and the left bloc is well adrift from National, which could easily govern alone based on theHerald-DigiPoll survey.

The results for the Mana Party, Internet Party and Internet-Mana Party totalled 1.4 per cent in the survey – a modest start for the newly launched party which was the centre of attention in the lead-up to the polling period.

That is enough to get new Internet Party leader Laila Harre into Parliament if Mana leader Hone Harawira holds his Te Tai Tokerau electorate.

But the votes appear to have been at the expense of the Green Party which dropped to 11 per cent, down 2.5 points since the last Herald-DigiPoll survey in March.

One extra MP for Mana, and three less MPs for the Greens. I’ll take that!

That will worry the Greens, especially if Internet-Mana, bankrolled with $3 million from Kim Dotcom, starts to pick up more momentum.


With a party vote based on the poll of 50.4 per cent, National maintains a strong lead and is 20 points ahead of Labour which is up one to 30.5 per cent. National would have 64 seats, enough to govern without any support partners and 10 more seats than the left bloc of Labour, the Greens and Internet-Mana.

95 days to go.


NZ public poll methodologies

June 10th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar


Andrew at Grumpollie has put together this very useful table showing the different methodologies of the five public pollsters (I don’t count Horizon) in NZ.

Russell Brown at Public Address noted:

One big advantage for the political Left of John Banks’ sorry experience with the courts last week is that it meant people weren’t talking about the Left’s really awful result in the latest Roy Morgan poll.

Morgan has National up seven points to 52.5% support, and Labour and the Greens both down to a combined 38%. The Greens shed 4.5 points to slump to 9% support, their lowest level since 2011. This will hurt at The Standard and the Daily Blog, where Roy Morgan polls and their inclusion of mobile phones are something of an article of faith.

It’s possible that this is an outlier poll — it does, after all, show Act doubling its support — but while Gary Morgan’s commentary on the results is typically bonkers, there’s nothing in particular wrong with the company’s methodology. And, significantly, the swing is reflected in the regular Government Confidence Rating (whether New Zealand is “heading in the right direction” or not.) It simply looks like a very healthy post-Budget poll for National.

But a friend put another interpretation to me on Friday: that the public has had a look at Internet-Mana and decided a potential centre-left coalition is really not to its taste. Perhaps Labour has internal polling to similar effect, explaining the spluttering reaction of of a number of Labour MPs to the prospect of cooperating with the party of Kim Dotcom and Laila Harre.

The commentary on the Roy Morgan polls is generally hilarious, and somewhat removed from reality. This doesn’t mean their polls are inaccurate.

However what Andrew’s table shows is that we know very little about how they conduct their polls – which would help people make a judgement on reliability.

The other four pollsters have signed up to the NZ Political Polling Code. This requires signatories to publicly release significant aspects of their methodologies. This is an important step for transparency. Roy Morgan has not signed up to the code, and we don’t know a lot about how their polls are done. We don’t even know if they weight the polls to the NZ adult population.

This doesn’t mean their polls are wrong, just as it doesn’t mean pollsters who have signed up will always get it right. For example a poll I did on attitudes to smoking and lung cancer found a lower prevalence rate for smoking than the census. Now the census figure is almost certainly the more accurate, so the difference may be down to how people respond to a phone poll vs a census, or it may be that even with weighting we under-surveyed current smokers. Good pollsters will always be critiquing their own methodology and considering how to enhance or review it.

It would be a very good thing if Roy Morgan did release more information on their methodology, so people can understand their results better in the right context.

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Latest poll

June 5th, 2014 at 3:18 pm by David Farrar

The latest Roy Morgan poll is here.

  • National 52.5% (+7%)
  • Labour 29.0% (-1.5%)
  • Greens 9.0% (-4.5%)
  • NZ First 4.5% (-1.5%)
  • Maori 1.5% (+0.5%)
  • Act 1.0% (+0.5%)
  • Conservative 1.0% (nc)
  • Mana/Internet 1.0% (-0.5%)
  • United 0% (nc)

Also right direction is 64.5% (+4.5%), wrong direction 24.0% (-4.0%).

Only one poll and Roy Morgan always bounces around a lot. But still quite a result.


Public Polls May 2014

June 1st, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar


That trend for Labour is very pronounced!

The newsletter summary is:

Curia’s Polling Newsletter – Issue 77, May 2014

 There were just four political polls in May – a Roy Morgan, a One News Colmar Brunton, a 3 News Reid Research and a Fairfax Ipsos.

The average of the public polls has National 19% ahead of Labour in May, up 5% from April. The current seat projection is centre-right 62 seats, centre-left 52 which would see a centre-right Government.

In Australia PM Tony Abbott’s approval rating has plummeted in the aftermath of the Budget. In one month it has gone from a net -10% to a net -29%. Two months ago he was 6% ahead as Preferred PM, and now is 11% behind Bill Shorten.

In the United States little change in the US this month, despite the scandal over veterans’ care. 

In the UK Labour has a narrow 3% lead over the Conservatives but Ed Miliband continues to have awful approval ratings. The UKIP was the big winner in the Council and European elections. Scottish independence polls show the no vote ahead by 7% to 12% with an average 10% gap.

In Canada the Liberals and Conservatives are projected to be almost neck and neck in terms of likely seats won.

The normal two tables are provided comparing the country direction sentiment and head of government approval sentiment for the five countries. A new third table has been added, comparing approval ratings for opposition leaders in the four countries that have one.

We also carry details of polls in New Zealand on the Budget, immigration, house prices, interest rates, spending, marriage and smacking plus the normal business and consumer confidence polls.

This newsletter is normally only available by e-mail.  If you would like to receive future issues, please go to to subscribe yourself.




Editorials on polls

May 27th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

Political opinion polls come so thick and fast during an election year it is tempting to pass over them with indifference.

The results of two announced at the weekend, though, were so contrary to conventional political wisdom that they demanded attention. …

A well-received Budget took the heat off last week, but the consensus was that the first opinion polls taken while those events were still fresh in voters’ minds would punish the Government.

The outcome was quite different – not only were National and the Prime Minister up and Labour, its leader David Cunliffe and most Opposition parties down, National would, if the results were translated into votes at the election, win sufficient seats not to need a support party. 

The well-received Budget may explain part of it. One of the polls found that even two-thirds of those who identified themselves as Labour supporters backed it.

But another part of the explanation for the poll results may be that what transfixes those in the Wellington political bubble can often be less than earth-shattering in the wider world where most voters live.

I think that is right.  I think Labour especially suffers from Wellingtonitis because so few of its MPs come from provincial areas. The test is what the mums are talking about at the school gates or what the chatter is in the smoko rooms. Almost none of them were talking Oravida.

The Herald editorial:

So much for Oravida, Judith Collins, Maurice Williamson. National’s troubles of the past two months have evaporated in two separate public opinion polls taken since the Budget. Colmar Brunton, for TVNZ, and Reid Research for TV3, both find more than half of their sample intending to vote National. This must be devastating for Labour, whose sustained barrage on Ms Collins in Parliament over the past two months does not appear to have moved any votes.

They have moved votes. From Labour to National.

Four months out from the election, Labour is the party in trouble. It ought to be polling well above 30 per cent by this stage to have much hope of success in September. If its result is not 10 or more points higher at the election, it must be doubted it could lead a credible government.

David Cunliffe said his aim is to poll higher than National – at a minimum get into the 40s. 116 days to go.

Labour leader David Cunliffe said of the latest polls, it is “still fairly early days” and they would “bounce right back again”. It is very late in the day. Most voters make up their minds well before the election campaign begins, though it is true that campaigns restore voters’ usual loyalties. Labour is likely to do better than 30 per cent, National will almost certainly fall short of 50 per cent.

But right now the prospects for Labour could hardly look worse. It has fired its best shots in the past two months and the voters are unmoved. The economy is growing, the Prime Minister is popular and so far there is no prevailing mood for change.

But as both editorial say, Labour might make it through a Labour-Greens-NZ First-Mana-Dotcom alliance.

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Still fairly early days

May 26th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Mr Cunliffe, who has struggled to match the modest poll showings by his predecessor David Shearer, said it was “still fairly early days” and “this is going to bounce right back again”. “The only poll that counts is the one on election day,” he said.

There are 117 days until the election. David Cunliffe became leader 253 days ago. Not sure how you call that early days.

Patrick Gower blogs:

David Cunliffe needs to walk into Labour’s “war-room” right now and re-name it “the panic station”.

Labour’s big fear right now will be its vote collapsing completely.

Labour will be worried that voters decide it can’t win – and instead vote for New Zealand First, the Greens or just stay at home.

Last night’s 3 News/Reid Research poll has National on 50.3 percent and Labour on 29.5 percent.

John Key was on 43.2 percent and Cunliffe 9.8 percent as preferred Prime Minister

Scorelines of 50-29 and 43-9 – on the rugby pitch, that’s what you call a thrashing.

In our first poll of the year, Cunliffe could have been Prime Minister. Now he is polling worse than David Shearer is when Labour threw him out.

Labour is suddenly in serious strife.

Let’s look at how things were in 2002, 2005 and 2008, four months before an election.

In 2008 National was 18% ahead of Labour four months out, and John Key was at 38% for Preferred Prime Minister.

In 2005 National was at 39%, just 5% behind Labour four months out. Don Brash was at 20% for Preferred Prime Minister

Interesting in 2002, National was at 32% four months out from the 2002 election. Bill English was at 14% for Preferred Prime Minister.

There is the potential for the Greens and/or NZ First to do very well this election.

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TV polls

May 25th, 2014 at 6:59 pm by David Farrar

I’ve blogged at curiablog the results of the One News Colmar Brunton poll and the 3 News Reid Research poll.

They are very close to each other. What they have in common is:

  • National up significantly
  • Labour down
  • National above 50%
  • Labour on or below 30%
  • NZ First close to or above the 5% threshold
  • National around 10% ahead of Labour/Greens combined
  • Cunliffe still lower than David Shearer was for Preferred Prime Minister

There’s now only 118 days until the election.


Stuff rates the leaders

May 18th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Will the real David Cunliffe please stand up?

That’s the message from experts who claim the Labour leader is failing to connect with the voting public because he’s not being true to himself.

It’s a sentiment reflected strongly in the latest political poll in which people were asked to play a word association game with Cunliffe and Prime Minister John Key.

Asked to sum up the leaders in one word, people opted for “good” when describing Key, but words included confidence, arrogance, charismatic, leader and a suite of words lumped together as “profanity”.

For Cunliffe, words like untrustworthy, arrogant and shifty were more likely to be used along with trying, promising and inexperienced.

What would be interesting is to see the breakdown by how people say they will vote.

Former TVNZ political commentator turned media trainer Bill Ralston said Cunliffe came across like he “doesn’t know himself”.

“He always appears to be acting. You know, ‘I’m going to be angry now, I’m going to be funny now, I’m going to be serious’. I don’t know what or who the real David Cunliffe is but we haven’t seen him yet. It’s that inauthenticity that’s the issue. He just is not pitching himself as a normal person.”

Ralston, who helped train Key, said the Prime Minister and New Zealand First’s Winston Peters were leaders who had “clearly identified characteristics and personalities – you can almost guess what they are going to say or do next whereas Cuniffe, there’s something that just doesn’t ring true”.

Cunliffe, who at times proved he had the ability to connect, was a thoughtful man who was likely to be over-analysing problems, he said. “He shouldn’t try to be anything else other than himself.”

Media trainer Brian Edwards, who has worked with Cunliffe, said the Labour leader was coming across poorly “which is curious because in the past he’s come across very well indeed. He doesn’t look relaxed, he doesn’t look spontaneous, he looks like he is reciting extended sound bites that he has been given by advisers.”

I think Ralston and Edwards both have perceptive comments.

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72% against big spending increases

May 15th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports on their Ipsos poll that only 21% of adults said the Budget should see a big increase in spending, 51% say the current spending levels should be maintained and 21% say spending should be cut.

So 72% are against increasing spending beyond current levels. That’s excellent for those who believe in fiscal restraint and a rejection of those who propose big tax and spending increases.

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Labour hits the 20s during “National’s worst week”

May 14th, 2014 at 6:56 am by David Farrar

Commentators called last week National’s worst week since the election. Stuff today have published a poll that was conducted from Saturday until Monday, immediately at the end of what was called National’s worst week.

I’ve blogged the results at Curiablog, which show National at 48%, Labour dipping below 30% and David Cunliffe dropping 3.9% as Preferred Prime Minister.

Grant Robertson will be a happy man. He only has 129 days to wait until he can become Labour Party Leader!


April 2014 polls

May 11th, 2014 at 12:48 pm by David Farrar


Just published the latest monthly newsletter. The summary is:

There were just three political polls in April – all from Roy Morgan. Hence the poll average for April is based just on their polls.

The average of the public polls has National 14% ahead of Labour in April, down 3% from March. The current seat projection is centre-right 57 seats, centre-left 55 which would see NZ First holding the balance of power.

In Australia support for the Government falls after their plans to impose a temporary tax on higher income earners was revealed.

In the United States President Obama’s numbers are improving slightly for domestic policy, but dropping for foreign policy. The Republicans now lead in generic congressional polls. 

In the UK David Cameron’s approval ratings have fallen away as polls show the UK Independence Party leading for the upcoming European elections. Scottish independence polls show the no vote ahead by 2% to 14% with an average 6% gap.

In Canada the Conservatives are up 3% but remain behind the Liberals who are projected likely to form a minority government.

The normal two tables are provided comparing the country direction sentiment and head of government approval sentiment for the five countries. The mood in Australia has dropped significantly in the last month.

We also carry details of polls in New Zealand on the republicanism, the NZ Flag, registering dog owners plus the normal business and consumer confidence polls.

This newsletter is normally only available by e-mail.  If you would like to receive future issues, please go to to subscribe yourself.



Latest poll

April 19th, 2014 at 3:06 pm by David Farrar

Roy Morgan reports:

Today’s New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows a large jump in support for National (48.5%, up 5.5%) now with its largest lead over a potential Labour/Greens alliance (40%, down 5%) since July 2013 …

Support for the Labour Party has fallen to 28.5% (down 3.5%) – clearly the lowest support under new Labour Leader David Cunliffe, and the lowest Labour support since April 2012 …

Also of interest:

The latest NZ Roy Morgan Government Confidence Rating has jumped to 143pts (up 10pts) with 65% (down 4%) of New Zealanders saying New Zealand is ‘heading in the right direction’ compared to 22% (down 6%) that say New Zealand is ‘heading in the wrong direction’.

I guess New Zealanders are not as fascinated over Oravida, as Labour are.


March public polls

April 1st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar



The above graphs tracks all the public polls since the election, averaging them out every month. The trend for Labour over the last six months is quite pronounced.

The newsletter summary is:


There were five political polls in March – a One News Colmar Brunton poll, a Fairfax Reid Research poll, a NZ Herald Digipoll and two Roy Morgan polls.

The average of the public polls has National 17% ahead of Labour in March, the same margin as in February. The current seat projection is centre-right 64 seats, centre-left 56 which would see National form a Government.

In Australia Labor retains a narrow lead, but there have been improvements in the national mood.

In the United States President Obama’s numbers are stable overall but dipping for handing of foreign policy – probably due to the Ukraine crisis.

In the UK Labour’s lead has dipped to just 3% in the wake of a generally positive budget for the Government. David Cameron’s ratings are also increasing.

In Canada the Liberals remain ahead in the polls, but no party is projected likely to win a majority.

We also carry details of polls in New Zealand on the Kim Dotcom, the NZ Flag, Countdown, Len Brown, income inequality Labour’s baby bonus plus the normal business and consumer confidence polls.

This newsletter is normally only available by e-mail.  If you would like to receive future issues go to to subscribe yourself.


Opposition Leader in the Preferred PM poll

March 31st, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar



Most Opposition Leaders go up in the Preferred PM polls after they get elected. Goff and Shearer did. Cunliffe has only declined since he was elected. The opposition his poll ratings seem most similar to are Jim McLay.


Not quite right

March 27th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Richard Prebble writes in The Letter:

Maybe the Fairfax media is right that ACT will do exceptionally well. In the Herald poll ACT has gone from zero to .8%. As a percentage increase that is an infinite increase. Projected forward at that rate of increase ACT could govern alone. That statement is no sillier than the commentary the Herald has run on its poll. We are not trumpeting ACT’s spectacular rise because the margin for error in the poll is 3.5%. so ACT might already be on 3%.

That isn’t right. It is a common mistake.

The margin of error normally quoted in a poll is the maximum margin for a result of 50%. It is far less for smaller results such as 0.8%. In fact a 0.8% result for a poll of 1,000 has a margin of error of 0.6% so the 95% confidence range is 0.2% to 1.4%.

Evan at a 99.999999% confidence interval the margin of error for 0.8% is only 1.7%. There is no way at all ACT can be at 3%, just on sampling variation.

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The New Zealand Political Polling Code

March 25th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Research Association of New Zealand has announced:

A new Code has been released today that will guide the conduct and reporting of political surveys for this year’s General Election.

Research Association New Zealand has produced the NZ Political Polling Code to ensure fair and dependable political polls.  It has been designed in conjunction with researchers, politicians and media, and is binding on members.

The working group that oversaw the code has representatives on it from Colmar Brunton, Reid Research/Baseline, Digipoll, Ipsos, UMR and Curia. It has three sections to it:

  1. Conducting of political polls by researchers (binding)
  2. Reporting of political polls by researchers (binding)
  3. Publishing of political polls by media (advisory)

Polls that comply with the code will have the logo below on them, so people can quickly see if they are code compliant.


The best practice guidelines for media reporting are:

  1. If possible, get a copy of the full poll report and do not rely on a media release. 
  2. The story should include the name of the company which conducted the poll, and the client the poll was done for, and the dates it was done. 
  3. The story should include, or make available, the sample size, sampling method, population sampled, if the sample is weighted, the maximum margin of error and the level of undecided voters. 
  4. If you think any questions may have impacted the answers to the principal voting behaviour question, mention this in the story. 
  5. Avoid reporting breakdown results from very small samples as they are unreliable. 
  6. Try to focus on statistically significant changes, which may not just be from the last poll, but over a number of polls
  7. Avoid the phrase “This party is below the margin of error” as results for low polling parties have a smaller margin of error than for higher polling parties. 
  8. It can be useful to report on what the electoral results of a poll would be, in terms of likely parliamentary blocs, as the highest polling party will not necessarily be the Government. 
  9. In your online story, include a link to the full poll results provided by the polling company, or state when and where the report and methodology will be made available. 
  10. Only use the term “poll” for scientific polls done in accordance with market research industry approved guidelines, and use “survey” for self-selecting surveys such as text or website surveys.

The full code is below:

Political Polling Code 2014


Herald Digipoll on Brown

March 20th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Len Brown will find it tough to be re-elected Mayor of Auckland, according to a newHerald-DigiPoll survey.

Only 22.7 per cent of the people questioned in this month’s poll said they would vote for Mr Brown in the 2016 elections; 57.7 per cent said they would not. The other 20 per cent said they did not know or did not vote in local body elections.

Brown would be an idiot if he stands again. It is very difficult to see how he could be re-elected.

The poll suggests women and the elderly were particularly upset by revelations about his extramarital affair and undeclared hotel stays.

That women probably because of what they saw as a power imbalance, with the mistress being a much younger girl who was a Mayoral appointee.

However, Mr Brown can take some comfort from the survey, which found 51.6 per cent of respondents believed he could still be an effective advocate of Auckland’s interests for the remainder of this three-year term.

When asked if the mayor should have resigned last year after revelations of his misbehaviour, 50.2 per cent said yes and 37.7 per cent said no. A further 12.1 per cent did not know.

This is a reversal of the result of a Herald-DigiPoll survey taken a few days after the affair became public last October.

At the time, 51 per cent of Aucklanders said he should stay and 39.5 per cent said he should resign.

The details in the report about all the hotel stays, is probably why the mood has changed.

Lawyer and feminist commentator Catriona MacLennan said the poll result reflected that women do not believe that Mr Brown’s affair was a private matter and could see he used his powerful position to obtain sex from a young woman.

“Many New Zealand women have encountered this behaviour in their own working lives.

“I and other women wish there was greater condemnation and consequences for such behaviour so that it becomes less prevalent in future,” Ms MacLennan said.

While the affair was consensual, the fact Bevan was a Mayoral appointee and he helped get her a job while trying to start a relationship with her, means it was not a private matter.

The poll of 248 Auckland voters was taken between March 6 and March 16. Of those, only 31.3 per cent voted for Mr Brown last year.

248 is a very small sample size.  That’s a 6.2% margin of error. The breakdowns by gender and age are even bigger. The gender data would have a 8.8% margin of error and the age one could be as high as a 12.4% margin of error. So I wouldn’t put too much faith in them.

Also the fact that only 31% of the sample say they voted for Brown could be significant, as more than that actually did vote for him. However we don’t know if that 31% is of all Aucklanders or of Aucklanders who actually voted. Also asking people who they voted for last time doesn’t always get reliable data as people often claim they didn’t vote for someone who has since disgraced themselves, even if they did.

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