Misleading Poll Questions

I don’t personally support at large seats on the Auckland Council (mainly because they are impractical) but I also hate poll questions that are slanted, as two City Councils appear to have done.

Both Waitakere City Council and North Shore City Council comissioned a poll of local residents. They used Phoenix Research and Colmar Brunton respectively.  They both asked for agreement with this statement:

All of the councillors on the new Auckland Council should be elected by people in their local area (that is by Ward) rather than elected by people across the whole region (that is At Large)

First of all it is fascinating the question was identical in both cases. This suggests the clients dictated the question to the polling companies.

In each city 78% and 80% of respondents agreed with the statement.

But this is no surprise when you look at how it is worded. It appears to be giving people a choice between all Councillors elected by Wards and all Councillors elected at large.

It does not provide a clear option for what both the Royal Commission and the Government have proposed – that there be a mixture of wards seats and at large seats.

I absolutely guarantee you a question that asked a question providing three options of

  1. All from wards
  2. All from at large
  3. A mixture of wards and at large

would get a massively different response. And I mean massively different.

Personally I would not have allowed a question so faulty in one of my polls. It is an absolutely loaded question that doesn’t provide a useful answer. Of course the media reported it as gospel.

Now again I stress I do not personally support at large seats and hope the Government reduces them in number, or does without them. But they should make that decision based on good advocacy and research – not on the basis of such faulty poll questions.

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