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Saturday, 25 March 2017

Vamos a obtener estadisticas!

My normal weekend routine is a mundane mix of looking after children, doing household chores and gardening with some martial arts training thrown in for flavor but this weekend its wet and I am at a loose end so what better way to spend the time than pouring over the latest political polling data right, right?*

Ok so maybe not but the latest data has some rather juicy little nuggets buried within and after reading I think its worthy enough to post about it.

First up its the sources of that data and we have the latest polling from Roy Morgan (dated 17 March) and some slightly older data from Colmar Brunton (covering the period 11-15 February) to digest. Whats interesting is the Colmar Brunton data is pre-National's superannuation announcement and the Roy Morgan is post and while they are two different polls, so the results would not ever be identical, its still its interesting to have results from both before and after.

Party Popularity

The main party popularity from Colmar Brunton are as follows:

National at 46% (down 4%)
Labour at 30% (up 2%)
Greens at 11% (no change)
NZF at 11% (up 1%)
ACT at 1% (up 1%)
Maori at 1% (no change)

no other party had any significant polling.

The main results from Roy Morgan are:

National at 43.5% (Down 4.5%)
Labour at 29.5 (up 3.5%)
Greens at 14.5% (up 1.5%)
NZF at 7.5% (down 1.5%)
ACT at 0.5% (down 0.5%)
Maori at 2% (no change)

All the rest no significant polling.

Now the Colmar Brunton has about 1000 people polled with a +/- 3.1% margin or error while Roy Morgan polled 847 people and some fancy chart to explain things but in the end seems to come out at +/- 3.2% for the MoE and for those interested in my breakdown of NZ political poling see my old post from KP here.

My own take on these polls is that the Colmar Brunton is usually more conservative (if possibly pro National given its done on behalf of TV1) while the Roy Morgan is a bit more wild in its take (possibly due to its smaller sample size but also as its an offshore poll and not subject to the same constraints that NZ polls are (see my KP post for the details on that) and as such less accurate.

So like the nice people over at Kiwiblog who just take the Curia Public poll average and be done with it I tend to balance the results out a bit and instead of the raw numbers look for  the movements in the numbers themselves.

So what are these numbers telling us?

The most obvious is the clear and noted shift in both polls for National going down and Labour going up while the other parties have various ups, downs or no change.

Next is the fact that for the first time in a long time a Labour/Greens coalition is above National in the Roy Morgan poll (even if only by 1%) while closing on National in the Colmar poll but still out by 5%.

So as always that leaves us with the inevitable question who will New Zealand First support because in neither poll will ACT or the Maori party have enough seats to cover the deficit and as such Winston is back as kingmaker (as he has been for a long time).

So nothing really new there but the downward trend of National and the upward of Labour show that there is a shift going on.

Whats causing this I think are a combination of Labour having two good by-elections recently, the promotion of Jacinda Arden to deputy to Andrew Little in Labour (more on that in a moment) and English & Co dropping the ball by pissing off the public with a string of ham fisted media blunders (water, superannuation and Bill English's drug problem) and probably not going to be helped come next poll by the Hit and Run scandal.

But one of those afore mentioned juicy little poll nuggets is the 15% undecided on the Colmar Brunton poll (down 1% from previous) which as always leaves a rather large pool of potential voters out there who have not made up their mind but will wait to see which way the wind blows come election day.

Preferred Leader

Then its onto Colmar's preferred PM section which provides a rather interesting slice of not just who is being seen as PM material but who is also even registering on the public radar.

And the number for preferred PM are:

Bill "why are'nt you John Key" English at 31% (no previous recent polling)
Winston "lets make a deal" Peters at 8% (steady)
Andrew "see you in court" Little at 7% (down 1%)
Jacinda "no eyes on the leadership, honest" Arden at 4% (up 3%)
John "see you later suckers" Key at 2% (down 34%)
Metira "ho hum" Turei at 2% (up 1%)
Gareth "what me worry" Morgan at 0.1% (no change)
Helen "not eastern European" Clark at 0.3%
Dont know at 36% (up 2%)
None at 4% (up2%)

Now I took only what was interesting from a long list of names here but what stands out is the following:

Bill English is less popular than John Key just last month (36%) which is a terrible start and shows that the public mood for Bill is not what it was for John which is not exactly shocking but has now been tabulated for all to see.

What is shocking is how far John Key fell in short order (down to 2% from 36%) as it shows that without the media exposure that kept Key oxygenated it has rapidly faded from public consciousness (as I predicted he would).

And for those wondering how drastic this is its worth noting that the current poll includes Helen Clark still polling at 0.3% which is only 0.1% behind Judith Collins (on 0.4%) which shows just how strong the cult of Clark really is that even nine years after she left the office she can still register on the poll and only just behind a known aspirant for the throne (Collins) which shows just how unlikely it is that Judith Collins will ever get the job because no secret National leadership cabal in its smoky back room right mind will ever let such a low polling misanthrope anywhere near the throne.

Interesting but not surprising is seeing Jacinda Ardern move up to the number four spot from the ranks of the dispossessed where most other MPs live to be within striking distance of Andrew Little who must be starting to feel very very nervous at the moment as his popularity stats since he took the job have tracked steadily down from his high in 2015 (where he was on par with contemporaries like Goff, Shearer and Cunliffe) down into a space where he is now polling below Winston Peters.

Normally I would say make of this what you will but in these heady days I would say that this is just another nail in Little's coffin as the sound of blades being drawn across whetstones becomes just that bit more audible as that rift in the Labour party does not go away just because no one is talking about it and Arderns one win in Mt Rokslill was enough to oust Annette King (currently polling on 0.6% but previously 0.2%) and get her the number two spot.

So in this vein I fall back on my previous advice to the Labour party: roll Andrew Little now while you still have a chance!

But the mind blowing stat of them all on this chart is the 36% undecided which when added to the 4% none and 1% refused leaves a walloping 41% of the voting populcae who is not into the politics of personality or simply cant make up their minds on which mutant to pick.

And while the don't know number has generally been high across previous polls (27% to 34%) it has been steadily rising since September 2016 which may provide some clues to why John Key did decide to leave (if your not buying the "he was pushed" argument) as it shows Key gently trending downwards while the undecided goes up.

What rings out loud and clear from all these numbers is that the age of Key is over, no ifs or buts about it and Bill English has inherited a solid poll lead but its an established position (being popular as PM) and his previous polling (0.1, 0.9 and 0.4 from mid 2016) show that he was on nobodies radar for running the show should Key suddenly decide to throw in the towel or get rolled by an insider clique wanting to regain control of the party in what I would term a "right wing Jeremy Corbyn" coup.

Of course there is room to massage the stats all sorts of ways given that most personalities in NZ politics resonate with the public as about as much as or less than a cast member from Shortland Street but its telling what the current shifts show as its clear that the mood for anyone of the current crop is open to debate and most positions are as easy go as they are easy come (as Jacinda could soon find out once the honeymoon is over.

The Issues

So at this point the polls have given some info on the parties and the personalities but what about the issues?

Good question unmedicated voice in my head, I am glad you asked as both polls have brought their own take on the mood of the nation on what is hot and what is not.

Roy Morgan gives the goods on what direction the country seems to be moving in and confidence in government with numbers of 61% for the right direction and 25% for the wrong direction is close to a three year high so maybe the housing hernia is having some sort of perverse effect on the mood of the populace because the Colmar Brunton poll shows that the number one issue in this country at this time is the dear ol housing hernia at 27%; with education at 20% and the economy at 16% for the top three followed by health, the environment and immigration coming immediately after (at 15%, 9% and 9% respectively).

And Roy Morgans handy chart of the government confidence rating is also worth viewing as from the heady highs of 2008 to the slump of 2012 to the partial revival in 2015 to a recent jump overt the last few months (from what was a rather gloomy mood for most of 2015 and 2016) we can see that National have never recovered from the euphoria of things in 2008 when they won.

It is also worth noting, to be fair to National, that while they are down they have been consistently higher than Labour was when they took office (with govt confidence under Labour polling well below anything National has ever achieved).

Thus while correlation is not causation its is interesting to see those two stats sat side by side.

Also interesting is seeing education polling as the number two issue while the least important issues on voters minds are things like euthanasia, foreign investment and drugs all at 1% each while Maori issues, water quality, refugees, disasters and defense all polling in the "less than 1%" category which can also be known as the "who gives a s**t!" category.

But again what stands out is not what is an issue to people but how many people stated "don't know" or "other" on their polls which were 21% and 4% respectively meaning that 25% of the population has its mind somewhere else and I would really like to know where (any suggestions would be appreciated).

And if that were not enough Colmar Brunton poll drops its take on the issues when compared to voter blocks which provides an interesting slice of who is thinking about what, thus we learn:

- Housing issues resonate with middle aged Labour voters making over 100K a year
- Education resonates with middle aged pakeha women
- The economy resonates with male National supporters over 55
- young people aged between 18-34 (31%) don't know what the issues are

Be happy, be sad, be concerned, be confused by those numbers because that while people do have important issueson their minds at heart there is a very black gulf in those early and new voters, which like a lot of the other null stats that has been listed, shows that there is a solid core of the NZ public to which politics or any issue related to it does not resonate and where there are solid political cores of older voters who (like in the UK with Brexit) may end up dominating the issues and the election outcome.

So these are the stats and as a whole its shows, what I belive, are three things.

The first is the clear sign of third-termitis for National in government, which was cleverly hidden by John Key's dark arts but with him gone are now exposed like the scaly belly of a dragon.

The second is the definite potential for this election to have outcomes like the the US, the UK or elsewhere with big chunks of voter apathy, populist candidates rising and the near certain situation of a hung or paralyzed parliament if Winston does not kick his support in behind one vote block or another.

The last is that potential election issues are definitely coalescing around things like housing and education but there is still room for things like water issues (under the broader banner of the environment) to come in hard on the electorates consciousness or for things like the SAS/NZDF scandal to add some murk to the proceedings.

NZ politics in NZ has a curious dynamic in that the issues don't create the fire that can often be seen elsewhere but because kwi's are a passionless lot, we can let things slide for far too long before we wake up with the light of oncoming oblivion shining in our eyes (and its horn blaring in our ears) and only seconds to yank the wheel hard to the left to get back in the right lane.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I know I will.

*-Oh I will be having some drinks and getting my boogie on later tonight but I probably could make better use of the time today.


  1. So I'll ask again...

    Who would replace Andrew Little?
    What would they do differently?
    How would the public respond to that?

    Please note that Labour has changed its leader three times in the last six years, and it's never resulted in any significant boost in the polls. Why would it be any different this time?

  2. Hi Toby:

    You ask a fair question and your supplementary questions deserve a fair answer as well.

    So I was going to put all of that in a reply to you but it was getting rather long so instead your questions have got me thinking enough to make it into a post so I will put it up as such and respond to you there.

    So not only will you get a full answer (although you may or may not agree with it) but also thanks for inspiring me to write another post and waste more of my weekend, LOL.

    Post should be up tomorrow.

  3. By the time we [NZFirst ] have brought Immigration + Housing + Health + Co_Governance + Regional development to the fore front I expect the following at election
    NAT lose ChCH Central / Auck Central / Ohariu / all 3 to LAB.
    This will not change Proportionality.

    NAT 45% +- 4%
    LAB 27% +- 4%
    Green 13% +-3%
    NZ First 15% =-6%
    Rest 2%

    Result. We will have and use the stranglehold over NAT, which slackjaw knew we would and so he got out.
    NZ First leader will accomplish several policy objectives.
    My favourites : Roll back Waitangi gravy train // Refusal of cow towing to unelected European Maori Chieftans // Rescind most of the RLA garbage // Make English look like the follow on slackjaw sop he is.// End the Geoff Palmer traitor attempts at Constitutional racism.
    2017 is a great year