Brian Edwards Media

John Key on 41%, David Shearer on 10%. That can’t be right. Can it?

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There’s been debate about the latest TV3 Reid Research poll. The poll, which was taken between February 12 and February 21, has National on 51.4%, Labour on 32.6% and the Greens on 11%. No other party reaches the 5% threshold.

In the ‘Preferred Prime Minister’ stakes John Key is on 41% with David Shearer on 10%.

Where the parties are concerned, the poll is out of step with recent TV1, Fairfax, Herald and Roy Morgan polls by between 2% and 7%. Commentators have also pointed out that in the last election all the major polls overstated National’s support by between 3% and 7%.

Given Labour’s and Phil Goff’s woeful results in that election, one might think it barely mattered.

But when you take into account the current level of unemployment, the Government’s abysmal handling of the Christchurch school amalgamations and closures, the Novopay debacle and the Prime Minister’s complicity in the shonkiest political deal I can remember since I’ve been in this country, National’s and its leader’s high ratings do seem somewhat strange.

But in one sense, the accuracy or lack of accuracy of the polls really is irrelevant. This is because the pollsters are objectively proved right or wrong only once every three years: after the election, when it’s too late for their influence on the outcome to be undone.  

In an earlier post I argued that political polls tend to be self-fulfilling on the basis that people are reluctant to vote for a persistently low-polling party or leader. Our natural instinct is to back winners. The high-rating leader is also able to bask in the warm glow of his poll success while his low-rating opponent has to engage in an unconvincing dismissal of the poll result and an equally unconvincing defence of his and his party’s performance that presumably led to it.

TV3’s latest Reid Research poll may not be accurate. Labour may not have only 32.6 percent support or the Greens only 11%. National may not be within cooee of 51.4%. But for the moment, and until the next moment, that’s where the parties stand. National supporters will take heart; Labour and Green supporters will endure a small chip in their confidence.

But it’s in the Preferred Prime Minister stakes that the effect is most dramatic. According to this poll, John Key on 41% has a massive 31% lead over David Shearer on 10%. The Labour leader is back where his predecessor was just before the election – only worse. And yes, I know, it can’t be right, it isn’t fair, and the only poll that matters is the poll on election day. But it’s a really bad look and the very last thing that Shearer needs as he announces his new front bench line-up.

And here’s the main point: Shearer’s future will be determined by the polls. If he lingers too long under 15% the uneasy peace which he has quite skilfully negotiated between the Labour Caucus factions will become increasingly fragile. The knives will be out. He might well have been better during today’s reshuffle to take the Clark approach and bring Cunliffe, who has after all publicly declared his loyalty, back into the tent, if only close to the flap.

And then there’s the likeable and engaging Grant Robertson – young, ambitious and only one step away from the glittering prize. As he pondered the results of this latest TV3 Reid Research poll, what thoughts might fleetingly have traversed his consciousness?

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  1. The poll shows that most people with landlines like National.

  2. “….I argued that political polls tend to be self-fulfilling….” and highly valid is that argument, Sir! The Herald “reports” that rents are going up – and every landlord climbs aboard the gravy train and rents go up toute suite!

    I think it’s simply that Key has the X factor, and Shearer has not. Key is the Marc Ellis of politics: always camera-ready, up for a chat, bob-and-weave a bit and have a go, a bit of a laugh, a totally down-to-earth, personable ‘bloke next door’. Winston Peters scores 4/10 on the same card – mostly on his bob-and-weave – but Shearer is NONE of those things, and for me, that’s the killer gap; magnetism, not magic.

    This allows the PM some slack. I think most people consider that Key inherited the Novopay problem and that it has nothing to do with him on a personal level – it’s the party that has to sort it. I don’t expect Christopher Luxon has much to do with the problem of a 777 being grounded with low fuel pressure.

    And I bet the general populance (away from this blog) think the Christchurch schools mess wasn’t good but the government realised they got it wrong so they had a go at a compromise; and that they also think that while the conference centre deal was a bit slippery Key got us a flash new facility for nothing, paid for by gamblers who’ll (sadly) find some way of losing their cash anyway.

    • The social and human cost of 300 more pokies will be huge. That’s what Key has swapped for his convention centre. The extra pokies will repay Sky City its Convention Centre investment in no time.

      • I’m no gambler and I’ve only been to the casino twice totalling about 40 minutes, just sticky-beaking, but I didn’t see a queue for the pokies. For me it seems unbelieveable that doubling the number of pokies in any casino will double the number of gamblers; more cars in car yards doesn’t mean more drivers. But I bow to the superior knowledge of yourself and others.

        • Agreed, i can’t see the relationship between a few more pokies and the supposed explosion of problem gamblers.
          Surely problem gamblers are already out there, they’re not waiting for the introduction of 300 pokies before coming out of the closet.
          More nonsense from the left.

          • Nonsense? Then why is Sky City so determined to get 300 more pokies (it was originally 500), if there are already enough around to satisfy the demand? I’m making a wild guess that another 300 pokies – by far the most addictive form of gambling – will compensate them financially for the money they’re losing on the roulette tables and other more exotic forms of gambling. You really need to be careful about dismissing as nonsense other people’s opinions when your own are so uninformed. Pokies are the most accessible form of gambling, as well as the most addictive, and the social cost of having them is absolutely huge.

            • If they just compensate for other losses they won’t pay for the Convention Centre. Bad logic.


                Equally bad logic criticising a PM who is prepared to REDUCE the total number of pokie machines in the Auckland community, while gaining a benefit to the public by allowing a concentration of machines where they properly belong, and are harder to access by the low-income, who can otherwise wander along to their local pub.

                Why is Sky City prepared to pay for 300 more machines?

                Because, like the breweries and the tobacco companies they are competing with others for a share of the existing market, not necessarily expanding it.

                I’ll refrain from calling your views, “nonsense”, “uninformed”, or “claptrap”, Brian. You draw offence when others question your motives, and in this case I have no doubt your criticism of Key is sincerely motivated, whereas others would accuse you of partisan bias. I’ve given you that courtesy. But the price I’ll exact for taking you at face value is the right to proffer a piece of friendly advice in response to your precious presumption to dispense wisdom, “You really need to be careful about…”:

                If you are going to come out swinging with a steel fist, it pays not to do so while wearing a glass jaw.


                  Gosh, Kimbo, don’t want to answer for BE, but it seems since you have a PHD in cliches, platitudes and sarcasm, do please tell us from what school of learning was that again?

                  Be specific please!

            • Is the casino losing money on any form of gambling, Brian? Out of character, surely? If the roulette tables really lose the casino money wouldn’t they just dump them, or are they a loss leader where the winning punters then lose their shirts on pokies on the way out?

    • perfect response !

  3. Cunliffe sooner or later. Sooner better than later.

  4. God bless the silent majority! They always show the noisy what the real world thinks.

  5. Let this bunch of two-faced moronic liars tell us again why the taxpayer should own Solid Energy. I’m dying to know.

  6. That TV 3 poll equates to National gaining approx 100,000 new supporters since the last election and Keys fan club all have double identities. Yes righty ho-hum.

    Alan, I agree, since National have let Solid Energy go to the wall I would imagine no one would want to own it. Its time the SOE model was dispensed with. Either we flog them all off or they go back to being fully state run departments.

    Let the pollsters decide eh!?

    • “I agree, since National have let Solid Energy go to the wall”

      Ah, Kat – those evil Tories again, manipulating the price of international coal so they can throw hundreds out of work, simply to savour the taste of their tears…

      Or maybe, the majority of Kiwis are economically and politically sophisticated and intelligent enough to work out that the class warfare the Greens and Labour are peddling is a load of bunkum, and we have a good captain at the helm (despite a few incompetent mates like Parata) who is having to negotiate the small and insignificant vessel that is the NZ ship of state in the roughest seas in 80 years.”John Key on 41%, David Shearer on 10%. That can’t be right. Can it?”. Oh yes it can!

      “…and the Prime Minister’s complicity in the shonkiest political deal I can remember since I’ve been in this country,”. Brian, surely you jest? After the Owen Glenngate, paintergate, and speedgate, most Kiwis are all tapped out on the scandalgate technique that the loathsome Trevor Mallard bequeathed to NZ politics (with Helen Clark’s passive aggressive compliance) some 17 years ago. For a more realistic assessment of the Sky City pokies deal, refer to the following: –

      • Kimbo,
        John Roughan’s piece had some alarming assumptions eg “Convention centres and casinos sit naturally together everywhere ” and “(Sky City is) a sponsor of much of the city’s life.”
        Convenient opinions to be sure but do we want Mayor Browns most liveable city to be funded on the back of hard core gambling?

        And proposing that 41% of kiwis support John Key equates to the “majority of Kiwis are economically and politically sophisticated and intelligent” is just plain silly.
        41% is not a majority. John Key has a sophisticated and intelligent PR machine , no doubt, but that doesn’t make him a good leader in the bigger sense.

        As Brian points out its the absence of a viable political alternative that’s the problem.

        • “…do we want Mayor Browns most liveable city to be funded on the back of hard core gambling?”

          Judging by the money that goes through Sky City, and the permission granted in the 1990s to allow the onstruction of the Sky Tower, an iconic and city-defining piece of architecture, and answer would appear to be…yes.

          Don’t blame me. I don’t make the rules. I just report them.

          “41% is not a majority. John Key has a sophisticated and intelligent PR machine , no doubt, but that doesn’t make him a good leader in the bigger sense.

          As Brian points out its the absence of a viable political alternative that’s the problem”.

          Sorry, is this another variation on “John Key doesn’t have a mandate”?

          • I don’t blame you Kimbo at all, and of course you don’t make the rules but who does?
            I used the word We in the bigger collective sense of Aucklanders. Yes the Casino got build, permissions were granted etc but that doesn’t mean it was right or that the majority of Auckanders wanted it.

            Its done, its there like or hate it. Now the Casino owners want a bigger slice, more pokies , ownership of a convention center. Do we want it to go that far without questioning the need, who allowed it and the process by which it got to this point. There were other serious contenders for the conference center who didn’t need gambling money to fund it.

            I am not anti gambling but I think it needs boundaries.

          • Keys mandate is a one seat majority. John Banks. Enough said eh!?

            • “Enough said eh!?”

              Not by half: “Roll on 2014!”

              Just out of interest, Kat, if Shearer/Robertson/Cunliffe (fill in the blank) cobbles together a 61-59 coalition with the hydra head of the Greens, NZ First, Hone, and at a squeeze Peter Dunne, and they pitch up to the GG to take the oath of office at Government House some 10 days after the election, will that still constitute a mandate?

              Or does asking the question make me a know-it-all?

      • You really have got to be joking or at least come up with some better examples of scandals than the ones you mention here. No, these weren’t the best moments in HC’s career, but do they really equate to letting the social parasites who own and run casinos destroy more lives than they do already in return for gifting a convention centre to Auckland? There really ought to be some vestige of equivalence between situations who choose to compare, not this claptrap.

        • “do they really equate to letting the social parasites who own and run casinos destroy more lives than they do already”

          The decision on casinos was made in the mid-1990s. I note the PM you helped groom for office didn’t take up the opportunity to banish the “parasites” from our fair land. Indeed, compared to her well-merited crusade against smoking, the status quo pretty much remained in effect from 1999 to 2008. And Labour rightly taxed the proceeds of sin and social decay to fund stuff like interest-free student loans, and WFF.

          And Key is making a similar pragmatic decision that while gambling is probably a worthless scourge in the lives of many, there are insufficient numbers to successfully abolish it, so we may as well make the best of the situation.

          Trust that provides some vestige of equivalence for you to cast your scornful gaze over. Either way, until such time as you put your money where your mouth is and campaign and provide services to a political party that is willing to take the wrecking ball to the casino, I suggest you have a look in the mirror to assess who is writing claptrap.


            You are wrong Kimbo. The status quo regarding gambling machines did not remain pretty much the same between 1999 and 2008. In fact there was a hard fought and ultimately successful campaign within the Labour Alliance coalition led by the latter and spearheaded in this instance by then Minister Phillida Bunkle to ring fence and reduce the numbers of pokies in this country. It was the outcome of this which has led to the steady decline in pokies since (and which John Key is trying to palm off as his own achievement).

            • …I had a feeling soemone might try and argue this.

              We disagree. Maintaining the status quo was allowing pokies to remain in significant numbers, readily available within the community. From 1999-2008 they did, no matter what “ring fencing” or “reductions” took place.

              A significant change to the status quo would have been banning them outright, i.e., prohibition on pokies, which was the case in this country until approximately 20 years ago.

        • Considering the public own and run via employees a lottery and TAB are we all social parasites? Along with the breweries, the wine industry, the mountain clubs, aero clubs and everyone else whose customers have a minority that get into trouble?

          • Bad luck, Alan. You’ve got the otherwise well-reasoned Dr Edwards on his soap box, motivated by his genuine displeasure at the weak being exploited.

            So the answer is, “it just is!”.

            Good luck on casting out the parasites, Brian. Help get a PM elected who is prepared to smash Sky City to the ground, and I’ll lend my sledge hammer for free.

            Until then, like the (probably necessary and pragmatically correct) decision to legalise prostitution (which also happened on Clark’s watch – enough “equivalence” for you?), I suggest you learn to leaven your moral fervour with some pragmatic wisdom. You will be happier, and seeing as we are all likely unable to change much about the Casino situation either way, the result will be the same whether you are indifferent or angry.

            • “while gambling is probably a worthless scourge in the lives of many, there are insufficient numbers to successfully abolish it, so we may as well make the best of the situation”

              That nicely summarizes Key’s light weight principles.
              Oh it probably wrong but they are not marching in the streets yet and oh happy day we can make some money out it .Just do it.

              BTW Your rather personalised attacks on Brian detract from the argument you are trying to put up. For me personalised attacks generally signal a weak argument

              Which it a pity because I would really like to hear the argument for expanding the casino .


                I thought the good doctor is the only one who has initiated a personal attack. When anyone thrusts their morality forward as a non-negotiable in public discussion, then scrutiny of the consistency of their own beliefs and actions is almost inevitable.

                Also my question of his support for any political party campaigning for a prohibition on gambling, and my willingness to lend a sledge hammer to the destruction of Sky City if it ever happens are genuine. Personally, I loathe the place, and would lose no sleep if it crumbled to the ground tomorrow. However, it seems to me that unless both you or BE are prepared to work for full prohibition (with the inevitable growth in crime that will entail), then your moral outrage smacks of those who consider tehmselves more righteous than otehrs because they only want to be half-pregnant.

                No, there is nothing wrong with, “questioning the need, who allowed it and the process by which it got to this point”. However, judging by your comments, I doubt very much you are a mind to “hear” the argument for expanding the casino. I stated it, as has Key, and you’ve dismissed it as “probably wrong”, and “light weight principles” – with not much interaction of substance beyond emotive moral outrage – IMHO (but don’t worry, I’m not flinging around the ‘claptrap’ epithet that BE first injected into the discussion :).

                Personally, I think Key is right and consistent, and making the best of an ultimately bad situation that was not of his making…unlike yourself, who on the one hand seems to want a zero tolerance prohibition on gambling (“…convenient opinions to be sure but do we want (our) city to be funded on the back of hard core gambling?”), and on the other rationalising and making your own accommodations with the devil (“I am not anti gambling but I think it needs boundaries”).

                Please note Richard, there are still boundaries with the convention centre deal. The issue is – are those boundaries flexible and negotiable in the light of other benefits that can be extracted from the socially-damaging, yet almost unavoidable reality of legalised gambling?

                If they not then, yes, Key is “probably wrong” and displaying “light weight principles”. But I’m not convinced that is the case by anything you or BE has offered thus far. Maybe I too am not of a mind to “hear”.

                Either way, and if you’ll excuse the pun, ya pays yer money, and ya takes yer pick. And tying it back to the musings that kicked off our discussion -“But when you take into account the…Prime Minister’s complicity in the shonkiest political deal I can remember since I’ve been in this country, National’s and its leader’s high ratings do seem somewhat strange…”- on the contrary, it is not strange at all. The the majority/41%/whatever term you want to quibble over who gave Key such a favourable rating agree with him.

                And yet again, I don’t make the rules – I just report them.


                And having shopped around, John Minto offered a reasonable argument: –


                “Key’s argument is that New Zealand’s pokie numbers have been slowly dropping in recent years through “sinking lid” policies adopted by many local councils whereby if a venue closes the pokie machines cannot be relocated elsewhere.

                According to the Prime Minister a sinking lid in the community justifies lifting the lid for SkyCity. Yeah right.

                It’s deliberately dishonest reasoning like this which politicians use to justify deals for their corporate friends which they know the community doesn’t want.

                It’s a particularly nasty insult because local community groups have worked hard to reduce pokie numbers and the destructive impact these designed-to-addict machines have on families, extended families and whole communities”.

    • The idiocy, or in most cases blatant, grotesque dishonesty, of campaigning that no Government assets should ever be sold is starkly exposed in the case of Solid Energy.

      Commercial risk should be carried and managed by the private sector. Solid Energy should have been sold last term along with all the other energy companies. The Government should then have busied itself ensuring proper competition reduced consumer prices rather than reaping the benefits of inflated profits while encouraging or at least tolerating rash investments in “alternative” energies.

      The opposition parties that prevented that happening should be ashamed of themselves.

  7. Annette King for PM!

    • Now that is a very good idea. Labour would be in considerably better shape than it is now, if Annette had been willing to thrown her hat in the ring. A great pity in my view.

  8. The convention centre is an interesting one. I find myself torn although my wife thinks I am an unprincipled scumbag for that.

    We are both social conservatives and therefore should both oppose gambling in any form for the damage it does. But when JK tells me the general direction is to reduce the number of pokies in total across the nation (and the evidence seems to be that is occurring – primarily in the club scene) then to reduce a little more slowly than would otherwise be the case and get a convention as a collateral benefit does have some appeal.

  9. Add in a few % for Winston, and a couple of 1%’s here and there to Key’s 41% and Shearer’s 10% and the maths tells me that at least 40% of New Zealand would prefer someone else – who could that be? The pollsters don’t seem to say (or know). Hardly a ringing endorsement for Key though.

    • Sadly that’s true. I can’t think of any democratic election anywhere, ever, won by one party getting the majority of all votes, apart from those elections held by Robert Mugabe and Saddam Hussein. Now THERE’re two guys who could really sell their messages.

      One problem with MMP is that if Shearer were to get enough votes to govern, he’d be propped up with a rag-tag bunch of also rans made up of a few disenchanted Maori, the God-botherers, high-rent Winston, the tree-huggers et al, all demanding (and getting) a slice of the boardroom, so that we end up with a non-National version of mob-rule, with people in power not because they’re going to be any use to New Zealand, but because their tie isn’t blue….

      • You appear to have forgotten about FPP.

        • Yes FPP gave us the chance to elect our next dictator and I wonder if that was a better system than the chaos we seem to get every third year under the present system. For all its manifest faults, at least FPP gave one the opportunity to loathe the incumbent for 3 years without wondering if it’s really one of his (or her) sidekicks who is driving us all to financial ruin.

      • Actually Zinc, I read this particular blog to be commenting on who the voters would have as their preferred Prime Minister. It has little to nothing to do with MMP and the voting system, or indeed the Party popularity. There was another poll that addressed your issue with FPP/MMP – I think your comment in this instance is misplaced.

        • Yes, of course we’re way off topic now: I can’t see many posts at all, explaining JK’s apparent runaway popularity.

      • @ Zinc: “I can’t think of any democratic election anywhere, ever, won by one party getting the majority of all votes…”

        I can think of a few Kiwi ones for a start…

        1890 Liberal 56%

        1931 National Coalition 55%

        1938 Labour 56%

        1946 Labour 51%

        1949 National 52%

        1951 National 54%

        Which is, no doubt, what BE was alluding to.

    • Yes Logie97. It would be interesting to know where the other votes went beyond the 40%.
      And are the undecided listed in the poll? Supposing 10 – 15% of those questioned were undecided. How strong would Key’s support be?
      How many people know who Mr Shearer is? Many people are just too busy living to take much notice – yet.

  10. It is all very well bleating on about the inadequacies of the present government and the injustices being suffered by New Zealanders, but the Labour Party and Shearer have so far failed to give any convincing reasons as to why they would be a credible alternative.

    The Sky City affair may well be deplorable but for most voters it does not have the same impact as their power (which sky rocketed under a Labour government) and food bills. I suspect that some voters may also recall some of the less savoury aspects of the last Labour Government and take the cynical view that all governments are to some extent corrupt.

    I heard Annette King wittering on this morning about a climate of fear in the health service. Apart from those who work in the health service I doubt whether anyone gives a toss. It is more important that one gets treated quickly and safely. She might be better to focus on the under publicised activities of the National Health Committee which is looking to make large cuts in elective surgery including grommets which will have an impact on the most vulnerable families in NZ.

    Shearer and co need to conect with ordinary people and understand the problems they face in their everyday lives under this government. None of them convince me that they have a clue what it is like to live at the bottom of the heap. In fact the only politician who does have some understanding in Honeweira.

    So until Shearer can convince people that the Labour Party would make a difference to their lives the gap in the polls will remain.

    Fianlly look at the two photos at the top – laughing boy and po face. Perhaps Mr Shearer suffers from the Mark Lundy effect; possibly the ‘jury’ just does not like the look of him.

    • To be absolutely fair, I chose the photos to illustrate how each leader must be feeling after the latest poll. I could have found unsmiling photos of John Key and smiling photos of David Shearer.

  11. Hi – This theory is worth checking out. Source Wikipedia:

    “The spiral of silence is a political science and mass communication theory propounded by the German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann. Spiral of silence theory describes the process by which one opinion becomes dominant as those who perceive their opinion to be in the minority do not speak up because they fear isolation from society.

    Further, Noelle-Neumann describes the spiral of silence as a dynamic process, in which predictions about public opinion become fact as mass media’s coverage of the majority opinion becomes the status quo, and the minority becomes less likely to speak out.[4] The theory, however, only applies to moral or opinion issues, not issues that can be proven right or wrong using facts (if there, in fact, exists a distinction between fact and value).”

    • Verry interesting! (Spoken in sinister German accent) No, actually, it is very interesting and seems to support my view of the polls.

      • There is an argument that one of the reasons for the low voter turnout at the last election was because people had been convinced by the polls that the opposition didn’t stand a chance of beating National so didn’t bother to vote.

        However, that doesn’t factor in the “boy racer effect” – ie if there has been an exponential increase in the number of boy racers over the three years since the previous election the number of voters will be lower as boy racers are notoriously apolitical. Until regular statistics are collected on the number of boy racers in New Zealand, it will be impossible to know what part they are playing in swings in voter turnout.

    • “Spiral of silence theory describes the process by which one opinion becomes dominant as those who perceive their opinion to be in the minority do not speak up because they fear isolation from society.”

      Hmmm. Seems like the Mana Party hasn’t been heard of Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann.

  12. @Kimbo,

    The international price of coal is only one factor, and manageable at that. The real issue here is your man Key publicly backed Solid Energy getting into Lignite mining and other investments, supporting the direction the board was taking the SOE. Now he wants to wash his hands of it and blame Mallard for something he said back in 2007!

    Your comments have similar validity as the TV 3 poll. Especially this nonsense about ‘class warfare’ you keep banging on about.

    • Well said Kat.

    • The blog starts off as a discussion into why Shearer is trailing Key and becomes a debate about the rights and wrongs of Solid Energy.

      This illustrates the problem of Labour. Solid Energy is an issue peripheral to most people’s lives and rightly or wrongly most will blame incompetent management at SE rather than any fault of the government.

      I wish the Labour Party and its supporters would devote more energy (no pun intended) into issues that have an impact on people’s lives.

    • I heard Key get asked that today in parliament and he whaffled and then said it was all Mallards fault, whereas i read the piece in the southland times where Key did say that.
      Its this BS that makes me really furious. Key cost us over three hundred million and all he does is stand up and play word games. Times like this i can see how anarchy comes about

    • “The international price of coal is only one factor, and manageable at that.”

      Manageable? Really? OK. Please, Kat, why don’t you enlighten us how a business selling a single commodity copes with a 40% drop in prices?

      I’ve got my note book out, waiting to learn from your vast experience running a business. I’m sure John Key, David Shearer and the rest of the country would benefit from your wisdom.

      Specifics, please. Over to you…

  13. It also may be an indication of the ignorance of those chosen few who submit their opinions to the poll.
    In public Key seems to be like a cork bobbing around in the sea, going wherever the wind blows.

  14. From what I can tell, polls don’t take into account how many people live in the household which means some people have a greater chance of being in the survey than others.

    Say you have two houses, one with 1 adults and the other with 5 adults. If you take one person from the first household than that person has 100% chance of being in the survey, if you take one person from the second household than there is only 20% chance that any person in the household will be in the survey. So it means that if there are differences in opinion between small and large households then the small households will get their opinion heard more. And it does kinda matter in NZ – more adults tend to live in Pacific and Maori households.

    There are other important issues as well but that I think that is the majour one.

  15. And what was Helen Clark’s preferred PM polling 13 months after becoming Labour leader? And what was the result she delivered at the 1996 general election? Can you remember, Brian?

    • I don’t know what Helen’s PPM figure was in January 1995 which is 13 months after she became Leader of the Opposition on 1 December 1993. But I can tell you that by June 1996 her position was even worse. She was on 3% in the PPM polls and Labour was on 14%. I know this because it was then that Judy and I became her media advisers. She had just fended off an attempt by Phil Goff, Michael Cullen and others to persuade her to step down. Five months later she just about pulled off the election and would have done so had it not been for the treachery of Winston Peters who, despite earlier assurances, opted to go with National. I don’t think Shearer can afford to wait until 5 months before the next election to get it right. He’s no Helen Clark.

  16. “In the ‘Preferred Prime Minister’ stakes John Key is on 41% with David Shearer on 10%.” After watching John Key being interviewed by Rachel Smalley on Firstline this morning, I noted that Key was in superb form. If Shearer wants to improve upon the 10% rating, he needs to front-up when National has dropped the ball. At the moment National PR people are having it their own way. John Key’s 8 1/2 plus minutes with Smalley was electioneering at it’s best.

  17. A few pertinent facts to chew on:

    The average “refusal rate” (“piss off I’m having tea)for political pollsters is around 80%, rising to 95% in prolonged periods of fine weather.

    89% of New Zealanders regard politics and politicians as slightly less attractive and interesting than putrefying camel afterbirth.

    93% of New Zealanders gain their entire political news and information from the headlines and ten-second soundbites they are too slow to avoid and ignore.

    “Prefer” does not mean “Like”.

    47% of New Zealanders prefer right-wing blog commenters to caustic soda enemas (53% Undecided).

  18. Danyl McLauglan on Dim Post has summed it up: “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.”

    Labour need to sort themselves out!

  19. Heres a novel reason as to why JK is a popular fellow, most of his supporters are presently better off!
    I see some interesting similarities with the Tony Bliar “nu labour” government here, lots of spin, not a lot of substance and of course the politics of personality over policy.
    It’s going to end in tears i.e house price bubble, over inflated currency and cheap (historically) credit.

  20. I think it is an indictment of us as an electorate that we are even having this conversation. As in the courtroom situation, the attractiveness of the candidate or defendant should be secondary. The only thing that should count is content. Yes, credibility, appearance, debating skills, etc are important but shouldn’t be paramount.
    Looking at Shearer on TV this morning reminded me of that uncouth jibe of ‘the spare prick at the wedding’. He smiles, his lantern jaw drops open and he looks awkward and uncomfortable, which then makes me feel uncomfortable. So what. He’s not telegenic like Key but he may yet make a good politician. Give him a break Labour.

  21. I think the logic of Mr Key’s decision making went like this.
    1 We want a proper big convention centre in Auckland.
    2. We can’t afford it.
    3 If we raise the money ourselves our opponents will want to spend it on schools and hospitals and National Parks and things.
    4. We’ll need to get the builder to pay for it.
    5. What can we do to get some institution to put up its own money to build what WE want?
    6. Of course! We’ll let them build what they want as well.

    Whether or not you like the costs implied in extra pokies, bear in mind that the bigger Casino will only work if there are customers in town for the convention staying at or near the convention centre and looking for a little frivolity after a hard day at their version of the coal face.
    Without those extra faces the extensions would have a very poor business case at the pokie level, and no case at all at the food/drinks/beds level.

    Besides, my wife likes John Key so there


    James McGehan

  22. In fact, there’s some rather spiffing news, from a centre-left perspective: Key’s on a long-term declining trajectory in the Preferred PM stakes: Almost entirely in the 50s in TV3 Reid Polls between early 2009 and late 2011 (49%-56%), then an abrupt drop between late 2011 and early 2012 (delayed reaction to Teacup saga ?), with Key falling to 44% and he’s been drifting in the late 30s/early 40s ever since. Very much a man on skid row. You mark my words, within a year or two he’ll be sleeping rough on the streets of central Auckland, tossing and turning at night between refuse-bins, drunk, vagrant and comotose Manchester United supporters and semi-liquid dog faeces.

    @ Ianmac “It would be interesting to know where the other votes went beyond the 40%…And are the undecided listed in the poll ?”
    TV3 Reid Poll February 2013
    Preferred PM: Key 41, Shearer 10, Peters 5, Norman 2 (= 58)

    My understanding is that all Preferred PM polls (with the conspicuous exception of the Herald-Digi) include Don’t Knows/None-of-the-Aboves in their results. So, most of the remaining 42% will be DKs/N-o-t-As. (although I suspect a small percentage went to other candidates like Turia , Sharples, Dunne and so on. A rough guess would be 4% to other contenders / 38% DK).

  23. You’re fogetting the “X Factor”: Key done got it, Shearer don’t got it. If Key’s on the slippery slope and the only alternative is Shearer, God help us all. It’ll be like voting for either AIDS or cancer.

    • Shearer’s already little more than an inebriated vagrant in a LAPD mugshot, with a slightly wild and desperate look in his eyes.

  24. I’ll just add that BE’s argument (polls are self-fulfilling/natural for people to back winners/voters rally to apparent majority opinion) is usually called the ‘bandwagon’ thesis in political science. It’s just one of a number of rival theories on the influence of opinion polls. The polar opposite is the ‘underdog’ effect. There’s also, of course, the argument that poll results can encourage strategic voting.

    • Thanks, Markus

      As always, your knowledge of the intricacies of political science adds depth to the discussion.

      Here’s what I reckon and can recall – unless something horrendous is happening, or there is an unexpected ‘cult of personality’ (i.e., Winston Peter is the early ’90s), the incumbent PM is almost always the preferred PM. All the media coverage, etc., is part of the reason I think the USA decided a President can only have two terms in office after FDR passed away during his 4th term.

      Then, because we elect parties, and not not PMs/Presidents, when a new PM takes over, he/she invariably goes to the top of the preferred choices. So really, preferred PM is just a tertiary poll (secondary is preferred party, and primary as BE has said is the real one that takes place every three years).

      Nevertheless it is amusing to observe the rationalisations of those who dislike or despise Key, and don’t seem to want to admit the obvious: A significantly large group of Kiwis like him, and trust him to do the job compared to his predecessors.

      • “A significantly large group of Kiwis like him, and trust him to do the job compared to his predecessors”

        Kimbo, please enlighten us to exactly who this ‘large group of Kiwis’ are, demographic specifics please, no bogus media polls, aka TV3.

        • @ Kat, I’m a Lefty from way back but I think Kimbo makes a fair argument here.

          It’s pointless – in fact, arguably counter-productive – for the Left to deny Key’s popularity (my comment on skid row was, of course, heavily tongue-in-cheek, bordering on outright wish-fulfillment).

          Having said that, it’s important to stress that only a minority of voters now choose Key as their preferred PM (around 40%) (all recent polls that include the Don’t Knows place Key in late 30s-to-early 40s territory). So, while Key is still streets ahead of Shearer (and everybody else), the fact is he’s only a minority taste. It wasn’t that long ago he was averaging 55%, about the same as Clark in her heyday.

          The other interesting facet: Key is now less popular than the National Party. Go back before late 2011 and Key’s preferred PM support was either level with or outstripping the Nat’s party-vote support in opinion polls. Two years ago, he was, on average, 2 points more popular than the Nats, now he’s averaging about 8 points less popular.

          @ Kimbo: “…the incumbent PM is almost always the preferred PM.”

          Usually, though not always. Key began to rival Clark as preferred PM in May 2007, about 6 months into the job. They see-sawed back and forth for a year but, from April 2008, he was generally ahead (with only occassional exceptions).

          Muldoon, incidently, remained far more popular after his 1984 defeat than most historians/political scientists would have us believe (not only did he always eclipse new Leader Jim McLay’s rating, but, from memory, he also remained ahead of Bolger for at least a year into the latter’s leadership). There’s an enormous amount of bullshit from dear old self-mythologising Baby-Boomer writers about Muldoon being yesterday’s man from 1981. And, in fact, although Lange got a preferred PM bounce on becoming Opposition Leader in early 1983, Muldoon quickly recaptured frontrunner status as the electorate started having a few doubts about the former’s seeming lack of substance (in a non-physical sense, you understand).

          I spent the first 6 months of 1983 in the UK (did the 7th form by correspondence while there) and I was amused when the British media started pronouncing his name “Lounge” – “Mr Lounge.” He was making his first official visit to the UK as Opposition Leader and journalists were obviously deeply impressed by his size.

          • Yes, good comment on Muldoon, who, like Key (I would suggest, although you probably have the appropriate data to hand to confirm or disabuse) had a knack of enticing natural Labour voters into his fold (the famed Rob’s Mob).

            Which was also why Muldoon (like Key) was especially loathed and misunderstood, and poorly rebutted (arguably also like Key) by Labour Party members and supporters who stayed true. Honestly, you hear people twitter on about the Muldoon years, and it’s like it was the Long Night of the Knives, and constant darkness and anti-democratic forces stalked the land (no doubt Kat will chime in with the “Dancing Cossacks” as she has on other threads elsewhere).

            What was Muldoon’s appeal to Labour voters who left the fold to join him? “New Zealand the way you want it” – not what they perceived academics and “foreign experts”, and manipulative protest groups were trying to foist on them.

            The same with Key. Labour/Green/Left supporters, you might not like Key, nor agree with him, but a significant (and no, I can’t be bothered quibbling over defining the term – argue it with BE who posted this thread!) group of Kiwis are buying in to his “aspirational” message.

            I don’t make the rules. I just report them.

        • “Kimbo, please enlighten us to exactly who this ‘large group of Kiwis’ are, demographic specifics please, no bogus media polls, aka TV3″.

          You obviously aren’t very attentive, or else you wouldn’t have missed the title of this post:

          “John Key on 41%, David Shearer on 10%. That can’t be right. Can it?”

          It’s ok, Kat. As Markus’ nuanced and intelligent reply implies, even if don’t like Key, nor his politics, it isn’t a betrayal of your personal principles if you acknowledge his popularity.

          Or at least it isn’t in the circles I inhabit. Maybe it is different with you and your tribe…

  25. So, another poll has come out since this this particular blog was started several days ago. This is the Roy Morgan poll, which, broadly speaking mirrors the TV3 poll from last weekend. It points to bit of a trend.

    And it’s not good news for Labour. Despite the hand wringing and the bluster of the liberal left and the Labour/Green alliance about what is so awful about the government and NZ, most NZ’s beg to differ.

    A debate on the veracity of the polls is entirely reasonable of course and should be had.

    Perhaps what we need in this country is a statistician of the calibre of Nate Silver who analysed all of the polls leading up to the US presidential election last year and who then made highly accurate state by state predictions about its outcome.

    Whilst most of the US polls at the time demonstrated many of the same apparently unreliable characteristics of our polls, a thoughtful analysis of them by a statistician produced a highly accurate prediction.

    This would seem to argue that all polls have some validity and point to certain truth’s or trends, but it is the collective analysis of all them which makes them, as a whole, potentially highly accurate.

  26. @Markus,
    Keys popularity is not being denied, lets face it National supporters vote for him, although some have told me they won’t be next time. That aside, the demographic make up of these recent ‘polls’ are seemingly unknown. The general election is the real poll, but as BE says it’s too late for their influence on the outcome to be undone.

  27. I hope that the Conservative Party gets 5% of the Party Votes at the 2014 Election. It’s time for a change.