25/02/2020
Dieuwe de Boer
Opinion
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Polls Show No Real Change in 3 Years

There were two new polls this month, the first for this election year. The important thing is that neither differed much from around three months ago, and they don’t even differ much from each other. We’re talking about 'swings' that add up to not much over the margin of error, compared to their last poll in October.

Either things are stable, or the polling companies have no idea what’s going on, so it’s all "too close to call".

What might be useful is a chart showing what each party was polling in Feb 2017, what they polled on election day, and what they polled in Feb 2020.
Party Feb 2017 Election Result Feb 2020
National 46% 44.4% 46% (43.3%)
Labour 30% 36.9% 41% (42.5%)
NZ First 11% 7.2% 3% (3.6%)
Green 11% 6.3% 5% (5.6%)
ACT 0.8% 0.5% 2% (1.8%)
NC 0.2% 0.2% 1% (0.7%)
TOP 0.0% 2.4% 0% (0.6%)
Maori 0.7% 1.2% 1% (0.9%)

*Using a Colmar Brunton poll from Feb 2017, and the Colmar Brunton + Reid Research polls for Feb 2020, with the latter in brackets.
*I’ve bolded the parties that improved their situations on election day, and those that are tracking to do so this time.

As you can see, the behemoth that is the National Party is extremely stable. Supposedly they have the same level of support as when the far more popular Bill English was at the helm. As much as Simon Bridges is disliked, the polls (if accurate) don’t show it hurting National one bit, nor is his unpopularity benefiting them.

Labour is still benefiting from Jacindamania, which is simultaneously continuing to tank NZ First and the Greens. Those who will vote Winston no matter what number at around 3% of the electorate, and it also seems that Jacinda is much too green for the Greens to justify their existence.

That brings us to the most interesting thing about the chart I put together. National-ACT share is stable at 45-48% and the Labour-NZFirst-Green numbers are consistent at 50-52%.

The discarded vote might be the only thing that could tip the scales; beyond that the polls are surprisingly similar over the past 3 year period in terms of coalition building.

National is banking on both NZ First and the Greens being knocked out of parliament. There is a strong precedent for that to happen to junior support partners. It also means National knows they don’t have the raw numbers and haven’t had them in over 3 years.

For all the unending hype about shifts in the polls, it’s all surprisingly mundane, relative to exactly 3 years ago and also to the last election day. The only change to report is that there’s no real change at all.

The polls are really there to benefit one party: the Media Party. They get to flip the coin and we’re supposed to be excited about whether it lands on “Labour” or “Labour, but from ten years ago.”