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Three recent polls




A TVNZ/Colmar Brunton Poll on 17 February must have been a joyous event for National and it’s supporters.  At 49%, it appeared to show the governing Party with increased (up 5%!) public support.

No such luck, I’m afraid, my Tory fellow New Zealanders.

Three polls this month (February, 2013)  yielded two distinctly different results.


Roy Morgan

13 Feb 2013

TVNZ/Colmar Brunton

17 Feb 2013

Fairfax/Ipsos Poll

20 Feb 2013

Right bloc:


44% (-2%)

49% (+5%)

44.9% (-1.3)

Maori Party

0.5% (-1%)

1% (n/c)

1.3% (-.01%)


0.5% (n/c)

.01% (-0.5%)

.04% (+.04%)

United Future

0% (n/c)

.02% (-0.3%)

.01% (-.01%)

Left bloc:


34.5% (+3%)

33% (-2%)

36.3% (+1.9%)


13.5% (n/c)

11% (-2%)

10.7% (+.02%)

Mana Party

0.5% (n/c)

1% (n/c)

1.4% (+.08%)


NZ First

4% (-1.5%)

4% (n/c)

2.8% (-1%)

Conservative Party

2% (+1.5%)

1% (n/c)

1.6% (.02%)

n/c = no change


Both Roy Morgan and Fairfax/Ipsos show similar, almost identical results for National; 44% and 44.9% respectively. Both also record a drop for the Nats.

Curiously, TVNZ/Colmar Brunton went against the tide, showing support rising by a massive 5%, to 49%.

That 5% rise seems utterly unlikely given the other two polls, and is way outside the “Samnpling Error” of  +/- 3.1%, according to Colmar Brunton’s own website.

So what’s going on? Which polling companies are closer to the real picture (bearing in mind that phone polling is done by calling land-lines – not cellphones, nor door to door)?

A clue might lie in the polling leading up to the 2011 general election:


Roy Morgan

24 Nov 2011

TVNZ/Colmar Brunton

24 Nov 2011*

Fairfax/Media Research

23 Nov 2011


Election results

Closest Polling result

Right bloc:






Roy Morgan

Maori Party





Media Research






Media Research

United Future





Roy Morgan
Left bloc:






Colmar Brunton






Media Research

Mana Party





Media Research

NZ First





Roy Morgan

Conservative Party





Colmar Brunton

n/r = no result provided


(A) Roy Morgan was closest to Election Day results with their polling for the combined National/ACT/United Future bloc at 51.5%.

Colmar-Brunton came second with their combined National/ACT/United Future bloc at 51.8%.

And Media Research came third with their combined National/ACT/United Future bloc at 54.8%

The Election Day result for the combined National/ACT/United Future bloc was 48.98%.

(B) By comparison, the results were reversed when it came to the Labour/Green/Mana bloc.

Media Research was closest with their combined result for the Labour/Green/Mana bloc at 39.1%

Colmar Brunton was again second with 39%.

And Roy Morgan came last with 38.5% for the Labour/Green/Mana bloc.

The Election Day result was 39.62%.

When it came to polling in the week leading up to the 2011 general election, all three pollsters seemed to “pick” correct results – but for different Parties.

Roy Morgan picked National, United Future, and NZ First.

Colmar Brunton picked Labour and the  Conservative Party..

And Media Research picked Maori Party , ACT,  Mana, and the Greens.

As such, for accuracy relating to National, Roy Morgan is the poll to watch.

For Labour, it is Colmar Brunton. (Which, for Colmar Brunton is supported by data here: Opinion polling for the New Zealand general election)

Even well-known  right-wing commentator and National Party apparatchik, Matthew Hooton confirmed this on Monday, 18 February, when he said on  Radio NZ,

According to that [poll], National could govern alone. Look, I find that Colmar Brunton poll has a consistant history of over-estimating National’s support, going back right through to the nineties, if not before. I don’t believe that National has more votes, more support, than it did at the time of the election. National got 47.3[%] [at] the last election. This poll gives it 49[%].”

Source: Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams


Polls seems to be varying wildly, but Roy Morgan appears to be marginally more accurate for National, and Colmar Brunton for Labour.

Having said that, all pollsters rely heavily on landline phone-interviews. Anecdotally, fewer and fewer households (low income; students; etc) are relying on landlines and preferring instead cellphones and the internet.

Support for left-wing Parties, from low income households, may therefore be under-represented in Colmar Brunton polling. The task for the Left, though, is to motivate these housefolds to go out and  vote on Election Day.

If that can be achieved, the Kiwi flirtation with the centre-right will be at an end.

National is also vulnerable on issues relating to,

  • high unemployment
  • increasing job losses
  • a stagnant economy
  • unaffordable housing driven by investors/speculators driving up prices
  • Christchurch
  • asset sales
  • an upcoming poll on asset sales, which could be a hard slap in John Key’s face, with hisinsistance  of having a “mandate” to partially-privatise several SOEs
  • watch out for on-going problems with education, school closures, charter schools, novopay, etc
  • and potential “hot spots” with environmental controversies and health-related issues

All of which will act as a slow-acting political corrosion on National’s polling.

Note 1

(*) The data for Colmar Brunton was updated on 25 February. New data obtained  was closer to Election Day results  than previous figures quoted in this blogpost, which gave an incorrect result.

Note 2

NZ First is the ‘wild card’ in this equation.





Scoop: Support for National barely damaged by Tea Tapes (18 Nov 2011)

Fairfax: National still cosy in polls after tea break (23 Nov 2011)

Roy Morgan: National set for election victory, but no majority as ‘teapot tape’ scandal dents National & benefits NZ First  (24 Nov 2011)

TVNZ: Gap closes as election looms – poll (24 Nov 2011)

Wikipedia: New Zealand general election  (26 Nov 2011)

Wkipedia: Opinion polling for the New Zealand general election (2011)

Roy Morgan: National (44%) lead down over Labour lead down over Labour  (34.5%) Labour, Greens, with minor parties would win election (13 Feb 2013)

TVNZ: National bounces up in poll (17 Feb 2013)

Colmar Brunton: Current One News Colmar Brunton Poll

Fairfax media: National no longer a sure winner – poll (20 Feb 2013)

Other blogs

The Dim Post: My theory about what’s happening in the polls

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



= fs =

  1. 21 February 2013 at 4:35 pm

    That jump for National in that feral poll had me thinking that this time around they only concentrated on phoning land lines in Remuera, Epsom, North Shore Khandallah, Karori where the only women who don’t have to work to keep the wolf from the door reside. OK I’m being facetious but there seems to be a dirty tricks campaign with these rogue polls. If not then the country is full of masochists. What with Novapay, Sky City, CHCH school closures in the headlines the punters can’t be that oblivious to a government stuffing up big time…..can they? 😦

  2. Alison W
    21 February 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Hence why National is waging its war on beneficiaries, sadly, such punitive measures always push up the National polls.

    • 21 February 2013 at 4:57 pm

      Indeed, Alison. Much like Don Brash’s infamous “Orewa speech” in January 2004. It was little more than an undisguised attack on the Treaty of Waitangi, and Treaty negotions – but it earned the Nats a 17% increase in polls…

      • Alison W
        21 February 2013 at 5:23 pm

        Yep, a sad reflection of some who live amongst us, though here’s hoping, Key and National have pushed things too far this time.

        • 21 February 2013 at 5:42 pm

          Eventually they do, Alison. Their policies and actions in the late 1990s, with the then-Shipley led government. People were prepared to riot at one point, as health services were wound back>

          And when the Nats suggested spending over $100 million to demolish or move the Beehive (and finish the old Parliamentary Building), that really set folk off…

          • Denny Weisz
            21 February 2013 at 7:35 pm

            He’s a cock so he’ll keep on pushing shit up hill … and it will hang them …. the sooner the better.

  3. Simon
    21 February 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Poll reading is a dubious art at best but I really like what you have done with the meta analysis. Heres hoping you are on the money 🙂

    • 21 February 2013 at 5:25 pm

      Simon – I just hope I didn’t get too bleary-eyed with all the numbers on the screen in front of me. 😀

  4. uncle charley
    22 February 2013 at 12:49 am

    I can’t wait to vote the bastards out!! It can’t come soon enough!!

  5. Andrew
    24 February 2013 at 11:13 pm

    Frank – why do you ignore the poll Colmar Brunton carried out one week prior to the election?

    I think it’s great to compare polls, but shouldn’t we be comparing apples with apples here? For the other polls in your post, you’ve compared the election result against the polls carried out closest to Election Day. Why don’t you do the same for the Colmar Brunton poll?

    Seems kinda odd to me, if you’re wanting an honest comparison that is.

    • 25 February 2013 at 1:25 am

      Andrew; the Colmar-Brunton poll one week prior to the 26 Nov 2011 election was the 18 November poll shown above, in the second table.

    • 25 February 2013 at 1:36 am

      Correction. There was indeed a further poll, released a couple of days prior to the election, which you’ve alerted me to.

      I’ll re-do the second table later today. (Monday)

      Thanks for the heads-up, Andrew.

  6. Andrew
    25 February 2013 at 5:48 am

    Glad I could help.

  7. Theodore
    25 February 2013 at 11:15 pm

    The current TV3 poll has National on 51.4%. That’s bullshit.

    What are the media feeding us? National propaganda?

  1. 8 March 2013 at 2:48 pm

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