cds list pill buy zithromax online buy lasix with potassium in it online how to get nolvadex in london what is socialism in america the copyright 50 vs 100 mg clomid comprar viagra internet sem receitas buy propecia pills online order to viagra in delhi sildenafil ratiopharm 100 mg comprar is 5mg of finasteride too much order viagra trial inderalici 10 mg reacciones secundarias glucophage 500 mg para bajar de peso can you take folic acid while on clomid metformin hcl 500 mg description comprare viagra pagamento contrassegno gelato biquelle xl 50 mg zoloft cialis online united states tadalafil best price pharmacy how to use accutane viagra pfizer uk jobs doxycycline 400 mg per day azopt tem generico do viagra accutane rowcmoadreders reviews ramilich comp 5mg 25 mg of zoloft generic viagra for him and her hochu v viagra smotret online dotur 100mg doxycycline lasix 20 mg tablet price uk brand viagra real viagra online reviews viagra cialis kamagra kaufen powered by smf 1 1 2 1000 mg metformin weight loss doxycycline price 250 mg donde puedo comprar viagra para mujeres en mexico can i get viagra on nhs prescription 50 mg zoloft safe pregnancy detox cual es el nombre generico de lasix como usar cytotec via sublingual ciprofloxacin solubility in dcm clomid price in india acquisto viagra in contanti ciprofloxacin brands in india zithromax compresse costo prednisolone rectal foam viagra sales in spain viagra online prescription required for nebulizer how to get pregnant with twins while on clomid problemas de comprar viagra por internet buy viagra ny city party with cialis 20 mg lasix 40 mg purpose how many mg in cialis c50 maximum dose for daily cialis mexico ultra brand sildenafil 100mg is 5 mg prednisone enough for a gout flare ureaplasma urealyticum traitement zithromax for sinus tadalafil in drug test ms specialists in michigan can clomid cause uterine fibroids propecia generic canada costco generieke cialis 10 mg buy zovirax eye cream doxycycline dosage for sinus infections clomid causes delayed ovulation prijs cialis in apotheek igroton 25 mg effetti collaterali zoloft zithromax and ceftin together fertility clinic london clomid and iui scherzartikel viagra for sale cialis liquid for women order praivecy viagra of use in pakistan propranolol 40 mg ansiedad zithromax at walmart otc viagra cost retail ciprofloxacina generica oq o viagra pode causar usage of viagra tablets dapoxetine usage statistics manufacturers of generic zoloft cost real viagra cipro for ear infection in adults is prednisone safe to take for 5 days where i buy viagra glucophage 500 mg powder to buy viagra online empfehlungen viagra online kauf clip 500 mg metformin indian sildenafil tablets 100 aviant jarabe generico de cialis minoximen 5 propecia online priligy en colombia viagra jelly uk cheapest what is the standard dosage for cialis ovarian cyst clomid treatment dapoxetine dosage for premature ejaculation viagra buy ireland online cialis 20 mg price walmart finasteride hair loss baldness tablets for sale arrays armslist generics for accutane how to make viagra in hindi mace nyc buy viagra buying viagra in tiajuana mexico best place order cialis online online prescription drugs cipro cytotec drug usage is there an over the counter medicine like clomid doxycycline dosage for dental bijsluiter calci chew 500 mg metformin viagra shop malaysia viagra online india snapdeal coupons ocupress generico do viagra mutual pharmaceutical doxycycline hyclate 100mg viagra drops reviews cialis price in pakistan generic viagra worked for me 5mg generic cialis online order genuine viagra doxycycline monohydrate reviews acne can you break prednisone in half kandungan glucophage xr cost of iui with clomid and ovidrel cheap viagra brooklyn where can you find cytotec in lusakazambia accutane dosage and length of time que efecto causa la pastilla cytotec posso comprare il viagra senza ricetta medica generic viagra sales in south africa altri usi del viagra generic how long before sex do you take cialis can you buy viagra out the store minoxidil propecia and nizoral shampoo cialis 5 ml artrodar generico do viagra omeprazole over the counter substitute for prednisone brand cialis brand cialis 10mg without prescription netbeans jcombobox generics for zoloft when should one take clomid opiniones viagra online glucophage non generic order finasteride minoxidil usa made viagra can u get high off doxycycline comprare pillole cialis cialis discount us where can i buy viagra without prescription in dublin sale speziato cipro ampho moronal 100 mg beipackzettel ciprofloxacin does doxycycline hyclate treat pid zoloft price in usa glucophage 500 mg uses best price viagra thailand how to counteract mood changes prednisone tadalafil effets secondaires comprare viagra line opinioni viagra spray for men where to buy qual a melhor dosagem de viagra viagra indian brands in ruppes stop prednisone at 30 mg sandoz sildenafil uk 50 mg price cost generic sildenafil doxycycline oesophagitis treatment donde comprar cialis en miami zithromax 500mg cost nigeria can you get clomid over counter buy cheap generic cialis what is generic for metformin viagra male pill for sale esempio prescrizione viagra for sale what does generic viagra pills look like metformin 750 mg sr zoloft safe anxiety diabetes patient can use viagra generic viagra 25 mg para que se usa cytotec 200 oral use of ampicillin and cloxacillin stores in lahore where cialis is available bell s palsy prednisone mg tabs where can i get viagra in miami viagra nz online order vibramycin online boleto turistico cusco donde comprar viagra is there any danger in taking cialis viagra in health care reform cialis cum generic minuteviagra us com viagra para que sirve propranolol 10 mg bad zoloft reviews stein costa rica viagra has anyone brought viagra of craigslist in vancouver bc generic cialis quotthe new way to businessquot overnight delivery cialis generic can clomid cause negative opk quais os efeitos do generico do viagra viagra over counter in johannesburg can zoloft really work forgot to take clomid today cipro 250 mg for uti with metoprolol accutane causes blindness over the counter pills that work as good as viagra viagra in icu do you need a prescription to buy zithromax prednisone 40 mg for 10 yr old define socialist realism how often can i take cialis 20 mg name brand viagra no prescription mit 18 viagra generic is viagra available in walgreens generic sildenafil 100mg uk can l buy clomid over the counter in cyprus clomid 12 5 mg doxycycline if missed dose doxycycline in pediatric patients viagra online pharmacy utah cialis 2.5 mg taken daily buy generic cialis without prescription vidalista black cialis 80 mg deltasone rowcmoadreders price buy viagra cheap online in uk mylan metformin reviews cialis buy in pakistan pharmacology doxycycline hyclate to treat bv metformin average dose generic cialis pay with mastercard quando si usa clomid buying viagra otc in france online cialis duluth mn metformin max dose per day ciprofloxacino alter 250 mg mesterolone generico de cialis how to use injectable liquid viagra tomar 40 mg de cialis buy zoloft online no prescription trote willmutt viagra for sale generic cialis soft tabs has best price cialis viagra 100 red tablets anabolic steroids ireland buy viagra mgsv skull face is generic viagra zithromax 500 mg indicaciones para the cost of zovirax acyclovir metformin and canada can clomid cause nipple pain mode of action of dapoxetine what happens if i forget to take propecia generic cialis 36 cheapest from switzerland when does viagras patent rights finish in canada does lasix have sulfa in it is it safe to take amoxicillin and prednisone cipro 500 mg twice a day bid want to buy viagra in ottawa ontario klonopin vs zoloft for anxiety how to buy viagra from cipla sildenafil aurochem 100 mg dove comprare cialis in svizzera buy online p viagra viagracheap onesite com cialisbuy now malaysia what is the cost of viagra or cialis can i buy viagra over the counter at walgreens can anyone take lasix metformin data sheet uk finasteride generico italia how to find out cialis 20mg is not fake in pattaya buy viagra landing page patency of viagra in uae real online pharmacy viagra specialist rank in the us army generic viagra cumming accoutumance cialis generic cialis 70 mg vs 5 mg daily can ampicillin be used for tooth infection use clomid after steroid cycle how much cialis costs buy viagra sukhumvit shop for viagra in sydney ingredients of viagra natural viagra sales online uk pharmacies how long does propecia stay in system metformin hcl 500 mg diabetes how much does metformin sr cost ciprofloxacin otic drops are contraindicated in heart prednisone in community acquired pneumonia where to buy cialis cheap nome do remedio viagra generico viagra generika preiswert where i can buy propecia without prescription doxycycline hyclate 100 mg su uso metolazone 2 5 mg and lasix generic prednisone vs. prednisolone in feline cipro used for in teens viagra tablets in india names how long do you take accutane for acne cialis mg 200 propecia indian buy diflucan pill ppw chennai cheap finasteride 5mg how do i get viagra for my boyfriend best facial lotion accutane tranxene 50 mg bijsluiter cialis what is propranolol er 120 mg doxycycline hyclate over the counter in rhode island canadian medicine cipro generic soft tab cialis information how many mg of prednisone do you give a 30lb dog where i can buy viagra in calgary oral prednisone use in cancer treatment glucophage xr 750 mg pcos diagnosis is doxycycline hyclate 100mg used for uti buy propecia in canada doxycycline hyclate walmart can you drink and use viagra metformin tab 750 mg er cialis in america celebrities that use propecia cialis with dapoxetine generic viagra kaufen express prednisolone 20 mg cortisone where to get viagra in coventry dabex xr metformina 500 mg how long is zoloft in the system legit viagra online without prescription paypal socialist economics articles in camb j econ 25mg clomid multiples canesten or diflucan buying generic cialis online can you take nurofen with clomid viagra show up in drug test top quality viagra items in karachi can i buy zithromax over the counter at walgreens cost of cytotec in south africa how long has clomid been used where can i buy misoprostol cytotec in the philippines socialism in american politics panamol 500 mg metformin drugs for chlamydia zithromax z pak buy generic substitutes for zoloft wo gibts viagra zu kaufen live poultry chicago cialis generic prednisone tapering schedule 4 mg dose pack do the viagra in pubs work is generic viagra safe zovirax not working current otc herbal viagra sold in nyc stores does sandoz finasteride really work medicamento cialis 40 mg zoloft bestelen cialis where in singapore can i buy generic viagra sale on line 40 mg cialis how does work pueden usar viagra mujeres does insurance cover cost of viagra can you use ovulation test while on clomid waar viagra bestellen 2nd day of clomid 50mg cialis sale next day delivery what is considered long term usage of prednisone what is price of viagras in india what is best time of day to take cialis 5 mg finasteride tablet usp 1 mg metformin tablets in pregnancy viagra.detail in tamil comprar sildenafil venta libre ciprofloxacin 500 mg philippine brand name how to use generic cialis e20 generic blue and white cialis puedo comprar accutane sin receta cost of 5 mg. cialis in mexico natural miscarriage vs. cytotec can a 19 year old take cialis want to buy viagra in pakistan telejornal generico de cialis should cipro be taken with food koortslipcreme zovirax generic 150 mg generic viagra capsule metformin 500 mg dog viagra e prostata viagra distributors canada cipro 500 mg coupon can you buy viagra in italy in viagra generico da 25 mg depo provera generico de cialis therapeutic effect of cytotec in wiki does safeway sell viagra cost of cytotec in louisiana cost of generic zithromax generico do viagra da ems cistitis tratamiento antibiotico ciprofloxacin 500 mg can you cut a cialis 20 mg in two finasteride indian brands of clothes how much does generic accutane cost buy viagra usa online can i buy nolvadex over the counter in south africa comprar cialis fiar buying surplus cialis price viagra uk zovirax 800 mg compresse propranolol 40 mg high tech cialis online offerte young men cialis reviews use paypal to buy zithromax prednisolone 20 mg posologia de azitromicina buy viagra lahore pakistan do chemists sell viagra 150mg clomid 1500 mg metformin for weight phexin redisyp 125 mg methylprednisolone cialis 10 mg posologia the viagra condom viagra online group what works as well as accutane cost finasteride 1mg causa impotencia significado ciprofloxacin 500 mg 2 times a day how to get rid of doxycycline rash buy 300 tadalafil cipla online no prescription .50 ciprofloxacin hcl 250 mg taivx metformin weight loss 1500 mg omeprazole sandoz 40 mg bijsluiter nolvadex boyfriend takes viagra comprar viagra en sabadell inderal 10 mg price philippines walk in clinic cialis provera and clomid dosage in men two doses of clomid in one cycle viagra online con postepay solucion oftalmica ciprofloxacin 500 mg why viagra price increase buy viagra online uk next day delivery proscar finasteride 5mg uk viagra sold over counter usa dexedrine 20 mg cialis india viagra penegra viagra over the counter in london cialis online3 online viagra ru clomid 100mg with metformin propecia generico mylan pharmacy has best prices viagra cialis where can i buy doxycycline for my cat viagra pfizer in new york cialis sample coupon serotonin syndrome from 25 mg zoloft 3 tablets of clomid online brown viagra pill generic when should i take my cialis pill remboursement cialis 5mg where can i buy generic viagra with a mastercard do i need a prescription for viagra in london sildenafil zentiva 50 mg kaufen cialis tadalafil 30 lu tablet 100 mg prednisone corticosteroids dosage fraxiparine 0 3 ml bijsluiter nolvadex should cialis be taken every day indian nolvadex vs clomid linq hi 150 mg viagra how many mg of cialis do i take to fuck for long time facsimile prescrizione cialis canada buy doxycycline in the us not digesting metformin pills about viagra medicine in telugu script cialis price viagra price wie wirkt viagra genau in german belmont stakes lasix aspirina effervescent generico do viagra metformin brand name canada 7.5 mg prednisone equivalent prednisolone india viagra safe nursing implications for zithromax generic accutane brands can i use aha while on accutane vibramycin tablets used for sale cialis for daily use cost vs does viagra show up in test ciprofloxacin 500 mg cuts birth control pills accutane settlements canada what are the active ingredients in prednisone dapoxetine hydrochloride australia flag illegal use of viagra ic prednisone 10 mg for asthma cheap propecia dergboadre benefits of glucophage for pcos accutane pisces headphones reviews best place buy cialis uk pharmacy contraindications to cytotec in labor retina specialist in nj doxycycline 200 mg per day acne cialis diario causa dependencia prednisolone 6.7 mg metformin 500 mg bula real name for nolvadex manfaat viagra usa doxycycline hyclate capsules usp 50 mg msds viagra use in nigeria will 25 mg zoloft do anything deep discount viagra cialis super active that accept discover card take 2 50mg clomid buy finasteride nz ampicillin dose enterococcus what happens to a woman that takes viagra breast feeding in zoloft where to buy unprescribed clomid in south africa Kiwipolitico » Blog Archive » Poll dancing

Poll dancing

datePosted on 20:51, November 10th, 2011 by Lew

Chris Trotter suggests that frequent and heavily-publicised polls favour the right and result in a self-fulfilling prophecy, depressing support for the left. Bomber Bradbury has made similar arguments in the past.

There are two parts to this: first, the question of whether polls are inaccurate vis-a-vis the actual views of the electorate, and if so whether they do in fact favour the right; and second, whether this, on its own, has a substantive impact on actual real-world support.

Lyndon Hood FTW

I am aware of no robust research on this topic in the NZ context (which isn’t to say that it doesn’t exist; although if it did I’d expect the many proponents of this line of argument to be citing it all day long.) So to kick off, let me concede that if there was a significant ideological bias to the polls it certainly could have an impact on voter behaviour. But I suspect any impact would be more complicated than the simple “low showing for a party causes low turnout and/or low support” reading of the “spiral of silence” model Chris cites (which is nevertheless a useful model). For one thing, it’s not clear that the impact is very strong in case of a secret ballot; also, the argument doesn’t take into account New Zealanders’ oft-cited peeriness about single-party majority governments in the wake of Muldoon, Lange and Bolger which could have a moderating effect, and it doesn’t take into consideration the usual “narrowing” that occurs in the latter stages of an election campaign as wavering voters begin to make up their minds. So I doubt the size of this effect on Labour’s polling at least; any shift should not be large, and certainly not sufficient to change the election outcome. However where NZ First is concerned it’s different — a percentage point or two makes all the difference in the world there, and whether NZ First returns to parliament or not rests on the collective spirit of Winston’s faithful. Assuming they still make up fiveish per cent of the voting population they must not waver, and must cast their votes together regardless of what they are told about the polls. If they fail to do so NZ First is out, and all those votes are wasted, and that is certainly an outcome that could result from widespread reporting of polls that show NZ First under the threshold (and one that could change the election outcome).

Note, however, that all that is contingent on those polls showing NZ First to be under the threshold actually being wrong. I’m not persuaded of this, and I’m also dubious about the contention that polls favour the right. As Bomber is fond of pointing out, the polls run in the leadup to the Auckland Supercity election favoured John Banks, while in the election Len Brown won handsomely. That’s important to remember, but it’s only one data point so I’m hesitant to draw meaningful conclusions from it, and if it’s evidence of anything, it’s against the simple reading of the “Spiral of Silence” thesis, according to which Brown’s demoralised supporters should have stayed home.

There is also some evidence out of the US to suggest that landline-only polls favour the Republican party over the Democrats (when compared to polling samples that include cellphones). It’s not clear is that this trend is also in effect in New Zealand. Based on no data, I think it has some influence, but our situation here differs in important ways; most notably, we have more than two parties so variance of this sort is more dilute and less zero-sum. And the likely effect would be ambivalent — if landline-only polls tend to exclude the young and the poor and tech-savvy urban liberals, they should overstate support for NZ First, not understate it.

The matter of bias isn’t readily testable because, as an Australian poll analyst put it recently when looking at bias between pollsters in that market, “we just don’t have elections every week to determine the true state of public opinion“.* There is also evidence to suggest that people’s voting behaviour differs in important ways from how they answer opinion polls. So we need to rely on other forms of measurement; proxies being measured against proxies. There are focus-groups, vox pop interviews and 75c text-polls and coffee-bean polls, and the Horizon poll with its radically different weighting system, but I see no firm grounds to believe any of these would be any more reliable than the major phone poll companies. One very strong point in favour of the usual sort of phone-based opinion polling is that it has remained more or less methodologically consistent for a very long time. This gives us extremely large, continuous datasets that we can plot against real-world events including policy releases, major speeches, current events and elections. In this regard they are much like audience/circulation ratings in the media. The utility of these well-established systems isn’t that they have no flaws — they certainly do, and much of the criticism is valid — it’s that they have a reasonably well-known set of flaws that are consistent over time, and we can use the historical record to make inferences about the present day (too few people, I think, are actually doing this, but that’s a different matter). By contrast other systems — Horizon, in particular — are less well-known, and serious questions need to be asked about the quality of their results. They’re worth watching, but they are not as yet a substitute for what we already have.

Returning to the argument. So if the polls systematically favour the right, and if they do so in such a way as doesn’t also favour NZ First’s older, wealthier and more conservative demographic, and if the extent of that bias is significant enough to have a significant zero-sum election night impact despite all the confounding variables of voter behaviour, then Chris might be right.

But that’s a lot of ifs, and a claim as bold as “polling companies and the media steal elections from the left” demands extremely robust evidence to be given credence. I’m open to the argument, but what we have here isn’t evidence, much less the robust kind; it’s supposition, and what’s more it’s supposition derived from partisan loyalty. The argument is unfalsifiable — if the election does deliver a substantial defeat to Labour and NZ First they will take that as proof-positive that they were right all along and the voters were robbed; if it doesn’t no doubt they will cheer those who battled valiantly and overcame the oppressive regime imposed by the forces of evil. In this regard the argument is nearly indistinguishable from that made in 2008 by the Free Speech Coalition who, despite their howls about Stalinist restrictions on political marketing, managed to help their political representatives to a handy win.

My view of Chris and Bomber’s general line of argument is that it’s more of the usual excuse-making and blame-shifting that I see from lefties who can’t bear that their tribe is staring down the barrel of a(nother) heavy defeat. It’s an attempt to make the evil media cabal responsible for poor performance, and to minimise the effect of weak leadership, institutional incompetence, lacklustre campaign and — in Peters’ case — public self-immolation during the last term. It’s a myth; something to keep the faithful warm at night, in the absence of actual victory. Myths certainly have a kernel of essential truth, but they should not be mistaken for evidence. Moreover, as regards Chris’ concerns about the election accurately reflecting voters’ wishes; these would have more credibility if his own history of respecting the solemn integrity of electoral politics was itself less one-eyed. He thunders:

hundreds-of-thousands of New Zealanders will not only be perfectly entitled to say “bugger the pollsters”, but they will also be entirely justified in asserting that the election has been stolen from them

This would ring less hollow if, following the 2005 election, he had not so cravenly excused the Labour party’s own admitted breach of electoral law as being “acceptable corruption” inasmuch as it served the greater ideological purpose of preventing National from being elected. Given that history, his complaints about polling and media conduct look like nothing more than an appeal to ideological tribalism with a bright red smear of electoral integrity lipstick on.

And yet, he has a strong point: if NZ First’s share of the party vote on November 26 comes in fractionally below the 5% threshold, democracy will have been poorly served in 2011, as it was in 2008. My personal views of that party aside, as a matter of natural justice anyone commanding a twentieth of the vote should be entitled to roughly a twentieth of the representation in Parliament. But however unsexy it might be, the solution to this isn’t injustice to attack the pollsters or the media. The argument isn’t supported by the evidence; even if it was nobody’s going to change on Chris and Bomber’s say-so, and we all saw what happened to the Clark government’s regulatory overreach. The pragmatic response here is to work towards reducing or removing the electoral threshold so as to ensure that natural justice is served and variance is less likely to simply exclude a party from representation, and to turn back to the process of returning political rigour to the political left by building competence, vision and leadership so it can succeed despite the obstacles before it. Less myth, more reality.


* Pollytics’ analysis plots polling companies against each other, measuring each pollster’s bias from the other polling companies. David Winter has had a go at doing something similar for the NZ context, though he has much less data to work with. While interesting, it’s important to reiterate that none of this addresses the concerns about poll accuracy vis-a-vis the electorate.)

29 Responses to “Poll dancing”

  1. MeToo on November 10th, 2011 at 21:41

    Bradbury claims low numbers of households in South Auckland have landline telephones cf the North Shore:

    But he didn’t respond to the Whaleoil challenge to say where he got his figures from:

    If they were true, it would justify claims that the methodology is skewing the results. I note polls such as Colmar Brunton control for all sorts of demographics except income, which strikes me as a weakness.

    Rob Salmond has responded to Trotter’s claims about bias and reckons they are wrong:

  2. MeToo on November 10th, 2011 at 21:55

    There’s one polling company that is cheating its paymaster: they ring me most months.

    I wonder if, when they are short of people with my profile, they know they’ll hit the jackpot with me – I’m always happy to take part.

    Given they never ask me about my previous responses and never acknowledge they have spoken to me before, I assume this is a mistake (read: laziness) on their part, not deliberate methodology.(My answers are always the same.)

  3. Anita on November 11th, 2011 at 08:32


    In your reading have you seen any evidence for or against a hypothesis that public polls suppress the vote when elections are not close?

    It has always seemed to me that knowing the party you vaguely support will win by a country mile may make your vote seem as pointless as knowing the party you vaguely support will be on the losing side of that gap. I get frustrated with the FPP mentaility of much coverage of polls here, as they seem to emphasise a winner takes all view, rather than looking at the overall effect on the blend in Parliament.

  4. Lew on November 11th, 2011 at 09:17

    MeToo, interesting. I did read Rob’s article at the time but had forgotten it. He’s a much more credible authority on this topic than I am, so if he’s failed to persuade Chris and Bomber then I think the chances of doing so are slim.


    I haven’t seen any, but I also didn’t look very hard for that so there may be some. On the upside — National in the NZ context — I suspect that’s what people will point to, especially with the latest DigiPoll showing National below 50%. But the confounds are huge; as Giovanni Tiso observed, the headline might as well be “Poll shock as what every analyst had said would happen as the election drew closer in time, happened”.

    On the downside (Labour &c) it’s the same problem as anything — how does one distinguish between genuinely low or falling support for an unpopular party who’s failing to connect with the electorate, and change resulting from reporting of that fact? I think proving the latter would be extremely tricky.

    I think the FPP analysis of polls (emphasising the gap between National and Labour, rather than between National, and Labour and its probable coalition partners, is partly laziness and partly genuine need to avoid voter confusion. The relationship status between Labour and potential partners is “complicated”; it’s not like Australia where the Nationals will always vote en bloc with the Liberals and they can be consistently taken together. I also think that norm of poll reporting will change somewhat if the Greens’ vote holds up, or if the relationship between Green and Labour were to firm up to the point where a coalition between them is seen more likely than not.


  5. Graeme Edgeler on November 11th, 2011 at 10:38

    The FPP analysis of the polls is at times even more problematic: e.g. the polls just prior to the 2010 Wellington City Council had the DomPost telling everyone the Kerry Prendergast was well ahead. I looked at the numbers on the front page and thought “they’ve forgotten that this is STV, I reckon Celia Wade-Brown might have it.”

    I wonder whether our polling companies need to take advise from place overseas when dealing with different systems: there’s no reason the Wellington poll shouldn’t also have asked people “the Wellington Council elections use a preferential system where you get to rank the candidates with numbers, whom will you rank higher: Kerry and Celia?”

  6. helenalex on November 11th, 2011 at 11:51

    Info on landlines by electorate available here:

    (Despite appearances it has the info for the entire population, not just Maori).

  7. Chris Trotter on November 11th, 2011 at 12:17

    It is disappointing, Lew, to see you join the ranks of the right-wing bloggers by misrepresenting my position regarding the 2005 election.

    In the column so often cited I was actually quite critical of Labour for breaching the election rules. But, I was also very thankful that Helen Clark had quite probably prevented a Brash victory by doing so.

    Dr Brash was, of course, absolutely committed to abolishing the Maori seats – a move which would very likely have plunged New Zealand into horribly destructive racial conflict.

    If the choice was between Maori and Pakeha being at each other’s throats and New Zealand spiralling into a deeply regressive social environment OR Helen Clark’s spending outside the rules, then I would still plump for “a little corruption”.

    It’s interesting that, in spite of your oft-stated support for Maori causes, you would have preferred a Brash Government dedicated to abolishing Maori representation and tearing up the Treaty of Waitangi.

    You have also misunderstood the point of the posting you criticise.

    My dispute is with the way the news media uses the poll data obtained from the major agencies to frame its National-friendly coverage of the entire campaign.

    Your use of terms like “evil media cabal” shows how unwilling you are to take such criticism seriously.

    Wouldn’t want to bite the hand that feeds you, I suppose.

  8. Lew on November 11th, 2011 at 12:31

    Chris, I don’t think you know as much about what I do as you think you do.

    As to the rest: I’ve always been perfectly plain in arguing that the integrity of the system as a whole is more important than any given outcome — even an outcome I am very attached to. I certainly don’t disagree about the post-2005 counterfactual — but if that’s the will of the people as expressed by the system we have to measure it, then that’s an unfortunate reality. If you’re happy to countenance cheating in service of your own preferred outcomes then you lose some credibility when complaining about unfairness that favours the other side. It’s as simple as that.

    I haven’t misunderstood the point — I’ve previously expressed my views about the “National-friendly coverage” argument on many occasions, and as far as I’m concerned that argument is the same as the one about polls: a myth for which little evidence exists, and what evidence does exist is highly ambivalent, usually deployed by the left to excuse poor performance or incompetent strategy. I am happy to consider the evidence — but neither you, nor the other leading proponents of this line of reasoning, have provided any.


  9. Tiger Mountain on November 11th, 2011 at 13:08

    There is one recent study here re media coverage allocation…
    not a ‘hammer blow’ for either side of the argument but interesting enough. Winston First has had a hell of a struggle to get any media time this election he claims. And as a follower of political events believe him, for a while I wondered if he had forgotten to engage any media help at all.

  10. Lew on November 11th, 2011 at 14:44

    Commiserations, Chris — the fools writing the NZ Herald election liveblog have gotten us confused (at 1:10pm). I’m sure you’re as upset about it as I am, but no response from them yet.

    TM, yes, interesting. Bahador’s similar study from the 2008 election, from memory, showed that Key and National actually got a harder time than most lefties thought. I have a copy somewhere, and when I find it I’ll link it up.


  11. Anita on November 11th, 2011 at 18:40

    I’m never terribly confident about experimental studies in this area, but here’s an interesting study which shows that public opinion polls generally increase turnout, but decrease it when the gap is predicted to be very wide.

    Großer, J. and Schram, A. (2010), Public Opinion Polls, Voter Turnout, and Welfare: An Experimental Study. American Journal of Political Science, 54: 700–717. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2010.00455.x

    They are talking about a two candidate winner takes all scenario, but still…

  12. Sanctuary on November 11th, 2011 at 19:30

    “…I’ve always been perfectly plain in arguing that the integrity of the system as a whole is more important than any given outcome…”

    Wow. Just wow. The modern Nuremburg defense.

  13. Sanctuary on November 11th, 2011 at 19:35

    Or upon reflection, perhaps the following:

    “…The court strongly feels that, although it is to be regretted that Rear-Admiral Albert H. Markham did not carry out his first intention of semaphoring to the C-in-C his doubt as to the signal, it would be fatal to the best interests of the Service to say he was to blame for carrying out the directions of the C-in-C present in person…”

  14. Lew on November 11th, 2011 at 19:40


    “Wow. Just wow. The modern Nuremburg defense.”

    This is probably the most intellectually dishonest comment I’ve seen from you.

    Democracy means sometimes you’ve got to put up with bad outcomes. If you fudge the system you have to expect that the other lot will fudge the system as well, and they have many more resources and much more cover to do so.

    I went over my views in greater detail in this post:


  15. *_* on November 11th, 2011 at 22:49

    Yes Chris, a ‘little corruption’ is allsweet as if Labour is doing it for a good cause.

    But your justificatory basis for political corruption is weak which makes your motivations suspect.

    If it was National who did the same thing for a similar reason I sincerely doubt you would be as charitable

  16. DeepRed on November 12th, 2011 at 01:14

    What Lew has written basically reinforces my long-held theory – that pollsters aren’t necessarily biased, but rather behind the times.

  17. ak on November 13th, 2011 at 22:04

    Of course there’s no hard evidence Lew. Who’s going to admit to “Did you say you support National because you really don’t follow politics but heard on the news that National’s miles ahead in the polls and didn’t want to sound ignorant or a loser to a total stranger who sounded nice?”

    And why would the experts – advertisers – spend zillions on constant “the largest/best-selling/most popular/world leading/2-million-kiwis-can’t-be-wrong” rubbish if it had no effect?

    You know why I can’t elaborate (and thanks for respecting my need for anonymity), but believe me, I’ve see the peer-pressure effect almost weekly over many years. And repeatedly, absolutely blatant press distortion, omission and manipulation – which among other things, enables the former effect.

    Admittedly, can’t say it’s systemic, but it certainly does happen. With systemic impunity.

    And note that “crooked polling” isn’t necessary (though it wouldn’t surprise me at all, having designed and run polls and knowing how simple it would be to achieve with utter impunity): just an emphasis and repetition (e.g. by ignoring the Green poll and citing only Labour) to start the snowball rolling.

    You’re right, “more reality” is exactly what’s needed. And it may be worth nothing, but based on the reality of my own experience, that means expecting nothing from the media and working the net, halls and grass-roots organisation. Mining, Mt Albert, Lenslide, Hone: and reputedly, Winnie. We’ll see.

  18. Conrad on November 14th, 2011 at 12:38

    Re Sanctuary’s quote about ALbert Markham; Several years before he obeyed orders and steered into his commanders ship, Markham designed the New Zealand flag.

  19. Lew on November 14th, 2011 at 12:42

    ak, that’s not the only way to gather evidence.

    One sort of evidence that was referred to upthread is Babak Bahador’s research on the election campaign at the University of Canterbury; the final results of the 2008 analysis are here.

    In a nutshell: National received more negative and less positive coverage than Labour; John Key received more negative and less positive coverage than Helen Clark; National got a larger proportion of the vote than their proportion of the coverage, and Labour got a smaller proportion of the vote than their proportion of the coverage.

    This isn’t definitive — one study never is — and I have some underlying methodological questions.

    But if you’re inclined to dismiss it out of hand because it yields results you don’t like, well, there’s a word for that, beginning with ‘b’.


  20. ak on November 14th, 2011 at 18:11

    Balloon? Can’t open it and don’t recall dismissing it in or out of hand, but in another nutshell from memory:

    One study over a few weeks of a few outlets. And yes, methodology: single score form memory of “positive” or “negative” for selected quotes. Can’t begin to describe the flaws that screamed at the time, just remember thinking that the Herald’s red front page and Lenin/Helen statuettes could have scored the same as a footnote on page 3 saying “Key was accused of being economical with the truth”. No account of degree, or of course of what was never reported, said by whom, validity, etc etc. Current e.g: “Key crucifies Goff over $17billion funding hole” – one positive scored for Key? and/or one negative for Goff? “Goff denies hole” – positive for Goff?

    I maintain: impossible to measure, but we know it when we see it.

  21. Lew on November 14th, 2011 at 21:10

    So now you’re picking methodological holes in a piece of research because it didn’t yield an appropriate result? Yes, to better judge its veracity there are methodological questions that need to be answered — but you haven’t even asked the questions, let alone gotten answers, before writing the whole result off. No analysis of this sort can be perfect, but such a project can yield meaningful results without being perfect.

    And claiming that such a result proves it’s “impossible to measure”? There’s another b-word for that. Qualitative research to measure this sort of thing is methodologically non-trivial and very time-consuming but it can be done, and in fact it *is* done on a very regular basis.

    I don’t have any stake in Bahador’s research, but I think that since he’s an academic in good standing at a NZ university whose research will have had to gain faculty approval,I think writing it off requires some pretty strong grounds.


  22. ak on November 14th, 2011 at 22:48

    “…because it didn’t yield an appropriate result?” Settle.

    “Qualitative research to measure this sort of thing is methodologically non-trivial and very time-consuming but it can be done, and in fact it *is* done on a very regular basis.”

    Ah, good. And not trying to be smart, but could you then point me to some please?

  23. Lew on November 14th, 2011 at 23:38

    You’ve got some right in front of you; two studies in the public domain on this very topic. Not good enough? Do your own damned research. Start here:


  24. ak on November 15th, 2011 at 12:02

    Yeah I’ve seen those two, we discussed the second remember, and the first is where I found

    “After at least 60 years of research, a rich literature has developed
    concerning the question ‘do polls influence behavior?’. Yet no conclusive or unambiguous answer
    to the question can be given, whether related to vote choice, turnout, or opinions on issues.”

    Which sorta backs me up don’t you think.

    Also been to that Wikipedia thingy and a few other places in the course of my soc degree, but thanks anyway.

    (ps – b words – are they “baselessly belligerent”? mines bemused)

  25. Lew on November 15th, 2011 at 12:42

    No, ak, it doesn’t back you up — you’re arguing that polls and the media do positively influence behaviour in certain ways; I’m arguing that the evidence is ambiguous.


  26. ak on November 15th, 2011 at 14:02

    I’m arguing that the evidence is ambiguous

    Fair enough. Sorry, I thought you were arguing that the academic research somehow negated my and Chris’ opinion, glad you agree it proves nothing.

    A bit sad though – looks like it took them sixty years to find out that the evidence is impossible to measure. (ducks for cover..)

  27. Lew on November 15th, 2011 at 14:34

    ak, it doesn’t negate your opinion — but since you’re arguing a positive effect the onus is on you to provide evidence, which you haven’t done. So your opinion, at minimum, is not one based on evidence (or at least not evidence you can articulate beyond “I know it when I see it”.)

    Your other argument is that qualitative aspects of media coverage can’t be measured. They can. I know they can because it’s what I do. What’s more difficult is tying those characteristics to voter behaviour, because there are a huge range of confounding variables. The same goes for polling. Regardless, whatever argument you make along these lines needs to be based on evidence to have any credibility.

    All I’m arguing is “it’s more complicated than collective delusions of persecution by The Man”. That’s a position supported by the evidence, such as it is.

    Anyway, I’m done with this argument.


  28. markus on November 16th, 2011 at 01:03

    I notice Babak Bahador’s research paper suggests Labour received more negative references when the stories “came from journalists themselves and reflected their opinions” (Nats received more negative NEWS story coverage / Labour received more negative ANALYSIS story coverage).

    I certainly remember story after story on the front page of the Dom Post during the 08 campaign attacking Labour (“analysis” rather than “news”, but on the front page). One particularly egregious example that instantly comes to mind – Tracy Watkins outlines arguments from Helen Clark, Michael Cullen and Phil Goff (on whatever the issue of that particular day was) and then, after each one, decides to take it upon herself to negate the substance of what they’ve just said – along the lines of: “Helen Clark has argued that……” “But that can’t be right because……” “Michael Cullen suggests……” “However, he’s clearly wrong because……” Why bother going to the National Opposition for reaction when you can act as a Nat spokeswoman yourself ?

    The Dom Post’s coverage in 2008 was without doubt very one-sided in favour of National.

    As to the poll question: Labour voters (or, at least, voters from demographics that you would naturally expect to vote Left) tend to be less likely to vote anyway and if (a) polls suggest the Left trails the Right and (b) FPP-style media coverage of poll results lead voters to erroneously believe that Labour needs to bridge the entire gap (between the two main parties) in order to win power = then it seems likely that this tendency would be greatly reinforced. No hope of victory leading to non-voting. Can’t prove it but it seems like common sense.

  29. […] Tapes poll: political moral suasion Posted on 23:38, November 18th, 2011 by Lew I recently tore into Chris Trotter’s argument that polls are deployed to promote a “spiral of […]

Leave a Reply

Name: (required)
Email: (required) (will not be published)