Joe Hendren

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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The herald poll is a fruitcake

Today the Herald released the final results of its final poll. My phone rang last week, making me one of the 800 people they polled.

To my dismay, the Herald released early results of its poll, based on 302 of 800 respondents, despite this being highly likely to affect the results. This also surprised DPF and Left and Lefter.

Seems to me the Herald is more interested in creating polls to sell newspapers, than accurately reporting public opinion. If it was an attempt to drum up more column inches out of Brash's speech, or even tacitly support his proposals, the attempt appears to have failed, even though they asked some mightily leading questions.

When asked which party I would vote for if an election was held tomorrow I said "Alliance". In any case, as a political geek with an interest in polls, I knew that showing my support for a small party would show up more about the poll than supporting a major party (not that I would in any case).

I was then asked if I knew the subject of Don Brash's latest speech. I immediately clarified whether they were asking me whether I knew the subject of Brash's speech or whether I agreed with his proposals. They were asking me what his speech was about. Considering the questions that followed, I thought this question was more than a little leading.

I was then asked whether I thought welfare was the most important "problem" facing New Zealand, one of the important "problems"...or not an issue. Describing welfare as a "problem" is leading also. I said it was one of the important problems, but for entirely different reason to Brash - I think many benefits are too low. While the question is open to different interpretations I knew this was unlikely to be represented in any reporting of the poll. When I was asked what issue did I think was the most important I replied "Student loans" - surely it would have been better practice to ask this question BEFORE mentioning Brash?

I was then asked about whether I supported some specific ideas in the speech. I was disappointed not to be offered a scale. I replied 'strongly opposed' to these three questions just to make sure! Interestingly, the Herald did not appear to print the final results of these questions today, based on what I could find in the online version, even though the Herald reported the following on the 29th, based on meaningless partial results.
But some specific policy ideas found little favour, particularly his view that adopting out babies should be a more acceptable option than it is now. A majority of 74.5 per cent disagreed, while 15.7 per cent agreed.

The opposition to his policy of stopping women on the DPB getting any extra money if they became pregnant while on the benefit was 44.1 per cent. However, 46.9 per cent agreed with him.

Dr Brash said he would make it harder to get the sickness benefit - a view supported by 56.6 per cent and opposed by 33.6 per cent.
I wonder what the full results said? Given the final results of the poll showed greater support for the left, I would expect the percentages supporting Brash's policies to fall. One wonders what results would have ensured if they had asked relevant, but different questions. "Do you support refusing extra help to families with newborn babies on account of the family gaining its primary income from the DPB?"

I never regarded Brash's advocacy of encouraging adoption to be a serious proposal, as I believe this is far more likely to be a sop to anti-abortion National supporters who regard Brash's socially liberal instincts with suspicion. But they need not worry, as Brash is likely to flip flop further, based on this voting record on the Civil Union Bill.

I would be very keen to get my hands on the full statistical breakdown of this poll, as I would like to have a closer look at the questions and the order of questions. ATM I am relying on memory and a few notes I scribbed while I was on the phone. Does anyone know of a link of the web where I might be able to access this?

Left and Lefter
suggests an alternative poll based on google results. I wonder why Labourities Just Left and NZ Political Comments fail to list the Alliance in their reports of the poll, but include the Progressives. The Alliance (0.6%) got three times as much support as the Progs!(0.2%) - grin! - :)

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At 10:34 am, Blogger Greg Stephens said...

because the Progressives will get into Parliament, the Alliance will not. I don't provide anything for small random parties either.

At 6:03 pm, Blogger Joe Hendren said...

I only meant to give you and Jordon some good natured hassling, but your rationale does not make sense. Destiny (and possibly Act) won't get into parliament either, but you include them....

At 8:30 pm, Blogger Greg Stephens said...

Destiny get mentioned because the fact that 1% of the country support them scares the sh*t out of me. I put ACT there because they have a 50/50 chance of getting in and are currently in.
Also most of the time I repeat the numbers given by the news item. I don't go out of my way to get the numbers, it isn't worth it for those random little parties.


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