Herald’s “street poll” in Botany

Note: this post originally appeared on ‘Douglas to Dancing’, a blog I maintained from 2007-9 on the ACT New Zealand political party. The blog was an extension of the thesis I wrote about the Act Party in 2007, From Douglas to Dancing: explaining the lack of success of ACT New Zealand and evaluating its future prospects (PDF).

In 2005, ACT felt aggrieved by a One News poll which appeared to give Richard Worth a substantial lead over Rodney Hide. ACT’s claim was that respondents were confused by the wording of the question on the electorate vote, which asked for the preferred party of the candidate, rather than the candidate’s name. This gave the misleading impression that Worth was well in the lead.

Today the New Zealand Herald has published a street poll in Botany which seems questionable to me. For those of you who don’t know, ACT is standing its candidate Kenneth Wang in the new electorate. He is not on the party list and is aiming to promote a “two for one” deal as Hide did in Epsom in 2005, as the National candidate, Pansy Wong, is sufficiently high enough on the National list to remain in Parliament anyway.

Before reading on, check out the polling graphic and accompanying article. For the record, the poll appears to give Kenneth Wang 8%, Labour candidate Koro Tawa 13% and National candidate Pansy Wong 52%.

Here are the problems I see with the poll at a glance:

  • It’s not a genuine poll, but an unscientific street survey of just 100 people. While this gives some sense of “mood on the streets”, it’s certainly not the same as a random, telephone-based poll of a more substantive sample.
  • The party vote section of the graphic gives candidates’ names, when these should be in the electorate vote section. This could just be a layout error, or it could suggest participants were asked a confusing question, as in the 2005 TVNZ poll.
  • Kenneth Wang is attributed to New Zealand First! Again, just a layout error?

However, let me conclude by saying that just because the poll may be flawed it doesn’t necessarily mean that Wang is actually in the lead. Pansy Wong has been an MP for a long time and has a reputation of her own; moreover, she is running a concerted campaign of her own.

But we need an accurate poll to see really who is in front.

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