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Students Will Switch Votes Based On Loans Policy

17 August 2005

New Survey: Students Will Switch Votes Based On Loans Policy

Research by New Zealand's newest online listening company shows people with student loans score Labour's student loan policy well ahead of National's.

The first online Carlin Valenti Election Forum gives Labour's policy an average score of 4.4 out of 6, compared with 2.9 for National's. On a scale of 0 to 6, six indicates totally policy support.

Labour's policy also rates 3.6 out of 6 for those with loans who state they are more likely to vote Labour as a result of its policy.

By contrast, students with a loan express a weaker likelihood of switching to National because of its student loan policy (1.7 out of 6).

Key to the Carlin Valenti Election Forum is the desire to solicit insight into New Zealanders views rather than the top line data collected by traditional pollsters.

A sample of 2469 comments received from people with student loans includes these:

'I am more in favour of the Labour policy regarding student loans. Having a large loan myself with a lot of interest gaining up I would most likely leave New Zealand after my studies.' Mabel (21)

'In general I feel both parties are electioneering rather then promoting responsible manifestos but because of my vested personal interests I will be voting labour. Although this isn't the sole reason I would be voting labour it has certainly eased my mind when it comes to voting for them.' – Ben (28)

'Students (predominantly young ones) are able to borrow monies to maintain comfortable lifestyles. We see it here in Dunedin, where pubs, liquor outlets, video rental businesses, restaurants and takeaways thrive on the amount of money students have at their disposal to patronise these places. Student loans should be for: 1) study fees; and 2) a basic weekly allowance to cover their rent and food.' – Elaine (50)

The research of the possible impact on voting intentions was conducted between August 10 and 11. Some 2200 people aged 18 plus were surveyed using a new online consultation service, sponsored by the public relations and marketing company, Carlin Valenti, and run by Buzz Channel Limited.

The survey of the student loans policies' impact has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.09%.

The survey shows Labour's student loans policy has strongest appeal among Labour and Green voters (4.9 and 4.3) and weak traction among NZ First, United and National supporters.

Leading New Zealand researcher, Duncan Stuart, says the survey shows Labour's policy will have more effect in shifting Green and Maori supporters back to Labour.

"The loser – and this is supported by other surveys – appears to be the Green party," he says. "Green supporters strongly support the Labour policy and are almost as strong as Labour supporters in saying the policy makes them more likely to vote Labour."

Respondents are among thousands registered with the 'Buzz.ThePeople' channel to take part in online research and communicate with specific groups of decision makers. Nearly half of the Carlin Valenti Election Forum respondents wanted their comments sent directly to parties they specified. These are now being sent directly to the appropriate decision makers.

"The Buzz channel gives people the opportunity to make their point of view count. For the first time the person living on a farm in the South Island has the same opportunity as someone in central Auckland to put their views across to those in power," says Mary Vance from Buzz Channel. "What is great about the model is that it works both ways as the decision makers also want to know what the public are thinking."

People are invited to join the panel and have their say at www.buzzthepeople.co.nz

Respondents to the online surveys are in the draw for prizes, but the panellists take part in research and dialogue only. Buzz.ThePeople is not used for commercial promotions.

The general election forum service aims to quickly delve into issues in more depth than traditionally slower and more costly telephone surveys. Results are scientifically weighted by Mr Stuart's research company, Kudos-Dynamics.

Online surveys in recent UK elections proved the most accurate.

Here, Mr Stuart says online surveys tend to deliver very similar overall responses and illustrate some underlying attitudes and thinking of the population at large.

For Mr Stuart's full reports on the Carlin Valenti Election Forum on student loans policies' voting impact and party support, members of Buzz.ThePeople can go to their log in area at www.buzzthepeople.co.nz. Other interested people can contact Buzz Channel to get a copy of the results.

Further panel surveys are planned during the lead up to the September 17 election. Anyone can register to participate in the panel by joining at www.buzzthepeople.co.nz



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