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Generation Jones is driving NZ Voter Volatility

11 September 2005

New Analysis Reveals Generation Jones is driving NZ Voter Volatility

A new analysis of recent New Zealand political polling reveals that the current voter vacillation is primarily driven by one demographic-- Generation Jones, the large generation between the Baby Boomers and Generation X. U.S. political analyst and consultant Jonathan Pontell, who conducted the study, said Generation Jones has the highest percentage of floating voters, which when combined with its huge size (29.8% of the electorate) is largely responsible for the volatility in the overall polling numbers. “Based on these new numbers, it seems clear that the winner on September 17 will be the party which is able to swing Jonesers to their side”, said Pontell.

The new analysis shows that Generation Jones is exhibiting strikingly similar voting patterns to those that were so influential in the Nov’04 U.S. and May’05 U.K. elections, where Generation Jones was widely reported by pollsters and media to be the decisive vote in both elections. Throughout those campaigns, Generation Jones had the highest percentage of floating voters among all generations.

Jonesers are likely to have an even bigger impact on the NZ election because Jonesers are a larger percentage of the electorate, and vote at higher rates (86% of all NZ Jonesers voted in the 2002 election, compared with 77% among all eligible NZ voters).

The new analysis was conducted by cross tabulating data from recent polling by TNS, DigiPoll, Colmar-Brunton, UMR, and BCR into the five NZ generations, and by gender within each generation. The five generations are: Generation Y (now 18-25 yr old), Generation X (26-38), Generation Jones (39-50), Baby Boomers (51-62), and Mature Generations (63+). Pontell noted that the standard practice of dividing the electorate into random age categories (e.g. 30-39, 40-49, etc.) obscures important generational differences. “These results provide an excellent example of why generational differences need to be studied more in an electoral context”, Pontell said.

During the NZ campaign, Generation Jones has had the highest percentage of “floating” voters, and has “swung” the most between the parties. Because of this generation’s high rate of vacillation, and with its large size, it has largely driven the volatility in the overall electorate. While Jonesers have repeatedly swung back and forth between the main parties, they typically have been evenly divided between Labour and National. At this point in the campaign, the overall closeness of the race is largely because of Generation Jones. The polling is generally showing the younger two generations leaning Labour, with the two older generations leaning National. Generation Jones is split down the middle, and it is likely that whichever party is able to pull this large, volatile generation to its side will win the election.

Here are a few examples of the data (more is available upon request):


Labour 44% 47% 39% 36% 37%

National 33% 35% 39% 41% 39%

(source: UMR’s most recent public poll, Aug.)


Labour 48% 42% 37% 30% 40%

National 27% 21% 36% 35% 29%

(source: TNS’s most recent poll, released Sept. 5)


Labour 52% 48% 40% 39% 33%

National 24% 34% 41% 45% 44%

(source: DigiPoll’s most recent poll, released Sept. 9)


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