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Significant fallout from Dirty Politics allegations

Research Results

Significant fallout from Dirty Politics allegations
28 Aug 14

Dirty politics ... costing National up to 3.8% of its pre-publication support
Large numbers of New Zealanders are aware of and talking about the issues raised as a result of the publication of Nicky Hager’s book, Dirty Politics, according to results of an August 18-25 HorizonPoll of 1,752 adults nationwide.

By large majorities they find dirty politics unacceptable and would prefer them not to be practised:

• They are unacceptable to 59.9% of adults and acceptable to 25.8% as a part of overall political behaviour.

81.9% of adults prefer that dirty politics were not practised in New Zealand.

73.7% believe that, if it is true as alleged in the book that a member of the staff of Prime Minister John Key’s office accessed confidential information held in a Labour Party web site, the behaviour is unacceptable.

They tend to believe the Prime Minister knew in advance about attacks on political opponents planned by pro-National bloggers and that the bloggers did not act totally independently of the National-led government.

More than half of adult New Zealanders (53.1%) believe mainstream media (newspapers, radio and television) have failed to act impartially in relation to material provided to them by bloggers. While 40.9% are not sure whether the media’s coverage of all aspects of the allegations made in Mr Hager’s book has been adequate, there is a small tendency to believe that it has not been.

Respondents tend to support the use of hacked e-mails and social media information of blogger Cameron Slater in the public interest than oppose it based on the information allegedly being private and obtained illegally.

More want the Prime Minister to launch an independent inquiry into the book’s allegations than not take this action (45.9% support, 24.7% oppose). However, more think he should stay in office rather than resign over the allegations made in the book.

Large numbers of New Zealanders are feeling angry, disappointed and disgusted as a result of the Prime Minister’s management of the issues raised in the book in the 12 days from its first publication.

The results indicate the Prime Minister, John Key, has made 135,700 people who voted National in 2011 feel angry, or disappointed or disgusted. This is 12.8% of those who voted National at the last election.

The survey finds

• While voting intention shifts from poll to poll, National’s level of retention this year of those who said they intended to cast their party vote for the National Party at the next election had been particularly strong in polls conducted by Horizon up to the July/August survey (before the Hager book’s release), at around 92%. In this survey, conducted after the release of the “Dirty Politics” book, National retains only 82% of those who said in July/August they would give their party vote to the National Party. Note that around 8% of those who said in the July/August poll they would vote for National are now undecided about which party they will give their party vote to.
• National appears to have at least 3% less support overall from the 18+ population following the book’s publication in comparison with its position prior to the publication. Analysis poll by poll since March 2014 indicates that the decline is probably greater, around 3.8% less support.

• While it remains the strongest political party in terms of support from the 18+ population, if the current party vote intentions hold National would have insufficient party votes to be able to govern alone after the election.

This is a change from earlier results showing it might have an opportunity to govern alone.

This issue also appears to have driven up Green party support among younger voters and resulted in New Zealand First having sufficient support to determine which main party would lead a coalition government after September 20.

Horizon Research conducted the survey independently as part of its public-interest research series.

Respondents are members of the HorizonPoll online panel, recruited to match the New Zealand population aged 18+.

The survey is weighted by age, gender, region, personal income, educational qualification level, and party vote 2011 to provide a representative sample of the New Zealand adult population. At a confidence level of 95%, the maximum margin of error is +/- 2.3%.


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