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Poll measures vote switching driven by Ardern leadership

Poll measures vote switching driven by Ardern leadership

Horizon Research
30 August 2017

Labour’s leadership change has potentially shifted 11% of the 2014 National Party vote to Labour, while 2% of Labour's 2014 voters are switching to National.

The choice of Jacinda Ardern as Labour leader has had its biggest effect on the Green Party, with more 2014 Green Party voters now saying they will vote for Labour than say they will vote again for the Green Party.

An August 11-15 Vote Switching poll by Horizon Research finds, among those who are both registered to vote and 100% likely to vote:

11% of 2014 National Party voters – around 127,600 people - indicating a move to Labour for the next election. 2% of Labour’s 2014 voters – around 10,100 people - indicated they would vote National this election, which gives National a nett loss to Labour of around 117,400 voters.
(Based on the number of voters for each party in 2014, this represents a 10% nett switch from National to Labour).

59% of 2014 Green Party voters are now saying they will be voting for other parties in the 2017 general election. And nearly 8 in 10 of that group say they will now be voting for the Labour Party, with just over 3 in 10 saying that because of the recent benefit disclosures by Metiria Turei and her subsequent resignation as co-leader they were less likely to vote Green and nearly 7 in 10 indicating the change in Labour leadership has made them more likely to vote Labour.

• Loyalty among New Zealand First 2014 voters has dropped 10% to 72% between May and August Horizon polls. Labour’s leadership change is driving the change. However, New Zealand First potential gains from other parties are larger than the potential losses and this has strengthened the overall New Zealand First position.

Voter numbers projected in this report are based on the Electoral Commission’s Official Count Results for the 2014 New Zealand general election. The poll is of 959 adults nationwide representing the New Zealand 18+ population at the most recent census. At a 95% confidence level the maximum margin of error on the overall result is +/- 3.2%. The analysis shown in this release is based on a sub-sample of 860 respondents who said they were both registered to vote and 100% likely to vote.

The survey complies with Research Association New Zealand political polling code.

Horizon will be publishing results from this survey for preferred coalition partnerships and Prime Minister.

Party vote share polls are being conducted before the September 23 general election.

An election with significant Party Vote change from smaller parties?

Party vote switching patterns show that, among those who are registered to vote and say they are 100% likely to vote, 81% of people who voted for the Labour, National, and ACT New Zealand parties – around 1,415,000 voters - are likely to vote for the same party again in 2017. 72% of those who voted for New Zealand First in 2014 are likely to do so again.

Among those who voted for any other party, however, only around 25% expect to be voting for the same party again.

Around 79% of those who voted for parties in the current Government said will vote for those parties again. But on current switching intentions, parties in the current government coalition are likely to lose around 211,600 voters and gain 60,300 – a nett loss of 151,300 votes.

67% of those who voted for the Labour or Green parties in 2014 said they will vote for those parties again. However, there is a potential movement of 15% of the 2014 voters for these parties between the parties – 119,500 from Green to Labour and 25,500 from Labour to Green - a nett benefit for Labour from switching between these parties of around 94,000 voters.

Voter loyalty

Results for voting questions asked by Horizon in November 2016, March 2017 and May 2017 have been used to calculate voter loyalty to the party they voted for in 2014 for comparison with the results of the August 2017 survey. The results indicate that vote switching is affecting all parties – positively or negatively - but with a particularly negative impact on the Green Party and a strong positive impact on the Labour Party vote.

Results for the 4 main parties follow.

Green Party on the slide

In December 2016, around 81% of those who had voted for the Green Party in 2014 (and said they were registered and 100% likely to vote in 2017) were expecting to vote for them again. By early 2017, that support had fallen to 59%, then picked up again in May 2017 – but not to the 2016 level.

By August 2017 Green Party support from their 2014 voters had dropped significantly, with just 33% expecting to vote for the party again this year. By comparison, 46% of 2014 Green Party voters now expect to give their party vote to Labour in the upcoming election.

Among 2014 Green Party voters, 24% felt the recent benefit disclosures by Metiria Turei and her subsequent resignation as co-leader made them less likely to vote for the Green Party. It did not change the feelings of 37% of them towards the party and it consolidated the votes of 28% of 2014 Green Party voters, who said they were now more likely to vote for the Green Party or would definitely now vote for the Green Party.

However, 59% of 2014 Green Party voters are now saying they will be voting for other parties in the 2017 general election. And nearly 8 in 10 of that group say they will now be voting for the Labour Party, with just over 3 in 10 saying that because of the recent benefit disclosures by Metiria Turei and her subsequent resignation as co-leader they were less likely to vote Green.

But the loss of voters is not solely related to the effects of the recent benefit disclosures by Metiria Turei and her subsequent resignation as co-leader. 69% of 2014 Green Party voters said that Jacinda Ardern becoming the Labour Party Leader made them either more likely or definitely intend to vote for the Labour Party in the 2017 election.

Among those 2014 Green Party voters who now intend to vote for Labour, only 4% say that Jacinda Ardern as Labour leader has made no difference to how they feel about the Labour Party. 96% said the change of leadership has made them definitely vote for Labour and 41% more likely to vote for Labour, suggesting that this has been the primary factor in their change of vote, with Metiria Turei’s actions having a contributory effect rather than being the main driver.

National Party

In December 2016, 82% of those who had voted for the National Party in the 2014 general election told us they would vote National again in 2017. That survey ran from 2 to 11 December 2016, straddling John Key’s resignation announcement on 5 December 2016. A subsequent December 2016 Horizon survey showed a clear preference by National Party voters for Bill English to be the next National Party leader.

By March 2017, 72% of 2014 National Party voters were expecting to vote again for National, but by May, this was down to 65%.

August 2017 has seen an increase to 80% among those say they are registered and 100% likely to vote, but has also seen 11% of 2014 National Party voters – around 127,600 people - indicating a move to Labour for the next election. 2% of Labour’s 2014 voters – around 10,100 people - indicated they would vote National this election, which gives National a nett loss to Labour of around 117,400 voters.

A further 0.5% of 2014 National Party voters – around 6,100 people - indicated that they would be voting for the Green Party in 2017, but with 2% of 2014 Green Party voters indicating they would vote for National in 2017, the nett loss to the Green Party is negligible.

1% of 2014 National Party voters – around 9,300 people - are likely to vote for parties that are generally shown in recent polls to have little possibility of being in parliament following the next election.

The benefit disclosures by Metiria Turei and her subsequent resignation as co-leader had little effect on the National Party’s 2014 voters.

However, the elevation of Jacinda Ardern to Labour leader had a significant effect; the potential movement of voters from National to Labour can be directly attributed to the leadership change. 57% of those who expected to change their vote from National to Labour said they would definitely do because of the leadership change, while the other 43% said it made them more likely to vote for Labour. None of them said they had not changed their view of Labour as a result of the leadership change.

The move from National to Labour is disproportionately female; the survey indicates that 46% of those who voted for the National Party in 2014 were female, but 53% of those intending to change their vote from National to Labour were female.

Labour Party – on the climb

The Labour Party experienced a gradual improvement in same party vote intention from December 2016. It now shows an 81% same party vote among 2014 Labour Party voters, an improvement from May 2017 following - and probably related to - the leadership change.

Vote shifting to parties which are currently in the Government coalition is primarily to the Maori Party, who could expect to see around 19,700 Labour voters change allegiance - but could also expect almost the same number of 2014 Maori Party voters change their party vote to Labour. Around 26,400 Labour voters could change their votes to New Zealand First and 10,100 are likely to change to the National Party.

3% of 2014 Labour Party voters – around 18,500 people - are likely to vote for parties that are generally shown in recent polls to have little possibility of being in parliament following the next election.

Labour, however, is set to gain more voters overall from those parties than it loses to them.

As noted in the commentary on the Green and National Parties, Labour has benefited significantly from its leadership change – and, to a lesser extent, from the benefit disclosures by Metiria Turei and her subsequent resignation as co-leader of the Green Party.

On the current figures, Labour could expect to draw around 136,600 of those who voted for the National Party in 2014 – a nett gain from National of 117,400 voters - plus 119,500 of those who voted for the Green Party – a nett gain of 94,400 voters.

New Zealand First

After having the highest levels of potential same-party voting from December 2016 to May 2017, New Zealand First’s same-party vote dropped in August 2017, with the drop mostly benefitting the Labour Party.

As with the shift of National voters to Labour, female 2014 New Zealand First voters are more likely to be intending to shift to Labour than male New Zealand First voters. 46% of those expecting to shift from New Zealand First to Labour are female, while the survey indicates that 38% of New Zealand First voters in 2014 were female.

It is largely the change of Labour Party leadership that is driving the shift of New Zealand First voters to Labour. Of those intending to change their vote from New Zealand First to the Labour Party, 38% said that because of the leadership change they would now definitely vote Labour, while a further 42% said the change meant they were more likely to vote for Labour.

20% of those intending to switch from New Zealand First to Labour said that the leadership change had no impact on how they viewed the Labour Party.

Maori Party

The sub-sample for the Maori Party result is small and the figures are provided as an indication.
Same-party votes for the Maori Party dropped significantly from May 2017.

56% of those who gave their 2014 party vote to the Maori Party said they expected to give their party vote to Labour.

While that may sound dramatic, the 3% of Labour Party voters who now intend to give their party vote to the Maori Party is slightly greater in volume than the loss of Maori Party voters to Labour.

Conservative Party

The sub-sample for the Conservative Party result is small and these figures are provided as an indication.

Over 95,000 people voted for the Conservative Party in the 2014 general election.

Only 15% - around 14,700 people - intend to vote Conservative again. 18% - around 17,000 people - don’t know yet who they will vote for, while 53% - around 50,500 voters – said they expect to vote for New Zealand First.

Around 9,400 will probably vote for the National Party this election.

Sample and method:

This online survey is of 959 members of Horizon Research’s national panel, which represents of the New Zealand population 18 years of age and over, and who had not participated in political questions in the previous seven months. Respondents in a stratified sample were invited to participate by email, with a reminder email sent to those who had not participated. The stratified sample was weighted to match national demographics for age, gender and education level.

All the respondents were existing members of Horizon’s panels and did not include any new panel members joining during the course of the survey. Horizon’s panels have been recruited and maintained to represent the New Zealand population at the 2013 Census.

The questions on voting formed the first question set of an omnibus survey. Responses were received between 11 and 15 August 2017, with 67% of responses received on the first day of the survey period.

Results shown in this summary are for 860 respondents who indicated that they were registered to vote and were 100% likely to vote. 830 of them gave a particular party they were likely to vote for and could be regarded as “decided” voters.

The survey has an overall margin of error of ±3.2% at a 95% confidence level. Sub-sample margins of error for 2014 voters for each party commented on in the summary are shown below. These sub-sample margins of error shown should be borne in mind when interpreting the results.

The survey complies with the Research Association New Zealand code for political polls.

Party Vote 2014 Sub-sample margin of error
ACT New Zealand 30.2%
Conservative Party 21.3%
Green Party 8.7%
Internet-MANA 26.7%
Labour Party 7.1%
Maori Party 25.8%
National Party 5.3%
New Zealand First Party 11.5%

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