The Psychology of Polls

Cactus Kate explains what it is like to be a volunteer when the polls are telling you that the voters think your party is tits:

Like the report I have heard of a Labour volunteer in New Plymouth visiting a staunch National household. She was told not to waste a leaflet on the house as it would go straight in the bin. The Labour deliverer said the house might as well have one as she liked Mr Key as well. That is Labour’s loyal volunteers are still sticking the hard shoe leather yards in but their hearts are with John Key or more importantly really – not with Goff.

Labour’s poor unfortunate volunteers march the streets dropping pamphlets, stuffing envelopes and representing the Party to the public. For a team that is presently being thrashed. Not just by National but by the Greens. A worldwide political brand of nothing much but cutesy wrapped enviro-nutcases who spread fear in events that are highly unlikely never to happen and even if they are, their only solution is to tax us more or make us more primitive.

I have been a volunteer for a Party that is at 1% in polls so I know just how gut-spewingly demoralizing it can be. Labour will never be at 1% in the polls, but it is one of the two major parties and is hemorrhaging support currently such that right now it is their equivalent of. Labour are tribal volunteers and the best and most loyal ACT members and volunteers were former Labour members. Unlike prissy National ones who only were really interested in supporting the Party when it is perceived to be “winning”, Labour are used to getting dirty and in amongst it walking the streets and Unions for support.

Labour is now stuck going into an election campaign post-Rugby World Cup with a Leader who once actually considered being the leader of a minor party from the other side of the political spectrum. A Leader doing so ineptly, that he cannot shake talk almost daily by the media of a coup. A Leader so nice but boring that his Herald profile hasn’t managed more than a run of instant fish and chip wrappers. In the many recesses recently, his MP’s get the chance to go back and have second thoughts about their time under his leadership. In the House his performance is often absent and the ebullient government owns him frequently with minimal effort. The same Labour MP’s have to return from a thrashing in Wellington on Tuesday to Thursday to motivate volunteers and supporters in their electorates. They have to all have the veneer of being happy with how things are going. It is becoming clear that the glue holding the veneers up is cracking and all that is left are gaps as large as the one between Phil Goff’s front teeth.

That sounds moral sapping, only the most sycophantic labour supporter will be able to shrug off those feelings. But Cactus sure does know how to twist teh knife:

Labour supporters, members and volunteers were promised a poll bump not a poll slump with their envy tax line-up. To be fair, I thought a CGT would have them rise in the polls as well, if for no other reason that it is an ultimate “eat the rich” sort of formula. They threw resources, time and a whole host of energy at the launch of their CGT policy. It was somewhat akin to blowing out in a game of rugby after 60 minutes and now they have 20 minutes left, their legs are all gone with the only reserve left on the bench being the slow slothy frame of Parekura Horomia who long since crushed the timber beneath him and is sitting in a pool of cold mud wondering when the KFC is being delivered. Labour seems to have nothing left to entice voters with.

Wednesday’s Fairfax poll deliciously broke down the support and found among “struggling households” Labour and National are level pegging at 39% and 38%. Worse is that among the same group a massive 42% prefer the often smarmy multi-millionaire John Key to the people’s champion Phil Goff at a ridiculously low 9.5%. And in Auckland, a city that voted a left-wing Mayor remember – National are polling a massive 65% to Labour’s 20%.

Even if Labour’s hierarchy can spin that these are just polls and the only one that matters is election day, the volunteers and loyal party supporters will soon turn themselves to the simple fact that Labour are getting killed by National and now the Greens and allegedly turning on themselves with factionalisation. They are on a losing side. And if they don’t put that out of their minds it will eat away at them. The polls are killing them.

Yes thepolls are killing them, but there are none so blind as the blindly loyal.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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