Gareth Morgan is right, for once – public polls don’t help TOP at all

At TOP we commissioned a market research company to investigate voters attitudes towards our party.

Their polling indicates that 1.5% of New Zealanders are committed TOP voters, no matter what. This aligns well with the landline poll results. It indicates a further 3% are “most likely” to vote TOP. This takes us to 4.5%. This result aligns well with our internal internet-based polling. Finally, the market research indicates another 11% are “considering” voting TOP.

That isn’t bad for a new party; an independent, market research-based finding that a possible maximum of 15.5% could vote for TOP. To make the 5% threshold we only need to convert 1 in 20 of those that are considering voting for us.

So – what is the biggest barrier to converting enough of this last 11% into a result at the ballot box? The wide promotion of published polls during the election campaign.

One of the key concerns of the uncommitted 14% of voters that are possible for TOP, is their fear of a wasted vote. It’s here where the published polls become a self-fulfilling prophecy. A poll simply reflects a point in time who people would vote for, and so for TOP, those polls pick up the committed 1.5% vote. But – and this is where the widespread misinterpretation of poll numbers actually influences the election outcome – the public interpret that as how many votes TOP will get on the day. Which of course is wrong – it’s how many are committed if the election were held today.

By being interpreted as how many votes TOP will get on election day, this number discourages those that believe TOP won’t make 5%. Of course we have no idea how many of the uncommitted this is, but it is absolutely a negative influence.

Widely published and promoted polls rapidly become a self-fulfilling prophecy. They are particularly damaging to parties trying to break in, that have to overcome the 5% barrier in order to begin their build.

It’s not just TOP that suffers this problem.  ACT also face the same reasoning among its theoretical supporters.   A lot of voters don’t like the idea of wasted vote.

Incumbent parties like ACT must not leave it until the last 3 months of the term to try and build support.  It’s the other two years and nine months that should happen.   They should go into an election  on 4%, or more.

But for parties trying to crack MMP from outside of parliament, it is indeed almost impossible.   Colin Craig tried and failed.  Kim Dotcom tried and failed.  And Gareth Morgan will fail too.

In the end, any party will have a 1-2% natural support base, but to carve out your fair slice from the undecided voters, you must build a picture in their mind for years.

In the case of Gareth Morgan, he’s seen as the cat killing man who quite likes to tell people how to live their lives and is not altogether put off by the idea of a North Korean-like government.   That’s the message he sent us for two and a half years. And that’s why he’s not “the crazy cat guy trying to start a party”.

As for using a “market research” company to figure out that over 10% of undecided voters “might” consider TOP for a party vote… I hope he didn’t spend too much money for that advice.

The Internet party and the Conservative party all did the same thing:  whine.  When the conditions are well known prior to starting a political movement.  It is therefore up to the new people to overcome this hurdle, instead of whine about its existence.

There is a reason there is a 5% rule for MMP participation:  We have enough nutters in parliament already.

 


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