Political Polls

Two recent political polls with hugely different results.

Fairfax-Nielsen questioned 1130 people, and found just 11% undecided.  The DomPo says about this poll:

A snapshot of the public mood after Helen Clark’s election-date announcement shows it would take a huge swing to Labour for her to win a fourth term.

Which, on this evidence, seems fair comment with a margin of error of 3%.

Over at Newswire, the website for Whitireia Journalism School, a poll I took part in had very different results.  We called 1147 people randomly selected from the Wellington phone book last week, of whom 770 answered the call and 570 agreed to take part.  In our poll, the undecideds – 94% of whom intend to vote – out-numbered those voting for major parties Labour and National combined.  And our margin of error was 3.5%.

So our poll has National ahead of Labour by just 2%, with 44% of voters yet to decide.  The Greens were the only minor party to make the 5% threshold, but if we assume Jim Anderton, Peter Dunne and Rodney Hide will all get back in, there will still be plenty of coalition partners around.  And of course, the Maori Party will definitely return to parliament with some if not all of the Maori seats.

How is it that two polls have produced such different results?  Newswire was unable to match the DomPo’s certainty in terms of Labour struggling:

THE ELECTION could be a much closer race between National and Labour than recent polls show, if a survey of Wellingtonians this week is any indication.

We’ll just have to wait and see – but these polls may need to be taken with a rather large grain of salt.

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