Analysis: Roy Morgan manager defends *that* poll

The chattering class was quick to scoff when at the new Roy Morgan poll which showed a 10% jump for National (864 eligible voters were surveyed by phone).

There was eye-rolling from the left and the right, and I can see why: there were no political bombshells during the survey period (June 17 to early July) to warrant such a shift.

It was yet another violent mood swing in the Roy Morgan universe.

In a press release, executive chairman Gary Morgan pegged the Nats' bounce on John Key's announcement of a $1 billion housing infrastructure fund.

I'm not so sure. On closer inspection, the prime minister's announcement was not that sexy. The PM was merely giving councils another avenue to raise debt, and one that would only be marginally cheaper than further borrowing on their own account.

An NBR Business Pulse poll drew little enthusiasm either way (there was not a single comment after the result story). A day after being announced, the policy had already washed out of the news cycle and disappeared from social media chat. 

If he were based in Auckland, not Melbourne, I don't think the chairman would have headlined Mr Key's quickly-forgotten council debt speech.

I asked Mr Morgan if he was confident of the poll result. He didn't reply, but Roy Morgan poll manager Julian McCrann sent this response on his behalf:

 
We are very confident these results reflect a shift in voting intention in New Zealand towards the incumbent. Andrew Little has had nearly two years to cut through and even before this poll, had really made little headway.

The New Zealand economy is booming at present with Kiwis returning to the country after years of outflows across the Tasman.

Also, specifically with this poll we conducted some additional research during this period which indicates that Housing Affordability/ House prices/ Shortage of Houses/ Homeless etc. has increased significantly as an issue in New Zealand this year.

The announcement of the $1 billion housing infrastructure fund is perfectly timed to take advantage of this sentiment. There are a large number of Kiwis out there who believe they will see the benefit of this $1 billion infrastructure fund personally.

We will be releasing the latest Roy Morgan New Zealand Most Important Problems research (July 2016) early next week.

In the mean-time, here are the results from the last Most Important Problems in New Zealand research conducted in April. Even then one can see that Housing Issues were one of the most significant issues for New Zealanders.

The April survey found 9% of New Zealander named "Housing shortage/ Housing affordability" has the most serious issue facing the government. I'd actually say that finding is on the low-side. But there was nothing National did over the survey period that offered grounds for a huge poll shift. If anything, you could make the case that National should have dipped during the survey period, given the war of words between the Reserve Bank and the government that provoked uncertainty for homeowners and first-time buyers alike (although that might have missed most of the poll period).

Surveys between election cycles remain a pretty dodgy proposition.

Get full access to the NBR Rich List 2016, released July 28, by claiming your free 30-day trial to NBR ONLINE premium content at NBR.co.nz/free

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