Finally, some movement in the polling

I’ve updated my polling forecast with the latest data from the only NZ public poll released in April so far (seriously, we’re less than 150 days out from a general election and there has only been one poll this month).

We’re finally starting to see some movement in the forecast, although it is still fairly minor. While NZ First are moving up in their party vote, it’s not yet enough to net them another List MP.

The Greens however have just nudged high enough to grab another List MP, at the expense of National.

This won’t have a significant impact. To form Government on the numbers predicted before this poll was released, Bill English would have had to rely on support from NZ First, that does not change).

Can we just have some more polls, please?

UK Labour lift their digital game

At the last British general election the Conservatives spent £1.2m on Facebook advertising, while the Labour Party only spent £16k [source]. It still astounds me just how little focus Labour put into paid digital advertising, but then you look at the results.

It looks like, despite all their other problems, Labour may have learnt from their mistake.

The Guardian reports that they have built a custom tool called Promote which integrates with their voter database and Facebook Ads.

While it’s short on details, it sounds like they’re trying to make it as easy for a local campaign to target Facebook Ads as it would be for them to cut a list for a phone bank or door knock.

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the party will actually redirect more of their central resources into digital advertising, but this investment in infrastructure is a very good sign.

 

NZ politicians on Facebook

I know it’s a cliché, but in the 2017 NZ general election, social media is going to be more important than ever. Political parties are able to communicate with fewer voters than ever before through traditional means, and the vast majority of the country actively uses social networks.

Any serious candidate or party needs to have a digital communications strategy.

For a little over a year now I’ve been collecting public information on a variety of politicians and their parties via Facebook’s Open Graph API. I’ve got scripts that are constantly running, recording what politicians are posting online, and how many people are liking them.

And now, you can see the data for yourself.

The data is automatically updated every day. It shows how many people like each page, how many people have liked it in the last week, a metric that Facebook uses called Talking About, which basically shows how many people are engaging with the page, and how many posts they’ve done on Facebook.

Please let me know if I’ve missed any public Facebook pages off this, and I’ll add them asap. Note that it takes a week for the new likes metric to be updated, so that’s why it shows zero for some.

 

Labour, Greens and Māori edge up

The latest One News Colmar Brunton poll has been released, I’ve updated my model accordingly.

The updated predicted outcome is exactly the same, in that each party would still get the same number of seats as they did before this poll was released. However, some movement has been observed.

Labour is now up 0.5 per centage points, so they must be very close to getting a 35th seat. Also, both the Greens and Māori Party are also observing an increasing trend in support with both of them increasing 0.4 percentage points and also being close to pickup an additonal seat.

I think this result shows the value in a model like this – significant new movement will still be observed, but will only end up showing in the results if it eventually forms part of a trend. In essence, we’re doing what we can to nullify “rogue polls”.

2017 Election Forecast released

There are few things that annoy me more than how blogs and Twitter light up after the release of a single political poll.

Pundits will make the huge inferences from statistically insignificant changes, or attribute meaning to an event that occurred after polling finished.

Today I’m proud to release something I’ve been working on for a while, a forecast model for the 2017 New Zealand General Election. It is a mathematical model for analysing polling and determining what Parliament would look like if an election were held today.

Check it out here or via the permalink at the menu on the top of this page.

It takes all available public polling, adjusts for historical data (for instance, known bias’ that individual pollsters have), produces a weighted average based on recency and sample size.

It then produces an estimate of each party’s seat count in the Parliament.

No doubt people will have a ton of questions, hopefully the following will answer them. If you have any further questions, or ideas or suggestions, please either leave them on here, or email me directly on patrick.leyland@gmail.com

Lastly, my thanks to the many people on both sides of the Tasman (you know who you are) who have helped me with the coding, maths, and design. Hopefully you’ll find it useful!

Details

Continue reading “2017 Election Forecast released”

National MP Calculator

I have to admit I’ve been a bit surprised with the response to my Labour MP calculator – it seems to be a hit, even though at the moment it’s only working with a modified version of the current caucus rankings.

I’ve now plugged the National Party’s caucus rankings and selected candidates into the back end, and have the first version of my National MP calculator working…

Calculate potential National MPs

There a bug with the gender calculations for the Nats, so I’ve removed it for the time being. They don’t have a constitutional gender requirement so it will create far fewer headaches for them, but I’ll include it as soon as I can get it working as a point of comparison.

Also, the Nats haven’t finished many of their selections, and have been very sporadic about issuing releases when candidates are selected. If you know of any National candidates that have been endorsed but are missing from my list, please let me know.

Enjoy!

Labour MP calculator – NEW AND IMPROVED!

Thanks to everyone who provided feedback on the first version of the Labour MP calculator I released on the weekend – I’m glad that so many people found it interesting.

I’ve re-engineered it to use a different framework, and it is now capable of producing lists for both Labour and National and showing exactly who would be elected.

Take a look at version two here.

At the moment the List it is simulating is the current Labour caucus rankings – but as soon as the actual list is released I’ll get that up, and I’ll continue to add electorate candidates as they’re selected.

Likewise, I’m working on a version for National which will have their list as soon as it’s released.

One thing jumped out at me while putting this together – just how hard it will be for the Labour Party to meet it’s constitutionally mandated gender balance. At this stage, with so many safe electorates going to men, virtually all of the winnable list slots will have to go to women. There are still two “marginal” seats still to be selected, New Lynn and Auckland Central, which will almost certainly have to go to women if the party is to meet it’s new 50/50 rule.

As always, if you’ve got any feedback please pass it along either via a comment here or via email (patrick.leyland@gmail.com)

Labour MP calculator

Now that Labour has concluded most of it’s selections for winnable seats at the 2017 election (New Lynn, Auckland Central, and Ohariu are the outstanding ones), we can start looking at what the composition of caucus will be like following the election.

I’ve been brushing up on my coding skills and made a calculator that lets you determine the makeup of caucus based on various party vote percentages and electorate results.

View the calculator here

Having had a play around with the numbers, one thing really stands out to me. If you assume that the electorate seats and party vote share are reasonably static, Labour is well behind it’s rule of a 50/50 gender balance after the 2017 election. It’s going to make the list selection process very interesting.

Please let me know if you’ve got any ideas for changes, or notice something that needs correcting.

 

 

2017 candidates

Just like in 2014, NZ Labour is leading the way with early selections, they now have seven electorate candidates in place. There is no word on when National’s electorate selections will begin, though I’d be surprised if they started this year.

As I did for the last NZ election, I’ve created a page that lists candidates who have been officially endorsed by a major party to contest an electorate for the 2017 New Zealand election. You can view it here and there is a link permanently at the top of this blog.

Incumbents with a strike through their name indicate they have announced they are not standing for re-election in the seat.

Candidates with a public Facebook Page have that linked from their name.

I’ll also be creating public Facebook lists to keep track of the candidates, you can follow the lists so you can see what they’re up to on Facebook without having to like all their pages. Here’s the first one:

NZ Labour 2017 candidates

If you have any updates for these lists please contact me at patrick.leyland@gmail.com

How the capital was won

lester

Yesterday’s New Zealand local government elections were great for Labour right around the country.

As well as many council and local board successes, the mayors of Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Whanganui and Rotorua are now all Labour members. This means that 49% of the New Zealand population has a Labour mayor – which is very impressive.

In Wellington, Labour did particularly well. Not only did they retain the Lambton Ward council seat vacated by Mark Peck’s retirement, but they gained a seat in the Northern Ward with Peter Gilberd. And of course, Wellington has it’s first Labour mayor in 24 years in Justin Lester.

Lester’s campaign defied expectations and won with an impressive majority of almost 7,000 votes.

How did Labour get over the line? Highly targeted field work, and a lot of it. It’s not a new concept, but one that has just seen it’s best ever New Zealand execution. It’s a model that has seen extensive use in Australia in recent years (Victoria 2014, Federal 2016 and NT 2016 in particular) and has now proven it’s worth many times over. Sydney University’s Stephen Mills has written an excellent summary of the use of field campaigning in Australia in 2016 – check it out.

Firstly, Wellington Labour recruited an army of over 250 volunteers to knock on doors and make phone calls. Around 40% of the volunteers weren’t party members – they were regular Wellingtonians that were mobalised into action instead of rusted on branch members who would prefer to spend their time debating policy remits. From what I’m told almost all of the campaign’s regular canvassers had never taken political action like this before.

This small army, plus Labour’s candidates themselves, had over 60,000 personal conversations with voters during the campaign (these are phone calls or door knocks, just meeting someone at a street stall at a market doesn’t count)

Justin Lester personally spoke to 14% of the people who voted (the campaigns are given lists of people who have and haven’t voted, very useful to try and encourage people to vote who haven’t yet done so). Think about that for a second. If you voted in the Wellington City Council election, there was a 14% chance that the Labour candidate spoke to you – either over the phone or on your door step – that’s impressive.

And while the campaign went on for months, 10,000 of Labour’s 60,000 voter contacts were made in the last two weeks – when undecided voters were making up their minds and people finally got around to voting.

No doubt more analysis will be done of the results (particularly once the special votes are counted and included), but from the result one thing is clear: people power made a huge difference in the Wellington City Council election.

Labour’s newly created Community Action Network has 250 trained recruits who know how to talk to voters and make persuasive conversations.

This is how you win.