Horizon has released a poll that is basically a “feelz” poll. It isn’t pretty reading for the Leader of the Opposition:

Prime Minister and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern is making New Zealanders feel far more proud, hopeful and pleased than National and Opposition leader Simon Bridges.

A long-running series of election studies in the United States has shown candidates who inspire more positive feelings than their opponents usually perform better in elections.

Horizon last compared how leaders made New Zealanders feel in 2011 when Prime Minister John Key was running against Opposition and Labour leader Phil Goff.

Key was seen to be more positive on a number of factors. His party won the election.

Horizon surveyed 1,076 adults nationwide, representing the 18+ population at the 2018 census, between January 24 and 28, 2020.

Results in the chart above show Mr Bridges is making more people feel concerned, nervous, angry, disgusted and bored than Ms Ardern.

However, the Prime Minister is disappointing 24%, Mr Bridges 23%.

Feelings differ among men and women.

On the key indicators of anger and hope, Ms Ardern makes 17% of men angry, 10% of women. Mr Bridges makes 20% of men angry, 18% of women.

Ms Ardern makes 42% of women feel hopeful, 29% of men. Mr Bridges makes 14% of women feel hopeful, 24% of men.

Feelings for both according to gender are in the table below.

They indicate that among both men and women Ms Ardern is eliciting more positive feelings than Mr Bridges across a range of indicators.

That is not terribly helpful for Simon Bridges and shows what is underpinning his negative favourable ratings. This is why it is very difficult for Simon Bridges to get any cut-through.

In my recent post, I challenged readers to provide me with some counter facts to my arguments. No one did. The attempts were pretty much “feelz”. Now we have a poll that shows what the “feelz” means for each leader.

National and their hardcore supporters can ignore the facts, ignore the history, ignore the polls and ignore reality, but the bottom line is this. Most voters think Simon Bridges is a bit of a dick, and while they may support National for now, they still think Simon Bridges is a bit of a dick. The only thing that is going to change as we approach the election is that Bridges is going to be more of a dick as he seeks relevance and National’s support will ebb away like it did in 2002 when they were led by another dick.

Facts are everything, so let’s look at these charts and have a good long think about what it means.

2002 election polls:

The BFD.

2005 election polls:

The BFD.

2008 election polling:

The BFD.

2011 election polling:

The BFD.

National averaged 51% in polling during the year, but slid away to 47% in the election, with John Key at his most popular.

The BFD.

2014 election polling:

The BFD.

This one was interesting, because National maintained an average of around 49% in the polls, under John Key, but slipped away by two points to finish at 47%.

2017 election polling:

The BFD.

2017 saw Labour cannibalise every party as they surged. This is the only chart that shows Labour gaining towards the end of the election cycle. It is an urban myth that National voters voted for NZ First, the chart proves that. If this is the rationale behind Bridges strategy then it is folly to begin with.

Key points to take away from these charts from history:

  • The main parties always slide in support in the last weeks of the campaign (2017 was the exception.)
  • The minor parties always surge. (2017 was the exception.)
  • No party has ever achieved 50%, the closest was John Key’s National in 2011, and that appears to be the high tide mark.
  • Jacinda Ardern saved Labour in 2017. National slid away dramatically in the last weeks.
  • National voters didn’t change to vote for NZ First in 2017. All parties, except Labour, slumped.

Of course Simon Bridges and National could achieve that which John Key failed to achieve, but it would require a historic upset of immense proportions. John Key enjoyed over 50% approval ratings when he achieved all of his victories, Simon Bridges can only dream of such ratings polling in single-digit figures for preferred PM ratings and negatively in favourable ratings.

Fortune favours the brave, but history shows that the pervading feelings of the electorate will overcome bravery and mow down those who charge over the top into heavy shelling and machine gunfire.

“Feelz” are ok, but one must always keep in the forefront of one’s mind the facts that history show us.

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