Opinion: Saying goodbye to landlines in 2021's first 1 NEWS-Colmar Brunton poll

Jessica Mutch McKay
Source: 1News

I’m a big fan of polls. I find them fascinating and love talking about them. Handy, given my current job.

The 1 NEWS political editor shares her insight into the weekend’s Northland poll result.

Polls are a snapshot in time and give us a flavour of how the public is feeling and allows us to see how policies and personalities are tracking. Political careers can live or die by polls. So, polls matter.

Ensuring our polls are credible and accurately reflect the wider thinking of the general electorate is absolutely vital.  

Political polling has changed over the years. 1 NEWS and Colmar Brunton are in our 26 th year of polling together and we have always sought to position ourselves at the forefront of the latest polling methods.

Our poll ahead of the last election was the most accurate of the media players and we can put that down to being the only media organisation polling regularly and using a 60/40 percentage split between mobile phone and landline calls.  

But our latest poll has ditched landlines. 1 NEWS and Colmar Brunton did some work over the 2020 election trialling mobiles and online polling to see if we could get a more accurate sample.

Across several trials we found the answer is yes. This latest poll was done using 50% randomly generated mobile phone numbers and 50% online from New Zealanders who have signed up for market research studies.

The polls will still talk to 1000 people. By calling people randomly the sample will be robust and the interviews online are done carefully to make sure they are representative of all New Zealanders.

Then all the results are weighted – just like usual. The margin of error is still plus or minus 3.1% with a 95% confidence level.

People just aren’t using landlines like they used to. I know I haven’t had one since I was Europe Correspondent five-years-ago and I call and text my grandmother on her mobile phone. Pollsters are finding people pick up their mobile phone more regularly so it’s easier to get in touch.

Polls are expensive, so not many media organisations do them any more. 1 NEWS polls consistently in non-election years and then we poll weekly leading up to the election. Consistency is key.

Polls hold a lot of power around this place. Sir John Key was always hungry for poll numbers and eagerly snaffled them up. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern plays it more low key but enjoys a good poll.

Winston Peters had a famous distrust for polls (except for his internal polling) but he’d have been well advised to follow them more closely last year.

They’ve played a part in political history and will continue to shape the political landscape.

We will continue to seek ways to ensure our polling is as accurate as it can be.

Watch 1 NEWS at 6 tonight for the first 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll of 2021, with further coverage on 1NEWS.co.nz from 6pm.