NZ Election 2020: Newshub refutes claim highlighted by Judith Collins about 'push polling'

Newshub is refuting a claim by Judith Collins on Wednesday that "push polling" was involved in its recently released poll. 

On Sunday evening, the Newshub-Reid Research poll showed National on 25.1 percent, down 5.5 percent from the last poll in May. In comparison, Labour sat on 60.9 percent, the Greens were at 5.7 percent, Act had 3.3 percent support and New Zealand First followed on 2 percent.

Collins took over the National Party leadership two weeks ago after the sudden resignation of Todd Muller.  

Further results from the poll were released on Tuesday evening, including Kiwis' response to whether they agree or disagree that Jacinda Ardern was New Zealand's saviour, which is how she was recently described at a Labour Party conference

When asked about the poll results on The AM Show on Wednesday, Collins continued her attack.

"I was really shocked with the Reid Research poll that you guys put out. I'll tell you why, it wasn't just those numbers," she told The AM Show.

"It's to find out that one of the question -  first questions -  asked was 'Do you agree that Jacinda Ardern is the saviour of New Zealand?' That is push-polling and that's part of the evidence I have that this poll was completely nonsense."

Collins went on to say she had two reports from people polled that that question was "asked early on and they felt that that was absolutely about pushing a particular line".

She said if Reid Research wanted to "release their script, we would be happy to look at it".

Newshub's Director of News Sarah Bristow responded on Wednesday afternoon, saying: "We refute any claims of push polling and absolutely stand behind the methodology of the Newshub-Reid Research polls". 

She said party polling questions were asked first, followed by topical questions.

"To suggest any of the topical questions influenced the outcome of the poll is wrong."

Reid Research's managing director Ngaire Reid said the "same scientific methodology" had been used for more than 10 years. 

"The proof of the accuracy of our methodology was the 2017 election, where our results were the most accurate."

Reid said the methodology had been consistent in "sampling design, analytical and modelling techniques, apart from the addition of some online prior to 2017 election and more recently a component of mobile phones".

"This to compensate for the reducing number of landlines. The sample design reflects the total population of New Zealand according to the 2018 census figures."

Sunday's poll was conducted between July 16 and 24, and followed the same methodology as prior Newshub-Reid Research polls with 1000 people surveyed. Of those, 700 were by telephones - landlines and mobiles - and 300 were by internet panel. It has a margin of error of 3.1 percent. 

On Tuesday, Newshub was leaked polling information provided to the National Party caucus. It put National on 36 or 37 percent depending on the polling period, while Labour sat at 47 percent. 

Collins said on Wednesday that National polls every week. 

"It is up and down, obviously. Sometimes it is much closer to 40 [percent]. But we have done very, very well. I have only been the leader for two weeks and we have seen some pretty good improvements," she told The AM Show.