NZ election 2020: Winston Peters thinks both recent polls are rogue

Despite two of the country's most reliable polls both putting New Zealand First on 2 percent, leader Winston Peters says his life in politics is far from over. 

The Newshub-Reid Research poll from last Sunday and Thursday's 1News-Colmar Brunton poll might have disagreed somewhat on the support for the major parties, but were unanimous in condemning New Zealand First to oblivion.

Without an electorate seat, parties need 5 percent of the party vote to get into Parliament. NZ First has only occasionally hit this threshold in the polls in the past couple of years, and the last to have them clear of it outside the margin of error was a Stuff poll in November, when they scored 8 percent. 

But Peters, who has been a near-constant presence in Parliament since the late 1970s, is confident he'll be back for another three years.

"The last time we polled at 2 percent, when the election was over after four weeks, we got to almost 11 percent in four weeks flat," the 75-year-old told Newshub Nation on Saturday. 

"Four weeks flat. You remember that? Helen Clark called a snap election and in four weeks, we went from 2 to 3 percent to 10.8. You stand back and watch. I love you guys, the way you always write me off, and my party off." 

Peters was talking about 2002, not entirely accurately. Four weeks ahead of that election, NZ First was polling between 2.5 and 3.8 percent. The last time they polled 2 percent before that election was in November 2001. After a last-minute collapse in support for both National and Labour, NZ First ended up with 10.4 percent of the vote. 

NZ First was polling around 2 percent in the lead-up to the 2008 election, when they ended up with just over 4 percent and spent three years out of Parliament. 

National wrote off the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll as "rogue", after it showed Labour 35 points ahead of them. The 1News-Colmar Brunton poll wasn't quite as bad for the party, but still showed them far behind.

Despite both polls putting NZ First on 2 percent, Peters said they were both rogue.

"The gap between those two polls where National and Labour are concerned is more than 12 percent. Forget about us... If you see a spread of 12 percent on the major findings worldwide they know the methodology is rubbish."

Statisticians are wary of comparing the results of polls conducted with differing methodologies, instead focusing on the trends. The trends in both polls were the same - Labour up a few percentage points, and National down by slightly more. 

Newshub's director of news Sarah Bristow on Wednesday rejected claims the Reid Research poll was rogue.

"We refute any claims of push polling and absolutely stand behind the methodology of the Newshub-Reid Research polls". 

Winston Peters, laughing in the face of electoral oblivion.
Winston Peters, laughing in the face of electoral oblivion. Photo credit: Newshub Nation

Newshub Nation host Simon Shepherd gave Peters a chance to announce a new policy on air - a chance to pull a few more votes. Peters refused.

"I'd love to, but I don't think your audience is large enough. Come on, you know it's not." 

"Let's not talk about the size of my audience," replied Shepherd, "like you don't want to talk about the size of your polling."

Peters laughed.

"Why do you think I'm here after 27 years of being put down by you people time after time after time, and we're still sitting here?" 

Peters has spent more than 27 years in Parliament, but has been leader of NZ First for that period of time.