Every election polls become a political blood sport with an eager audience of pundits and observers baying for political heads with the enthusiasm of a mob crammed into the Colosseum.
It's an infectiously enjoyable spectacle that's difficult to ignore, particularly with so much at stake.
This week, we've again seen how an unfavourable poll can drive a knife in the back of a politician and leave it there for his ambitious underlings to finish the job.
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National leader Simon Bridges isn't alone in desperately fighting against the mood of the mob to keep his job.
A series of disastrous polls for Labour in the lead-up to the previous election eventually saw Jacinda Ardern elevated to lead the party into Government.
On the surface, it all makes sense. A poll is, after all, designed to gauge sentiment and determine which way people will vote. If the public mood isn't leaning in your favour, then it makes sense to change things up.
However, the reality is more complicated than this. As we saw during Brexit, the last US election and the Colombian peace agreement referendum in 2016, polls can sometimes get it wrong.
Even in the local context, the continued existence of New Zealand First stands in defiance of polling in this country. It's little wonder Winston Peters takes such great pleasure in slapping away questions on polling when they invariably pop up every three years.
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This dissonance between what people say they think and what they actually do has become a major talking point in the advertising industry in recent years.
Rob Limb, the chief executive of Track NZ, has dedicated much of his career to working out what Kiwis want and says that asking them a straight question isn't a great way to acquire this information.
"We need to have more than a dose of caution when it comes to polls because what people say and what they actually feel doesn't always equate," Limb tells the Herald.
"As much as 90 per cent of our decision-making is based on emotions."
What this means is that while people might say they hold a certain view, this isn't always reflected in their behaviour.
Limb recently tested this idea in New Zealand during the lockdown.
As Kiwis were settling into their restricted environments, Limb's team asked a panel of 1000 people how they felt about being in lockdown conditions.
"Over 50 per cent told us that they felt restricted and that they felt anxious," says Limb.
The team then added a second layer on top of this questioning that was designed to tap into the subconscious motivations to work out how they actually felt.
"When we did this, we found that only a quarter of the people actually felt restricted. And, in fact, what we started to see was more evidence of calm and this new-found freedom."
Limb puts that huge 25 per cent discrepancy down to a rational response of the panel to the lockdown and the many concerns being reflected in the media. Limb explains that reading about something might make it seem true on a rational level even if that isn't reflected in the personal experience of the person taking the survey.
"What was really going on [at an emotional level] was really a reflection of their bubble," he says.
It's easy to see how this might play out in the political sector and lead to certain individuals – particularly those with more controversial views – being under-represented in the results.
A person completing a survey might not be willing to admit their support of Donald Trump or Winston Peters, for example, online or on the phone to the survey-taker out of fear of being judged for their views.
This is a rational response, driven largely by the reality that the politician's views aren't palatable to everyone. However, once they enter the cubicle and hide behind cloak anonymity, the more emotional part of the brain kicks into gear and decisions are made based on what the person actually thinks.
The dual forces driving decision-making have had a major impact on how businesses conduct research. Whereas customers were previously viewed as rational individuals who made calculated decisions, there's a growing understanding that businesses need to move people emotionally to stand out.
Limb points to the controversial example of Nike's famous Colin Kaepernick ad as an example of how research is evolving.
"Prior to that ad going live, Nike was very careful when it came to testing the subconscious reactions of people to that feeling and that campaign," says Limb.
"While people may have been stating concerns, it resonated very deeply that they were onto a winner. I'm not saying they knew they were onto a winner, but it certainly took some risk out of the decision to go with the campaign."
In many ways, Limb's insights simply confirm the suspicion we've all had that polls aren't 100 per cent accurate. But this isn't likely to stop all of us from tuning into the next big result to see whose head is on a stake. It's the drama we crave as much as the results. And that's why we, the mob, will always give a gutsy poll the thumbs-up.