National's accusation of a "dodgy" Labour-commissioned poll placing the Labour East Coast candidate ahead of the National candidate has been rejected by Labour and the polling company.
National Party campaign chairman Gerry Brownlee today
claimed Labour's use of a controversial political research company - Community Engagement Limited - raised serious questions about its commitment to run a clean campaign.
But Labour campaign manager Hayden Munroe said the party "utterly reject Mr Bronwlee's claims about this poll and any allegation of push polling".
"A number of our candidates use Community Engagement Ltd to run local polls for them. Community Engagement Ltd is a reputable pollster with a range of political, advocacy and corporate clients in Australia and New Zealand," Munroe said.
Community Engagement's owner Eric Goddard also rejected the accusation, saying it was completely false and the poll was not a push poll.
Brownlee claimed in a media statement the company was previously accused of push-polling in Australia.
"Australia's Sunday Telegraph uncovered Community Engagement Limited was conducting push polling in key marginal seats in last year's Australian Federal Election, asking loaded questions about Labor's
political opponents to gain sham poll results, which would then turn up in the media,'' he said.
The transcript of the entire survey was released by Labour to the Rotorua Daily Post this afternoon.
The questions were multichoice with answers being either Labour candidate Kiri Allan, National candidate Tania Tapsell, Greens candidate Meredith Akuhata-Brown, another candidate, and unsure.
There were two questions asking about the most and least important issues to the person which included education; jobs and employment; health, mental health, and hospital; housing; transport, infrastructure and roads; the environment and climate change; Covid-19 recovery; cost of living; something else.
There were two questions on whether the leaders' performance of each party made the person more or less likely to vote for the East Coast candidate, with five answer options from much more likely to much less likely.
The 15-question poll of 831 randomly-selected residents, conducted last week, shows Labour's Kiri Allan sitting at 40.5 per cent and National candidate Tania Tapsell coming a close second at 35 per cent.
The poll also showed Labour leading for the party vote in the East Coast at 50 per cent with National sitting second at 31 per cent.
Brownlee alleged the company was now operating in New Zealand's election on behalf of the New Zealand Labour Party.
"Like Labour's promises on KiwiBuild, infrastructure and the economy, the promise to run a clean campaign is up in smoke."
"It is run by two ex-Young Labour presidents, one of whom works in a taxpayer-funded role in the office of Labour leader Jacinda Ardern," he said.
Brownlee said in his view: "Push polling is a dodgy and coercive political tactic and Labour has serious questions to answer if it is deploying such a method in our election."
He claimed the use of push polling by Labour was a "clear attempt to distract from its record of economic mismanagement" which he said would put the jobs and livelihoods of Kiwis in areas like East Coast at risk.
"Economic growth halved and job creation collapsed under Labour, even before Covid. They cannot be trusted to rebuild our economy and they know it."
"Labour's campaign is faltering and leaking push polls to try to get candidates over the line is pretty desperate stuff."
Owner of the company and former Young Labour president Eric Goddard said Brownlee's accusations were completely false and it was not the first time the National Party had tried to discredit him over the years.
Goddard ran the East Coast poll and said he had run other polls for this election, but not all.
"They're absolutely not push polls."
Goddard said push polling "was not something that we do" and the Australian article referenced had no legitimacy of push polls.
He said National liked to point out he was a former Young Labour president but said people who had a good experience on political campaigning made good pollsters.
What exactly were the questions?
As well as questions about age and gender, the questions were multichoice with answers.
• If a general election was held today, to which of the following would you give your party vote?
• How certain are you that you will vote that way on election day?
• Being undecided, to which of the following do you have even a slight leaning?
• Which of the following is more likely to receive your candidate vote?
• Regardless of your feelings at the moment, which party are you normally a supporter of?
• Which issue is most important to you at the moment?
• Which issue is next most important to you?
• Does Jacinda Ardern's performance as leader of the Labour Party make you more or less likely to vote for Labour Candidate Kiri Allan?
• Does Judith Collins' performance as leader of the National Party make you more or less likely to vote for National Candidate Tania Tapsell?
• Does Labour's handling of the coronavirus pandemic make you more or less likely to vote for Labour and/or Labour candidate Kiri Allan?
• Which candidate do you trust more to work to address the housing shortage in this electorate?
• Which candidate do you trust more to advocate for better health outcomes for people in this electorate?
• Which candidate do you trust more to work on providing jobs for young people in this electorate?