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Our text poll gives vastly different result for tomorrow’s vote

Nov 7th, 2008 | By | Category: Featured Article, Features

THE GREENS are clear favourites to be the highest polling party in tomorrow’s election – among texters and young people.

That’s the surprise result of a NewsWire snap text poll, whose first 200 replies give the Greens 30.5% of the party vote, with National scoring 26% and Labour 21.5%.

The result – in what is believed to be the only text poll published by a media organisation this election – makes the term “major” and “minor” seem obsolete.

It conflicts hugely with today’s final polls in mainstream news outlets, whose traditional land-line phone methods may miss the group reached by NewsWire. They have National well ahead, with the Greens on about 8%.

We’re assuming a big demographic bias towards the young and liberal in the text poll, given that these were the contacts of students and staff.

Professor Phil Harris from Otago University says text polling was a significant tool used in the United States by Obama and McCain, but it has not been done in New Zealand despite some parties exploring the idea.

“There are robot texting and phone message software systems in the US which allow you to find cell phone voters,” he says.

The proportion of the population with cell phones has increased to such an extent that some people no longer have home land lines.

“Those who predominantly or only have cell line is about 50%. Cell is 55% worldwide.”

He predicts the general election result could be swayed by the texting public: “They are swing voters or, undecideds and the young,” says Prof Harris.

The NewsWire result suggests that shift will be to the Greens, making the prospect of a Labour/Green coalition viable.

Greens co-leader Russel Norman was pleasantly surprised.

“It reflects the fact that Greens have got very strong support among younger people, who are less likely to be polled.  Greens are very future focused.”

Other points of note from the NewsWire text poll are New Zealand First making 5.5% – just over the threshold to matter – and the low numbers of undecided voters at 4.5%.

The Bill and Ben Party may not be mainstream, but with the texters they are right up with Act and the Maori Party and the Progressives.

About 500 texts were sent by 20 students and three staff. After six hours, 200 replies had been received and the analysis is based on that number.

One anonymous person spoken to said later: “I didn’t mind. It was better than being rung up, because I could answer when I was ready, without really being interrupted.”
But not everyone agreed, with the best text response of the survey being this message: “Mnd yr owen bznes!”

But there is a word of caution from marketing expert, Dr James Richard, at Victoria University.

“Polls are interesting, like parlour games. Some people play, believe, and follow them. Others make up their own mind independently. Self-selection surveys are always an issue when it comes to response bias.”

NewsWire Text Poll 

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is a Whitireia Journalism student.
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