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AucklandSeptember 14, 2016

New mayoral poll: Goff maintains big lead but here comes the Chloenator


Phil Goff remains well out in front in the contest for the big job in Auckland but young pretender Chloe Swarbrick has built support against the odds.

A new poll published today by the Spinoff shows Phil Goff on course to succeed Len Brown as mayor of Auckland, maintaining a comfortable lead over his closest challenger, Vic Crone. The most noteworthy result in the poll by Horizon Digital for the Aera Foundation may, however, be the emergence of the youngest candidate in the field, whose campaign is being run on a shoestring, Chloe Swarbrick.

The Labour MP for Mt Roskill registered 38% in the online poll, well ahead of Vic Crone on 11% and her nearest rival on the right, John Palino, on 6%. Their corresponding results in last month’s poll for the Spinoff (conducted using similar methodology by a different polling company, SSI), the only other published poll in the Auckland mayoralty campaign, placed Goff on 31%, Crone 8% and Palino 4%.

All voters. Horizon poll for the Aera Foundation
All voters. Horizon Digital poll for the Aera Foundation

The standout result, however, is that for Chloe Swarbrick, the impressive and precocious 22-year-old, who finished fourth in the poll, outranking the sort-of-withdrawn-from-the-race Mark Thomas, on 4% (twice his result in the last survey).

While her 5% result does not yet augur a Mayor Swarbrick, it adds weight to her argument that she should have been included in more mayoral debates as well the Spinoff/SSI poll, which did not proffer her name to respondents.

Chloe Swarbrick. Photo: John Silas
Chloe Swarbrick. Photo: John Silas

“I think the poll shows that the game has changed,” said Swarbrick last night.

“I have next to no funding, next to no resources behind my campaign, but have managed to reach large numbers of Aucklanders who are tired of the old way of doing things.”

Swarbrick said that while it was disappointing that the poll came just a few days before postal voting opens on Friday, the result should nevertheless send a message that “the status quo approach and media coverage is just not the best way of doing things … More than anything my campaign has been not about dictating, but about listening – I think that’s the way politics needs to be moving.”

The undecided/don’t-know level, at 23%, is down considerably from the 44% level recorded in last month’s poll.

When recalculated to include only those who selected a candidate, the Horizon Digital poll puts Goff on 52% ahead of Crone on 15%, followed by Palino on 8% and Swarbrick on 7%.

Decided voters.
Decided voters. Horizon Digital poll for the Aera Foundation.

Notwithstanding some unforeseen catastrophe, however, the mayoral chains look all but Goff’s. He led across all age and income groups, Horizon reports, with his highest level of support, 55%, coming from those earning more than $200,000 a year.

The online survey, conducted by Horizon Research, was commissioned by the Aera Foundation, a charitable trust founded by entrepreneur Derek Handley.

Explaining the Aera Foundation’s motivation for commissioning the poll, Handley said the mayoral election is taking place “at an incredibly critical time given the early maturation of the ‘Super City’ and the housing crisis the city is most definitely in. The mayor is arguably the second most influential public role in New Zealand and is at the head of a collective of organisations directing billions of dollars of assets and revenue, touching Aucklanders every single day.”

In a blog post, he wrote: “Polls can often trigger more people talking about the election, wanting to learn more and enquire as to what the possibilities indicate and what they as an individual can or should do to see the change they seek … Aera is a charitable trust in New Zealand that invests in campaigns and causes addressing social issues and empowering people to make their voices heard and participate in important decisions that will affect our collective future, is one such issue. The future of our city is a key driver for the wellbeing and success of New Zealand and all New Zealanders and one that we should all be concerned and engaged with.”

The foundation, he added, is “a completely non-partisan organisation, simply trying to encourage voter engagement”.

The results come from an online survey of 748 members of Horizon Research’s specialist adult research panels residing in Auckland City. The survey was conducted between September 8 and 12, and measured respondents’ intended support for the 19 Mayoral candidates. The sample was weighted on age, gender, personal income and sub-city to provide a representative sample of the 18+population in Auckland City at the 2013 census. At a 95% confidence level, the survey has a maximum margin of error of ±3.6% overall.

Full details of the poll can be found here.

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