Jacinda Ardern and Ashley Bloomfield arrive at a press conference in June. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
Jacinda Ardern and Ashley Bloomfield arrive at a press conference in June. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

PoliticsJune 16, 2020

Exclusive new poll: public support for Covid response remains sky high

Jacinda Ardern and Ashley Bloomfield arrive at a press conference in June. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
Jacinda Ardern and Ashley Bloomfield arrive at a press conference in June. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Fifth survey by Stickybeak for The Spinoff shows support for the government response solid as we enter level one – and the highest number yet give top marks.

Popular support for the response to the coronavirus crisis is undimmed as New Zealand enters its second week of a mostly restriction-free alert level one, a new Stickybeak poll for The Spinoff has found.

The poll, which surveyed 575 people and is demographically weighted, found that 84% of people were satisfied with the government’s response to the pandemic. It is the fifth consecutive poll in which the assessment has been overwhelmingly positive.

The first Stickybeak Covid-response survey, conducted immediately following Jacinda Ardern’s announcement of a move into lockdown on March 23, showed 80% support for the response. The four times we’ve asked the question since, that number has been higher, respectively: 83%, 86%, 84% and again, as we report today, 84%.

What’s different this time, however, is the proportion of those who back the measures that have described the response as “excellent”. Across five polls, going back to March, that number tracks as follows: 59%, 61%, 72%, 68% and, today, 74%.

It is likely that the new National Party approach under Todd Muller is informed by similar numbers from their own internal polling. Speaking at his local rugby club on Sunday, the new leader said, “The National Party celebrates, along with everyone else, that the Team of Five Million did a fine job through the health crisis.” He added: “However proud we are of how our Team of Five Million addressed the health crisis, we cannot risk a Labour government being in charge of the economic and unemployment crisis ahead.”

The OECD’s latest study projected that the New Zealand economy would be harder hit than Australia’s, with unemployment surging to 10% by the end of the year.

The new poll shows 41% expecting their personal financial situation to be negatively affected by Covid-19. That’s a drop from the last poll a month ago, which found 51% anticipating such an impact.

Fieldwork for the survey began last Monday, following the prime minister announcing that overnight the country would enter alert level one. Was the timing of the shift about right? 82% thought so, with 7% reckoning it was too early and 12% too late (yes, it adds to 101%; that’s thanks to rounding). We asked the same question following the shift to level three in late April. Then, 66% said the timing was about right. When we went to level two in mid-May, 68% thought that was about right.

According to the Oxford University Stringency Index, New Zealand now has among the most relaxed measures of any country, having under alert levels four and three instituted some of the world’s strictest. That reflects 24 days without any new cases of Covid-19, and a week without any active cases.

That is likely to have led to a decrease in worry around the potential of a second wave impacting New Zealand. This time last month, 57% said they were concerned or very concerned about the danger of a second wave. The number remains substantial, but has now dropped to 42%. There is broad support, meanwhile, of the strict international border measures, with only 9% opposing the controls.

When it comes to the prospect of a “trans-Tasman bubble”, which would allow travel between New Zealand and Australia without the requirement to quarantine, a majority were keen to hop across the ditch, with 59% saying they’d visit within the next year.

If there is one area in which reservations persist around the government response it is the contact tracing operation. While the existing systems have been overhauled to reach what the director general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, calls a “gold standard”, the digital solutions have been a muddle. Yesterday, the Ministry of Health reported that 557,000 registrations to its official Covid Tracer app had been recorded.

According to this poll, 55% of New Zealanders are confident in the existing systems.

A study published yesterday by Dalia Research found that “the vast majority of people around the world (70%) are generally satisfied with their government’s response to the Covid-19 virus, saying their government is handling the crisis well”.

According to the Democracy Perception Index, an annual study of 53 countries, the most satisfied countries are China (95%), Vietnam (95%), Greece (89%), Malaysia (89%) and Ireland (87%), and the least satisfied Brazil (34%) and Chile (39%).

New Zealand was not included in the Dalia study.

About the study

Respondents were self-selecting participants, recruited via Facebook and Instagram.

A total of n=575 sample was achieved of adults in New Zealand.

Results in this report are weighted by age, gender and region to statistics from the 2018 Census.

For a random sample of this size and after accounting for weighting the maximum sampling error (using 95% confidence) is approximately ±4.8%.

The study went into the field at 7pm Monday June 8 (just after the PM’s announcement of the lifting of level one restrictions and was completed at midday Monday June 15)

About Stickybeak

Stickybeak is a New Zealand startup launched globally last June, that uses chatbots to make quantitative market research more conversational and therefore less boring and even fun for respondents. Unlike conventional research which uses panels of professional paid responders, Stickybeak recruits unique respondents fresh for each survey via social media.

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