Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference (Photo: Hagen Hopkins – Pool/Getty Images)
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference (Photo: Hagen Hopkins – Pool/Getty Images)

PoliticsApril 27, 2020

Exclusive: New poll shows support for level four extension despite economic pain

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference (Photo: Hagen Hopkins – Pool/Getty Images)
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference (Photo: Hagen Hopkins – Pool/Getty Images)

A survey by Stickybeak for The Spinoff shows a strong majority in support of the timing of the shift to alert level three. Stickybeak’s David Brain breaks down the data from our third poll.

See previous polls here and here

At midnight, New Zealand moves out of the strictest lockdown settings and into alert level three. That follows an announcement by Jacinda Ardern last Monday that the level four measures would be extended by five days. Two-thirds of New Zealanders have judged that decision to be “about right”, with 22% saying it was too early and only 4% saying it was too late.

Most noisily in the US, but in many other countries, business lobbies are making the case for relaxing restrictions and “opening up” economies, often when there has been less success in suppressing the virus. Today’s results suggest there is very little public enthusiasm for quickly lifting the restrictions.

And most people expect that to create serious, lasting economic damage. When we asked people what the economic impact of Covid-19 would be, 40% said they expected a prolonged recession of one to two years of negative economic growth. And 8% said they expect a depression – or at least three years of negative economic growth. That’s nearly half of us expecting a pretty bleak economic future and yet two-thirds still wanting to “finish what we started” and extend level four lockdown by five days.

It is no surprise, then, that our tracking data on satisfaction with the government’s response remains incredibly positive at 86%, up three points from two weeks ago. The big movement was in those who say “excellent”; up 11% from 61% two weeks ago to 72% now.

Other pollsters appear to be in broad alignment on this question with Colmar Brunton’s survey of the same time period showing very similar results of 84% and 86%.

While that level of satisfaction has held firm, it will be a challenge to keep it so high as the country navigates down through the alert levels and the government has to balance the need to open the economy and loosen isolation and travel restrictions while still guarding against secondary outbreaks.

One indication of the difficulty of this task is the increase in the belief that the pandemic will make us more suspicious of each other and a slight decrease in the number of optimists. Two weeks ago 63% said we would emerge more united and supportive versus 60% today. But more significant is the rise in the number saying we will be more suspicious and less trusting; from 12% two weeks ago to 18% today.

When we analysed responses to this question by age group we found that younger people and essential workers were more pessimistic with 26% of both groups saying we would emerge more suspicious.

The variations, however, are fairly small and there is still a significant majority feeling positive about each other. But progress on this “cohesion” measure will be interesting to track as it is the underpinning for so many of the other positive scores.

There was a mixed response on how much the Covid-19 experience will change the country with just over half saying that they expect the New Zealand of two years’ time to be “changed somewhat” versus only 20% saying it will be “changed drastically”.

Perhaps not surprisingly, after a month, we’re finding self-isolation a little harder. Two weeks ago, 63% of us found it easy or very easy, but now that figure is 56%. Further analysis indicated the older the respondent, the easier the self-isolation experience. Only 41% of the under 40s said self-isolation was easy compared to 57% of the 40- to 59-year-olds and a whopping 65% of those aged 60-plus.

Overall our experience is still viewed as positive, but that sentiment is slipping a little.

Perhaps it’s the lure of takeaways or the return of surfing, but the prospect of seeing out alert level four and at least two weeks of alert level three in self-isolation is expected to be “easy” or “very easy” by 58% of us.

And while in isolation, those of us who have been working from home are fairly equally split on the experience. Again, a measured response and one that can probably be used to support arguments for or against the return to offices and formal places of work. Take your pick.

About the study

  • Respondents were self-selecting participants, recruited via Facebook and Instagram through ads targeted at 32 separate demographic sub-sets in New Zealand
  • A total of n=605 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 on Tuesday 21 April and was completed Saturday 25 April.

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.

Keep going!