Vote Intention Poll Performance: New Zealand General Election 2020

How did the pre-election polls for the 2020 Parliament perform?

Anthony B. Masters


On 17th October 2020, New Zealand electors cast votes for the new Parliament. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed this election.

How well did the pre-election polls perform? This article discusses their accuracy.

Final Polls

Three research companies conducted vote intention polls during the election campaign. The last poll finished on 15th October 2020 — two days before the election.

According to the Electoral Commission, Labour took 49% of party votes. In preliminary results, the National Party had 27% of party votes. ACT New Zealand finished third, on 8% of party votes.

This is the preliminary results. (Image: NZ Electoral Commission)

To measure accuracy, I look at:

  • LAB Lead: Labour minus National party vote intention shares, deducting the actual difference.
  • Two-party mean absolute error: the average absolute difference between estimates and actual shares. This is for vote intention share estimates of Labour and National parties.
  • Five-party mean absolute error: the calculation extends to NZ First, ACT, and Greens.

There are three companies to consider:

  • Reid Research: this is a mixed-mode sample. Each quota sample is of 1,000 eligible New Zealand electors. The company contacts 700 via phones, and 300 more through an internet panel. The weights are for age, gender, and geography. The weighting targets are from from Statistics New Zealand population figures.
  • Colmar Bruton: this is a telephony poll. The target population is of eligible New Zealand electors with access to a phone. The weights are for age, gender, region, ethnic identification, and phone access. The company asks an unprompted party vote intention question. The question is: “Firstly thinking about the Party Vote which is for a political party. Which political party would you vote for?”
  • Roy Morgan Research: this is also a telephony poll. The sample is a “NZ-wide cross section”. It is unclear what the weights were. They asked: “If a New Zealand Election were held today, which party would receive your party…



Anthony B. Masters

This blog looks at the use of statistics in Britain and beyond. It is written by RSS Statistical Ambassador and Chartered Statistician @anthonybmasters.