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About the 2014 NZES

The principal researchers are:

Jack Vowles, jack.vowles@vuw.ac.nz
Hilde Coffe, hilde.coffe@vuw.ac.nz
Victoria University of Wellington

Jennifer Curtin, j.curtin@auckland.ac.nz
Gerard Cotterell, g.cotterell@@auckland.ac.nz
University of Auckland

The 2014 Election Study

The general election was held on 20 September, 2014. Its outcome was the re-election of a National Party-led government for a third term.

The 2014 NZES was funded by the Victoria University of Wellington, the New Zealand Electoral Commission, and the University of Auckland.

The book drawing on the 2014 NZES is A Bark But No Bite: Inequality and the 2104 New Zealand General Election, has been published by the ANU Press and is now available for free download. Its authors are Jack Vowles, Hilde Coffe (Victoria University of Wellington) and Jennifer Curtin (University of Auckland). The book provides an account of the 2014 general election in New Zealand, and inquires into the implications of social and economic inequality as a matter of political party contest in the election. The authors chose the latter as a theme both because of its importance both nationally and internationally, and because it posed a puzzle. Adapting a metaphor from a famous Sherlock Holmes story, during the 2014 election campaign inequality was a dog that barked, but did not bite. On the basis of well-known assumptions, its salience in the campaign should have benefitted the centre-left, but did not. In a nutshell, this was the starting point.

Questionnaires were in the field 2-3 days after the election. The questionnaire contains instruments to the extent to which individuals' aspirations for economic advancement and their perceptions of job security or insecurity affect voting choices and turnout. Those who identify a 'politics of aspiration' suggest that anticipations of economic advancement by individuals' own efforts could shape their political behaviour. This may be one reason why the association of income with political choice is often weak: people relate to their anticipations of future rather than present income. Yet aspirational effects may be offset by factors such as low job security. Drawing on a new measure of wealth and assets we will test these conjectures.

The 2014 NZES is based on a dataset of responses from 2,835 people whose names were randomly selected from the electoral rolls and who either returned questionnaires sent to them in the post or completed the survey online. Of these, 1,419 had responded to the 2011 NZES, making it possible to compare their responses between the two elections. The remaining 1,462 responded for the first time in 2014. Those enrolled in the Maori electorates were oversampled, with 547 responses.

The response rate for those freshly sampled was 33.4 per cent, a conservative estimate calculated without taking out those who were reported deceased or not at the address at which they were enrolled. Responses were received until late February, and then closed off. 61.7% of the previous election respondents who could be tracked down on the new roll were successfully recontacted.




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