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Did opinion polls influence the election?

Tuesday 29 Nov 2011 8:12 a.m.

As usual in the run-up to this year's election, much emphasis was placed on opinion polls.

They showed National would get about 50 percent support but failed to show Winston Peters would be back in the game.

New research by Michelle Nicol shows those polls may also have contributed to the record low turnout.

Her research found three main influences on people’s perceptions of politics and the election, with a lot of undecided voters going to the ‘popular’ party in order to feel as though they fit in.

“There has been a trend toward decreasing voter turnout for the last few decades,” she says but adds that the 2002 election saw similar poor numbers. She says the 2002 election was similar to 2011 as opinion polls before both elections showed a clearcut winner in the leadup to the election.

Ms Nicols says there “is a little bit of a bandwagon element” with New Zealand First’s result.

Click ‘view video’ to see the full interview.

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