TVOne news was the single largest source of information on the last election for voters.
It was followed by newspapers and then TV3.
Just over 62% went to TVOne news “sometimes” or often: for election news; 54.9% to newspapers and 43.9% to TV3.
Research conducted for the New Zealand Election Study which is run by a number of New Zealand political scientists showed that the TV channels and newspapers dominated election coverage.
Radio was nowhere near as widely listened to.
In what may surprise many people, Radio New Zealand National was listened to for election news “often” or “sometimes” by only 21% — 58.6% listened rarely or not at all. And talkback radio fared even worse with only 19% listening frequently but 61.6% listening rarely or not at all.
The survey also gives a revealing insight into party campaigning methods and underlines Labour’s budgetary problems.
While Labour and national canvassers each reached between seven and eight per cent of the population to talk to voter son the doorsteps – National out performed Labour by 60.7 to 50.7% on reaching people by letter and was ahead in reaching voters by phone, email and texting.
Interestingly the Greens actually reached more voters by email than Labour.
And ironically the Internet Party reached most of its voters by letter.
Added together, the media research plus the campaigning statistics suggests that New Zealand political parties have got a long way to go before they succeed in reaching voters through non mainstream media electronic means.
Back in May the Prime Minister listed four questions which his Government sought to address.
“People who are in their homes or any community around New Zealand today are focussed on four issues,” he said.
“Does the family have the jobs they need to support themselves?
“Do they feel safe in their community?
“Are their children getting a decent education?
“Is the health system going to perform for them?
He said that [people worried about the issues that actually mattered to them.
“And that’s where their focus and attention is and as long as we as a government stay absolutely focussed on those issues we are going to connect to New Zealanders,’ he said.
“And as long as deliver for New Zealanders on that we are going to connect to them and they will vote for us.
The study supported this with 51% saying family issues were somewhat or very important in forming a vote — and specifically health, education and housing dominated an itemised issues list.
But another surprise was how many people thought there was some truth in Nicky Hagar’s “Dirty Politics” – 39.7% (though 36% didn’t know).
But ultimately it was John Key who won the election — an incredible 79.9% thought he was a competent leader while only 23.1% thought the same of David Cunliffe.
And despite Labour’s “Shonkey” campaign against the Prime Minister, 56.1% thought he was trustworthy but only 31% thought the same of David Cunliffe.
And whereas 16% strongly liked National only 6.4% felt the same way about Labour.
From their media habits to their priority issues, this survey underlines the conservative nature of the New Zealand electorate.
And even though voters are willing to believe the kind of conspiracy theories in Hagar’s book they made little impact on the overall election.