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About the New Zealand Election Study

Background on the New Zealand Election Study
Through the analysis of political behaviour over eight successive New Zealand elections, we have been monitoring the democratic process in New Zealand during a period of social and economic change and, most particularly, during the transition between electoral systems: the first past the post (FPP) or plurality electoral system in effect in New Zealand from the origins of the political system, and the new Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system which is in effect from the 1996 election.

The NZES began in its present form in 1990, continued in 1993, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005 and 2008 and its most recent study includes the 2011 general election. The NZES's main source of data are questionnaires which are posted to randomly selected registered electors across the country immediately following each election. Questions focus on voting choices, political opinions, and social and demographic characteristics.

Data from the NZES programme are available for secondary analysis. Data can be downloaded directly from this website free of charge. Click here for instructions. These data are also deposited at the Australian Social Science Data Archives at the Australian National University, Canberra and with the University of Aucklandís New Zealand Social Science Data Service (NZSSDS).

The 2011 Election
The 2011 election was held on November 26. The 2011 New Zealand Election Study (NZES) included module 4 of the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) programme and also included questions that will be used to analyse the results of the electoral system referendum concurrent with the election. It was funded by various sources within the University of Auckland, the Electoral Commission, the McDougall Trust, and AUT University. Survey administration was conducted by the Centre of Methods and Policy Application in the Social Sciences (COMPASS) at the University of Auckland, which is also one of the funders of the project. Dr. Gerard Cotterell, Manager of COMPASS, led the administration of the survey research.

The 2008 Election
The 2008 election was held on November 8, 2008. The result was a change of government from a Labour-led to a National-led government. Support predominantly came from various sources within the University of Auckland and the Electoral Commission, with some further funding from the University of Houston, the New Zealand Treasury, and AUT University.

The 2008 Election Study includes module 3 of the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) programme. The dataset contains 3042 respondents, of whom 636 are an oversample from the seven Maori electorates. Part of the data is a three-wave panel to 2002 (948 respondents). Among the freshly-sampled respondents, the response rate was about 40 per cent.

The 2005 Election
New Zealand's fourth election under MMP was held on September 17, 2005. It was much more closely fought than recent New Zealand elections. Official results can be found here, and in more detail at the New Zealand elections website. The 2005 New Zealand Election contains two main elements. The first is our standard post-election survey, with questionnaires sent by post to several thousand New Zealanders. This was funded by the University of Auckland, Auckland University of Technology, and the New Zealand Electoral Commission.

The dataset contains 3743 respondents, of whom 1130 are an oversample from the seven Maori electorates. Part of the data is a three-wave panel to 1999 (767 respondents) and a four-wave panel to 1996 (397 respondents). Tables from the data may be obtained on request from the collaborators on the basis of marginal costs.

The second element of the 2005 NZES was more experimental, and took place on the internet only, in two waves, one immediately before the election, and another after the final results were announced. Preliminary results from the pre-election wave can be found here. Unlike most internet surveys, this was based on a random sample of enrolled voters, to whom postcards were sent during the final week of the campaign. The first-wave response rate was just over 10 per cent, and reflected surprisingly well the age and gender breakdown of the electorate. Work is continuing on this sample to determine if it may be a viable method of administering a campaign survey at the next election.

The 2002 Election
New Zealand's third election under MMP was held on July 27, 2002. Voters' Veto: The 2002 Election in New Zealand and the Consolidation of Minority Government, edited by Jack Vowles, Peter Aimer, Susan Banducci, Jeffrey Karp, and Raymond Miller and published by Auckland University Press is available from various sources. You can view the preface here. Please contact the publisher for further information about ordering: aup@auckland.ac.nz.




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