The leaps and bounds of Patrick Gower – how the spin is spun



Patrick Gower’s latest blog is a test case example of how the mainstream media spin a reality that may or may not be based beyond their keyboard.

It is six weeks into the political year, and the Opposition finds itself waking up in those all-too familiar cold sweats.
For Labour, the Greens, Hone Harawira (and to a lesser extent, Winston Peters) the recurring bad dream is all too real: John Key is back on top again.
Yes, Key is in control once again – at a massive 51.4 percent in the 3 News/Reid Research poll.

STOP. We are 66 odd words in, and Patrick has another 1000 words brewing that all hang on his assertion that the 51.4% support for National is legit.

So is it? In the month of the 2011 election, the 3 News/Reid Research poll took 3 polls over the 3 weeks leading up to the election. Remember, National gained 47.3%. In the first poll 3 News/Reid Research gave National 53.3%, in the second poll 3 News/Reid Research gave National 50.3% and in the 3rd poll 3 News/Reid Research gave National 50.8%. They were out by 6%, 3% and 3.5%. Their margin of error was 3.1%

They were over their own margin of error twice in the month of the election, what the 3 News/Reid Research Poll has to say on any issue is about as dubious as Ken Ring’s earthquake and fishing to the apocalypse almanac predictions.

Gower spends the next 1000 words spinning a narrative to explain why Key is so popular according to a Poll that was outside their own margin of error twice in the month of the bloody election.

The 3 News/Reid Research Poll is gin soaked bullshit wrapped in a napkin of subjective crap and yet here is the top political head kicker of a TV Network effectively coming up with excuses as to why Key is so popular, he’s writing the spin for John Key. Gower is spinning the narrative all based on a poll that simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny of how it performed in the last election.

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I won’t even bother with the rest of his argument when the bridge he’s built to justify his conclusion is held together by snot and hope.

Gower isn’t giving an educated opinion, he is white noise.

[poll id=”29″]


  1. I used to watch a little television but stopped entirely many months ago. It’s 99% crap. The same for radio and ‘newspapers’.

    The key to becoming informed is the spend one’s time viewing reliable sources of information on the Internet, which is also has a lot of crap but one can choose to avoid it.

    For me and many others the talking heads and propagandists of mainstream media are irrelevant -other than the damage they do to society and the global environment.

  2. Clearly the National machinery have managed to get Gower on side (similar to Barry Soper). It is a simple strategy for National that shouldnt work but it does.

    Chauvel was spot on the mark in his speech.

    The sad state of NZ MSM.

  3. Unfortunately Gower is like most of not all MSM political commentators, just cheer leaders for a callous evil government who are so afraid to be objective in case the nice Mr Key turns on them. Gower has no credibility and I for one pay no attention to him. Objective balanced fair political journalism in the MSM does not exist anymore hence why I read the Daily Blog.

  4. The thing is, Patrick Gower’s got a job to do. His company funds this poll, so his job isn’t to make an objective analysis of it, his job requires him to treat this poll as the finest and most consistently accurate poll known to humanity.

    I almost feel sorry for him. The other night when the latest results were released he was scratching around for things to explain the sudden increase for National over the last poll. The fairly obvious explanations – that the changed numbers are down to ordinary statistical variation and the fact that this particular poll just isn’t very accurate – were completely unavailable to him.

    I only “almost” feel sorry for him though. He’s the prime exponent of the political reporter as sports commentator, who mistakes objectivity for treating politics as a game and reporting on how well each team’s doing at scoring points.

    • @ Psycho Milt – spot on.

      If Gower questioned the accuracy of the poll, he’d be hauled upstairs to have a “quiet chat” with The Manager, and his ears would be glowing like a Red Giant star afterwards.

      He’s got no choice in the matter. If he questioned the poll – what would be the point of having them?

      As an aside, the Census survey asked questions about household phones/cellphones/internet/fax usage. Once NZ Stats sorts out the data, we’ll know for sure how many households no longer have a landline.

      And if it’s a sizeable number? Expect phone polling to suffer a palpable body-blow.

  5. Nonetheless, assuming the polling is still just as far out (which it probably is), Key is still at an eye-watering 48% popularity. The perseverance of Key’s super high-ratings is simply inexplicable for those of us who despise the guy. It really just confounds rational thought.

    • What this and other polls don’t reflect is the growing numbers of people on low incomes who cannot afford a land line telephone. These folk are virtually forced to only use their mobiles for texting because of the pathetic incomes the working poor and beneficiaries receive.

    • Hmmmm, I wonder about that as well, Nitrium.

      To give an example, I know of six people who voted National in 2008 and 2011.

      Of those six;

      Two are a married couple; in their 60s; and are your archetypal “Rob’s Mob” types for whom the Party they identify with (in this case the Nats) Can Do No Wrong.

      Two were attendees at a recent Rare Disorders Conference, and are two women in their 40s. Their comments about Key are unprintable. Needless to say, Dear Leader has lost two votes there.

      Two are tradesmen; in their 50s and 60s. The typical small businessman.

      One of them no longer has a nice thing to say about Key and will most likely stat home (or vote NZ First? Conservative Party?) if he does vote. His wife is a Labour party voter.

      The other tradesman whinges and bitches about this government, to which he’s reminded, “well, you DID vote for them”. His reaction to that borders on sulking.

      He may vote National (reluctantly) or stay at home and not bother.

      I have a feeling bthe Colmar Brunton poll is unflective of reality – something Matthew Hooton himself said on Nine To Noon, Radio NZ, on 18 February,

      “According to that [poll], National could govern alone. Look, I find that Colmar Brunton poll has a consistant history of over-estimating National’s support, going back right through to the nineties, if not before. I don’t believe that National has more votes, more support, than it did at the time of the election. National got 47.3[%] [at] the last election. This poll gives it 49[%].”


      And as I’ve written elsewhere (The Standard, etc), whilst I disagree with Hooten on many issues – he still comes across as a lot saner and articulate than his loony rightwing mates.

  6. Kiaora. Sarah Daniell from the New Zealand Herald asked Patrick 12 questions, just 4 days before he began his role as TV3’s political editor that he took over from Duncan Garner.

    Patrick was a former Herald reporter himself, so I read.

    Patrick Gower always wanted to be a journalist, a job he says he takes on with a great sense of responsibility.

    1. Describe your political reporting style in 140 characters.

    Hard but fair. Responsible and accurate. Serious when I need to be, gutsy when I need to be, and a little bit irreverent from time to time as required. It is politics after all – you need a sense of the ridiculous.

    2. What do you think when you see yourself on TV?

    Bloody hell, how did I end up on there? Why is my tie never straight? And jeepers, that make-up doesn’t help much, does it?

    3. What did you think of the Rod Emmerson cartoon? What did it get right, and what does it feel like to “be” the story?

    Rod’s called me a “clubhouse lawyer” – I think that’s the fella at the golf club who is the self-appointed caller of the rules. In some senses that’s a political journo’s role. We’ve got to step in and call it for the public sometimes, because if it was up to the politicians, it would always be “move on, nothing to see here …” And that was the case with the Labour Party leadership stoush at the weekend. They’d prefer to pretend it wasn’t happening, but the voting public deserves to know if the guy David, who is gunning to be Prime Minister, isn’t safe in his job because another guy called David is trying to get it.

    As for being in “the news”, it’s far from ideal, but once in a while you’ve got to put yourself out there to get the job done or politicians will just walk all over us. I’ve had my name in the Herald many times on top of stories I’ve written back in the day, but I never thought I’d get a mention in a cartoon. Hopefully it’s the first and last time.

    Do you think you’ll get a reply to this article Martyn, from Patrick, Martyn?

    4. How often do you drink with politicians?

    Hardly ever. I think those days of journos drinking with the politicians are long gone. Either that or the politicians don’t want a bar of me – so it’s probably a bit of both actually. In saying that, we had a couple with the MPs last night at Garner’s farewell from Parliament. And Winston and I did go for a couple of quiets down Courtenay Place earlier this year.

    I guess Paddy had a couple of ‘elbow juicies’ with the Hon. Winston Peters…I wonder if he ever will again?

    Here’s the link to that NZ Herald article titled and the rest of those Questions & Answers ‘Twelve Questions with Patrick Gower’ By Sarah Daniell

    There has been a noticeable change in Paddy’s reporting style whether he likes to admit it or not.

    • Thanks for the link to the interview siena – in which Gower said:

      In some senses that’s a political journo’s role. We’ve got to step in and call it for the public sometimes, because if it was up to the politicians, it would always be “move on, nothing to see here …” And that was the case with the Labour Party leadership stoush at the weekend. They’d prefer to pretend it wasn’t happening, but the voting public deserves to know if the guy David, who is gunning to be Prime Minister, isn’t safe in his job because another guy called David is trying to get it.

      And here we see where Gower’s intervention results in the manufacturing of news. There was no coup, and Gower’s dogged attempts to expose this non-event, masked the really important activities at the conference.

      The public should know exactly how much Gower skewed the story, and that he didn’t inform voters on the moves to a more democratic Labour Party that occurred at the conference. He was attempting to deliver to TV3 News’s infotainment agenda, an easily understandable dramatic conflict, rather than informing voters of the substantial events at the conference.

  7. The only poll that matters is on election day. I’m thinking of giving up on directly campaigning for opposition political parties. Instead I think I’ll stick to getting the 800,000 non voters from the last election to get out and vote. Fortunately National is doing a mighty fine job of giving them a reason to vote. I have a very good plan which we are working on to achieve our goal!  

  8. Gower is actually saying that Key’s apparent rise in popularity is due largely to clever politicking and spin rather than to solid achievement. Key has, he says “won the political chess of the first six weeks”. He is probably right and I don’t think we should take umbrage at his saying so.

  9. Gower is in the same mould as his predecessor at TV3 Duncan Garner. He has pushed the boat out faster than Garner, but not further. It’s the political journo’s job to create a context for events.

    • Too true!

      To be fair the TV sound bite mania prevents realistic discussion.

      There might not be much worth talking about ,let alone looking at.

      The advertisers would flee.


  10. Come on guys, give the drunk bloke down at the pub a little credit. I’ve got more good leads fromthem than I ever have by watching a TV news network chase it’s own spin like a clump of public hair in the whirlpool of the bath plug hole.

  11. Martin, as far as I tell here you’ve done nothing to challenge the accuracy of the polling method other than to say the companies previous polls have been outside the margin of error — that is possible or not?
    Surely, you’d be wanting to challenging their methods and the validity of the poll more vigorously before launching into an attack on Gower’s interpretation of it.
    As it stands, your interpretation would seem to have even less validity.
    Get the good folk from involved, they’ll give you and unbiased appraisal . . .

  12. Patrick Gower is the bovver boy of the gallery. The really sad part is that he would be delighted to read that sentence. But the man whose shoes he filled as political editor was Duncan Garner, who said to Chris Carter in public “I am going to fucking get you, Carter. If it takes me to Christmas I am going to fucking destroy you” and somehow kept his job. In fact, I wouldn’t mind betting his boss bought him a beer.

  13. That was unfair to Ken Ring. He doesn’t spin things, he analyses charts and shit. Plus he is a lot more experienced than the TV3 research and given enough time will be proven to predict at least one more cataclysmic event.

  14. “Rod’s called me a “clubhouse lawyer” – I think that’s the fella at the golf club who is the self-appointed caller of the rules.”

    Patrick Gower is too kind to himself. I recall after the 08 election Chris T. wrote a piece about the selfishness and self-absorption of the children of boomers (of which I am one), the new mean “kiwi bloke” who is just in it for himself (OK I am paraphrasing) and the feckless women who tolerate them.

    To me Patrick Gower epitomises exactly this phenomenon. Yuck.

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