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Research Results

Ardern making more New Zealanders feel positive than Bridges

5 Feb 20

Ardern making more New Zealanders feel positive than Bridges
Jacinda Ardern - making 36% feel hopeful compared with 19% for Simon Bridges

Prime Minister and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern is making New Zealanders feel far more proud, hopeful and pleased than National and Opposition leader Simon Bridges.

A long-running series of election studies in the United States has shown candidates who inspire more positive feelings than their opponents usually perform better in elections.

Horizon last compared how leaders made New Zealanders feel in 2011 when Prime Minister John Key was running against Opposition and Labour leader Phil Goff.

Key was seen to be more positive on a number of factors. His party won the election.

Horizon surveyed 1,076 adults nationwide, representing the 18+ population at the 2018 census, between January 24 and 28, 2020.

Results in the chart above show Mr Bridges is making more people feel concerned, nervous, angry, disgusted and bored than Ms Ardern.

However, the Prime Minister is disappointing 24%, Mr Bridges 23%.

Feelings differ among men and women.

On the key indicators of anger and hope, Ms Ardern makes 17% of men angry, 10% of women. Mr Bridges makes 20% of men angry, 18% of women.

Ms Ardern makes 42% of women feel hopeful, 29% of men. Mr Bridges makes 14% of women feel hopeful, 24% of men.

Feelings for both according to gender are in the table below.

They indicate that among both men and women Ms Ardern is eliciting more positive feelings than Mr Bridges across a range of indicators.

Background and methodology

Respondents were drawn from Horizon’s national panel and a third-party research panel for source diversity. Results were weighted by age, gender, personal income, educational qualifications, local government area and party voted for at the 2017 general election.

At a 95% confidence level, the maximum margin of error is +/- 3.1%.

Questions on feelings toward political leaders are adapted from those used by American National Election Studies, an academic-led project researching voters’ views of United States presidential candidates, with some data tracking starting in 1948. It has found a candidate who is viewed more positively is more likely to win.

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Horizon Research last surveyed New Zealanders’ feelings about National and Labour leaders in 2011. John Key was viewed more positively on several factors and won sufficient votes to form a coalition government. (2011 graphic: Sunday Star Times).

For further information on this survey and Horizon's political and other research sevices, please contact

Graeme Colman, Principal, Horizon Research Ltd, email, telephone +64 21 848 576.