Join the panel!


Ardern disappoints, Luxon making people nervous

5 Nov 22

Ardern disappoints, Luxon making people nervous
Which leader "wins" on feelings...

A new Horizon Research poll, measuring how the two main parties’ leaders are making New Zealanders feel, finds Jacinda Ardern making twice as many angry than in 2020.

She is making 28% angry, compared with 13% when last measured in January 2020.

The poll also finds the highest-ranking feeling she invokes is “disappointment” (33%).

National leader Christopher Luxon makes less people feel angry than Ardern (15%) and more people feel hopeful (25% versus 20%).

However, only 10% of New Zealanders say he makes them comfortable compared with Ardern (21%).

He is also half as pleasing as Ardern (7% v 14%) and more boring (17% v 11%). Luxon and Ardern make equal numbers feel afraid (14% Luxon, 13% Ardern).

Ardern’s hopeful ranking (20%) is slightly higher than former National Prime Minister John Key’s in November 2011 (18%). Luxon’s hopeful ranking (25%) is higher than Key’s at that time.

Horizon has been tracking the feelings New Zealanders have toward party leaders since 2011, basing its research on election studies conducted in the United States since the 1960s. They have generally shown leaders who invoke more positive feelings are more likely to win office.

This is the first survey to measure how the new National Leader is making people feel.

Horizon says some of the key measures are how hopeful, proud and excited leaders make people feel.

Changes for Ardern since 2020

Compared with the last feelings survey of January 2020, Ardern’s anger rating has jumped from 13% to 28%.

She makes 13% afraid now compared with 6% then. 19% are now nervous, compared with 14% in 2020.

The biggest rise is in disappointment – up from 24% to 35%.

Her hopeful rating has dropped significantly from 36% to 20%.

Behind Ardern’s current ratings

After five years in government, she makes more New Zealanders feel disappointed (33%) than any other emotion measured by the survey.

This includes 26% of those who voted Labour at the 2020 general election, 37% of ACT voters, 45% of Green, 32% of Māori Party, 48% of National, and 40% of New Zealand Frist voters.

Least disappointed with Ardern are those with middle personal incomes of between $50,001 and $70,000 a year. Most disappointed (36%) with incomes of $20,000 or less (36%).

Her anger rating (28% overall) is also lowest among the $50,001 to $75,000 middle income group (11%) and highest among those earning $150,000 to $200,000 a year (32%).

Behind Luxon’s ratings

Luxon’s main issues are with how concerned he makes people feel (32%). This is lowest in regional cities (24%) but higher in regional towns (38%) and rural but not remote areas (41%).

By party voted for in 2020, he is making 17% of ACT voters feel concerned, 64% of Green, 44% of Labour, 48% of Māori Party, 9% of National and 32% of New Zealand First.


Horizon’s principal, Graeme Colman, says Ardern is ahead of Luxon on three of five positive emotions measured, even on one (excited) and behind on hope.

Ardern makes more people feel four out of seven negative emotions than Luxon.

“It’s clear Ardern is disappointing many and inspiring less hope than in 2020. On the other hand Luxon has issues with making people nervous and concerned. Ardern is also well ahead of Luxon in making people feel comfortable (21% v 10%) and proud (17% to 4%).

“The same poll found Labour would get 40 seats and National 37 if an election were held tomorrow. The work leaders do to inspire hope, pride and excitement and make the country feel comfortable with them could be important in the lead up to next year’s general election.”

 Addtional insights

The following chart compares October 2022 results for Christopher Luxon and Jacinda Ardern with those for former National Prime Minister John Key in November 2011.


The online poll has 1,153 respondents aged 18+, representing the New Zealand adult population. It was conducted online between October 20 and 25. At a 95% confidence level, the poll’s maximum margin of error is +/- 3.2%.

The survey was conducted by Horizon in the public interest. It was not commissioned by any political party.


Graeme Colman, Principal, Horizon Research


Telephone: 021 848 576