Voters at heart of political emotion
More than half of voters knew who they were going to vote for before the 2017 election campaign even began.
And it wasn’t policy that decided them - and it probably won’t be policy that sways the rest.
And if you think polls don’t matter - think again.
When the country heads to the ballot box on Saturday, most won’t be voting with their heads.
Despite attempts by all parties to push evidence-based politics, experts agree that politics is more of a battle for hearts.
Massey University professor of communication design Claire Robinson said 64 per cent of voters made up their minds well before an election campaign. ‘‘We call them blindly loyal. ‘‘They actually don’t look at any evidence, they just go by their gut and their experience and who they tended to vote for in the past.
‘‘It’s quite funny - you’ll find some very well-educated, highly intelligent, well-read policy people themselves who will claim they vote on policy, but actually don’t. They vote on heart and habit.’’
Late-deciding voters tended to be less attached to a particular party and were swayed by appearance, headlines, pictures, slogans and - in particular - polls.
‘‘You can’t really pick who is going to be attracted to what kind of cue.’’
It’s likely for this reason that the ‘‘evidence-based’’ mantra of Gareth Morgan’s The Opportunities Party continues to poll below 2 per cent.
Robinson sympathised with Morgan’s evidence-based plight, saying his party’s policies deserved wider discussion.
‘‘They want to show evidence because they haven’t got people who are blindly loyal to them … I think it’s pretty good that they’re hanging out at 2 per cent. Voters do start rewarding parties that stick around.’’
Independent political scientist Edward Elder said evidence failed as a key consideration at the ballot box because voters were motivated by desire.
‘‘The very basic fundamentals of advertising are that decisions are made on emotions backed up by reason.
‘‘Look at a car advert - they drive through the mountains and the streams, then they talk about fuel efficiency.’’