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NZES2014: New Zealand Election Study

posted on 03.10.2016, 05:09 by Jack Vowles, Hilde Coffe, Jennifer CurtinJennifer Curtin, Gerard CotterellGerard Cotterell, Martin von RandowMartin von Randow
The general election was held on 20 September, 2014. Its outcome was the re-election of a National Party-led government for a third term.

We generated new knowledge about relationships between psychological personality types and political behaviour, particularly for participation and civic engagement. We also tested the extent to which individuals' aspirations for economic advancement and their perceptions of job security or insecurity affect voting choices and turnout.

The study of personality types and mass political behaviour is rare in political science and psychology but is now increasing, and was included in NZES2014. While there is some evidence that personality may shape political inclinations, our main interest is in the correlates of personality types with political participation, and possible interactions with gender.

Those who identify a 'politics of aspiration' suggest that anticipations of economic advancement by individuals' own efforts could shape their political behaviour. This may be one reason why the association of income with political choice is often weak: people relate to their anticipations of future rather than present income. Yet aspirational effects may be offset by factors such as low job security. Drawing on a new measure of wealth and assets we can test these conjectures. Again, this plays into the analysis of turnout as lower incomes, and the lack of wealth and assets tend to be associated with failure to vote.


Victoria University of Wellington; New Zealand Electoral Commission; The University of Auckland



We sent out 7,500 questionnaires on 22 September 2014, the Monday after the General Election. These were sampled from the Electoral Rolls, acquired a few weeks earlier, in five components: 1. General Roll 30 years or under; 2. General Roll over 30 years; 3. Māori Roll 30 years or under; 4. Māori Roll over 30 years; 5. Panel members - who had completed the survey in 2011, and maybe in 2008 as well. The younger groups and the Māori Roll were oversampled assuming lower response rates from them. The panel sample was expected to provide a higher response rate. The Electoral Rolls are claimed to represent around 91% of the population that would be eligible to vote, and they include people living overseas, of which there were 85 in our sample. Questionnaires were sent with barcodes attached, so that we knew who had responded, and could take them off the list for followups, as well as enter them in the prize draws. Two weeks after the first mailout, reminder postcards were sent to those yet to respond. Two weeks after that, 5,600 people were sent a second copy of the questionnaire, so in that first month we got almost 2,000 back, either completed, or with notes of refusal or inability to complete, or with notes that the address was incorrect. We ultimately received 2,900 completed questionnaires, with 300 of those having responded online via SurveyMonkey. After checks to ensure that respondents were indeed the people we thought they were, the final data set was reduced to 2,835 records, an ultimate response rate of around 39%, after accounting for those mismatches and for those we could not reach because their addresses were incorrect on the rolls.


People on the New Zealand Electoral Rolls - aged 18 or over and at least a New Zealand Permanent Resident.

Mode of Collection

Self-completion (mail out, mail back); Internet survey.

Series Information

Through the analysis of political behaviour over 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. 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.

Publisher (e.g. University of Auckland)

The University of Auckland

Contact email


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