A Spinoff/SSI poll shows National’s support slipping in Auckland. Tim Murphy looks at why the blue tide might be going out in our biggest city (Hint: it has something to do with a housing Apocalypse).
One intriguing result from this week’s Spinoff-SSI poll of voters is that the Government’s lead in the party vote has fallen considerably from the general election 21 months ago.
In November 2014, National won 48.6% of the party vote in Auckland, to Labour on 27.7, the Greens on 9.7 and NZ First on 6.8%.
In last week’s SSI poll, National was all the way down to 42.6% of decided voters, with Labour up at 32.7, the Greens on 11 and NZ First on 10.4.
Yes it might be comparing apples and pears to chart an actual polling booth result almost two years ago with an online poll conducted mid-term – but it is still a fascinating change for a party that was Bond-Murray unbeatable. National has dropped six points, Labour’s up five and the Greens up two, with NZ First up nearly four.
It doesn’t need Paddy Gower to tell you that in Auckland at least, Team Labour-Greens would by themselves out-point Team National. AND, yes, Winston would be Paddy’s kingmaker.
What’s driving National’s malaise in Auckland? Well, you could hazard a guess or two and you’d be right.
The Auckland housing affordability and availability controversy was deemed a ‘crisis’ by 84% of Spinoff-SSI respondents. In some ways it was amazing that 10.3% said no to that question, unless they were signed-up members of the Young Nats’ Ostrich branch. Even within National voters, 73% declare it a crisis – 3 in 4 of them rejecting National’s refusal to accept the word.
Asked what should be the main priority for the new Auckland Council, 50.7 per cent said housing, way above the 33 going for Auckland’s undisputed number one problem forever, public transport. One in three respondents had considered moving out of the city because of house prices and a big majority favoured the new higher density Unitary Plan.
And asked why we have a housing crisis, those polled opted for foreign investors at 55.7% and then, critically, government inaction at 39.6. No one else controls the foreign investors, so chalk both those answers as negative to the National-led government.
Put another way, the government’s failings on this most important issue were blamed by Aucklanders more than the dreaded ‘developers and speculators’ at 38.5%. Respondents were allowed to select more than one cause of the crisis, but interestingly, fewer than 10% took the bait and opted to call out ‘selfish NIMBY baby boomers’ for being part of the problem.
National’s issue in Auckland from this poll isn’t that Labour MP Phil Goff looks a shoo-in, with 60% of decided voters to Vic Crone’s 15, John Palino’s 7.9 and Mark Thomas 3.3. Goff was always favoured. Almost 45% of those polled were “don’t knows” – but in local elections those who don’t bother to vote are higher still.
The fact the centre-right trio put together would muster less than half Goff’s vote is chastening. Palino managed more than 100,000 votes for the centre-right last election against Len Brown on his own. Before the Ngati Whatua room scandal.
No, National’s problem is that this ugly housing crisis and its ugly twin of resistance to foreign investment and immigration isn’t going away any time soon. Lose the top of your party vote in Auckland, with Labour making ground, and the picture for the general election in 2017 looks like, walks like and quacks like a crisis.
The latest nationwide political poll, this month’s Reid Research-Newshub survey had Labour sitting about the same as the SSI result in Auckland at 32.7 – for National, its 45.1% countrywide figure suggests it might be Auckland at 42.6 in SSI that is weighing it down. Does the housing bubble turn out to be an anchor?