Pollwatch: the latest numbers, and Andrew Little’s response, have led to a welter of commentary on Labour’s predicament – including, on the Spinoff, here and here and here – but if only for a quick change of scenery, here are a few other observations worth noting.
It is just possible you’ve noticed that the New Zealand Labour Party is not faring all that well. There has been quite a lot of evidence for this. Including the latest poll, from Newshub, which puts the party on its lowest number ever in a Reid Research poll for the network, 24.1%, a shocker on par with the Colmar Brunton / 1 News result from a night earlier, also an all-time low. The Greens, following Metiria Turei’s admission that she lied to Winz, has seen them enjoy an – associated, presumably – rise. But enough about all that. What else is to be found in the insatiable search for the learnings and the takeaways?
1. Winston, Winston, burning bright
The astounding impression New Zealand First has made of late is easy to overlook amid the thing with Labour which we’re not mentioning in this post. The party was unchanged on 11% in the 1 News poll on Monday, but that is still remarkable. Newshub, meanwhile, has Squad Winston up a stonking 3.6% to 13%, while the UMR poll for the Labour Party leaked yesterday to Fairfax was said to show NZ First as high as 16%. They are sitting pretty, all but certain to hold the balance of power.
Because it’s fun, and maybe even illuminating, to compare with the similar stage in 2014, try this: then, NZ First was averaging, across Colmar Brunton and Reid Research, 4.4%. They went on, following the attentions of a campaign, to record pretty much double that, 8.7%. Their average today is 12%. Double that is… a lot.
2. Not all rosy for National
Obviously it’s pretty great for the leading party of government that the leading party of opposition appears locked in something which we’re not mentioning in this post but begins with clusterf and ends in uck. Yet – and this is really just a corollary of the point above – National are measurably diminished from the same point three years back.
Then, the average of the two main television polls put the party on 50.7%. Today, that reads 46%. Still hell of an impressive feat for a third term government, but a discernible drop. In 2014, taking the mean of the two TV polls, their lead over a Labour-Green combo was 11.7 points; today it is 8.
3. Opportunities knock
Not even the Scaramouchesque efforts on Twitter by comms director Sean Plunket have dimmed the rise of the Opportunities Party. With 2% in both this week’s polls, Gareth Morgan’s political project is in decent shape as it gears up for the campaign proper.
The Conservative Party, led by a millionaire with a rather different philosophical outlook, was registering around 2.2% eight weeks out from the 2014 election, and they fell just short of the 5% threshold, having been derailed by scandal in the last week of the campaign. It’s still a mountain to climb, but TOP’s got its boots well laced up.
4. Minnows be minnows
ACT and United Future were given the papal blessing by Bill English the other day, even though he couldn’t even remember the name of Peter Dunne’s party. Vote Dunne and David Seymour in their electorates, he said, denying teapots around the country their moment in the limelight. They’ll need to win those constituency seats, too, because their current chances of winning anything more look barely above zilch.
Indeed, none of the parties that loyally prop up National in government have any poll love coming their way. The Māori Party, hovering just over 1%, need Te Ururoa Flavell to hold Waiariki. Across the two TV polls United Future is averaging a whopping 0.2%. And ACT, which has been lampooning Labour for its polling, is averaging 0.4%, ie about one-sixtieth of Labour’s piss-poor number.
5. Memorandum of undecided
Newshub doesn’t publish the undecided numbers from its Reid polling, but Colmar Brunton does. Three years ago, undecided was sitting on 10%. Today, that is 16%.
Roy Morgan, meanwhile, records a similar, if less pronounced trend. In 2014, its undecided figure was a consistent 5.5%. Now it’s 8.5%. Obviously, there’s nothing like a guarantee that those undecideds will magically break one way or the other, but it’s something for the embattled to aim for, or cling to, and cling they will.