PoliticsSeptember 3, 2017

A sobering poll for the Jacindamaniacs as the great drag race roars on


Pollwatch: An eagerly awaited Reid poll for Newshub gives National a slim lead, but the most fascinating numbers are NZ First’s.

The Colmar Brunton / 1News poll on Thursday night that put Labour ahead of National for the first time in 12 years had heads spinning through the first leaders’ debate and deep into the night. But both parties said – National more eagerly than Labour – that their own polling didn’t show a change to a red lead. Tonight’s Reid Research poll for Newshub falls into line with those internal results. Labour under Jacinda Ardern may not be permanently meteoric, after all.

Here’s how it looks:

It’s still bad for National – their lowest total in 10 years in this poll – and confirms that this is an election between the two big beasts of New Zealand politics: a “drag race”, as Bill English has described it over and over again in the last week. This result will give him some succour, however: the bottom is not falling out, and in contrast to the Thursday poll, English here remains the preferred prime minister, by 30.1% to Ardern’s 29.9%.

That said, it’s kind of incredible to think that this could be construed as a disappointment for a Labour Party that just the other day were weeping in the doldrums.

Left spluttering in the  drag-race fumes are NZ First and the Greens. A 6.1% result will come as a relief for many Green supporters, though it’s still not far enough above the 5% threshold for comfort, especially given the tendency for polls to overstate their backing.

But while the Greens’ collapse has been discussed at length, that has drowned out most discussion of NZ First’s own problems, particularly according to the Reid/Newshub poll. Across two surveys, Winston Peters’ party support has halved, a collapse just about as prodigious as the Greens’. Two months ago, NZ First registered a lofty 13%. Today that is 6.6%. Were these numbers to be realised on September 23, they’d still hold most of the cards: it is highly unlikely either Labour or National could form a government without their support.

In fact, when you put those two polls together, the July 31 result and the September 3 result, National’s vote is by some distance the most solid, with Labour appearing to have sucked the wind out of the Green and Winston sails.

Newshub/Reid on July 31 (left) and on September 3

But let’s (why not) try taking the mid-point of the Colmar Brunton poll, published three days ago …

… and tonight’s result (nb Colmar Brunton surveyed August 26-30; Reid, August 22-30). That leaves us with the following:

National 42%

Labour 41%

NZ First 7.5%

Green 5.5%

TOP 1.5%

Māori Party 1%

The Māori Party on this outcome would probably return two MPs to parliament again, but that could be an important two, with a Labour-Green-Māori ensemble, absent NZ First, on this poll just a few seats short of a possible majority. (For more on this scenario, see Morgan Godfery’s analysis.)

ACT continues to languish at around half a percent. David Seymour has almost no chance of yellow company in parliament. And barring some kind of miracle, TOP, which has declined in both polls, is finished. Five per cent again proves itself one hell of a slope to climb.

Read more from the Spinoff’s bumper election jukebox here

Keep going!