Politics

Fiscal hole, meet shitsville poll

Pollwatch: National drops into the 30s as Labour charges on after Joyce attack on their numbers.

It seems longer, but it was this time last week that Bill English and Jacinda Ardern were debating for the first time in the campaign, immediately following the release of the astonishing Colmar Brunton poll for 1News. Astonishing because it put Labour ahead of National for the first time in 12 years.

Both parties, however, said at the time that their own internal polling did not put National behind, and that was backed up by the Reid Research poll for Newshub, which showed National retaining a lead of a couple of points. Research for that poll was conducted over a longer period than the Colmar Brunton bombshell, but both finished up on August 31.

All of that is a long-winded way of trying to say that the Colmar Brunton poll last week looked a little out of step, and I was expecting Labour might slip back somewhat tonight.

Nope.

National down to a number that begins with 3 is remarkable. And trailing Labour by four – the momentum continues. The fieldwork for the poll ran from Saturday to last night, so a good chunk encompasses both the Newshub debate and Steven Joyce’s “fiscal hole” fiasco. We can’t know for sure whether Joyce’s tactic has backfired with the public, but it’s safe to say it hasn’t fired.

It was another pre-debate thud for English, who also sees Ardern building a lead in the preferred PM stakes. And in the opening part of the Press debate, at least, he struggled.

For Labour, a coalition with NZ First would take them across the line on these numbers. With the Greens and the Māori Party, who have rebounded up to 2%, it could be doable, too – although watching Marama Fox and Kelvin Davis interact at the Spinoff debate last night it’s helluva hard to imagine them working together around the cabinet table. And on 5% the Greens would be safe, but they’re gripping on by their fingertips and need a big push in the last fortnight.

On these numbers, to have a hope of forming a governing, National would need to look to New Zealand First and the Māori Party, and given the slimness of the likely majority, probably ACT, too.

Remember that boat ad from 2014 with a sleek blue crew against a polychromatic rabble? Labour could give that another whirl – just as long as they changed the colours. And the soundtrack.

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