Pollwatch: A new poll for TVNZ is being called dismal for Labour and Little. And it is. But it’s not all rosy for National, either, writes Toby Manhire.
There’s no getting around it: this evening’s Colmar Brunton poll for TVNZ is for the Labour Party, if you’ll forgive the technical language, pretty shithouse. With two and a half months to polling day, a drop to 27%, especially following the sustained buffeting for Bill English and the National Party over Todd Barclay, is bad.
It gets worse: Andrew Little is back in fourth place in the preferred PM stakes, have dropped three percentage points to 5%. He trails his own deputy leader, Jacinda Ardern (unchanged on 6%), New Zealand First leader Winston Peters (up four to 11%), and the prime minister and National Party leader Bill English, who has slipped three points to 26%.
Labour can at least be grateful it’s not been part of the I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I exchange of the last couple of days between the Green Party and New Zealand First. Although Labour is, of course, an indirect participant: the to-and-fro has seen Green co-leader Metiria Turei condemn (not for the first time) the “very racist approach to immigration” from Peters, with Peters and co deciding it’s time to respond furiously defending their position, and implicitly that of their supporters, while denouncing the Greens as separatists. In one sense it’s a kind of stress testing for a change-the-government alternative, which would require Labour, the Greens and NZ First to share a bed, or at least reach some kind of accommodation.
To revive that Eminemesque boat metaphor that served National’s campaign so well last time round, the problem for a Labour-Green-NZ-First trio that this poll warns of is rudderless leadership. And if Winston goes into the election with more than twice the popular support than the Labour leader, that can only add to speculation of a Prime Minister Peters, aka The Borgen example.
Either way, on the basis of this latest poll, the likelihood remains that New Zealand First will hold the balance of power. The headline numbers, and the change from the last CB/TVNZ poll:
National 47 (-2)
Labour 27 (-3)
Greens 11 (+2)
NZ First 11 (+2)
Maori Party 2 (+1)
Opportunities Party 1 (NC)
ACT 1 (NC)
For Labour, who will be hoping to get on to the front foot when they release their families package tomorrow, the latest poll is “a pretty disastrous result this far out from the election”, said Corin Dann on the television.
But how good is it all for National? On the one hand, tremendously good: to remain firmly in the high-40s in the twilight of a third term is hugely impressive. And yet, the engine failure in Labour may disguise at least some frailty on the part of the blue team and its own leader’s appeal. Because if you compare the Colmar results of today with those of July 2014, the same distance from the last election, the numbers look a little less bulletproof.
National then: 52% Now: 47%
Labour then: 28% Now: 27%
Greens then: 10% Now: 11%
NZ First then: 4.5% Now: 11%
And in the preferred PM stakes …
National leader then (Key): 48% Now (English): 26%
Labour leader then (Cunliffe): 8% Now (Little): 5%
NZ First leader then (Peters): 3% Now (same guy): 11%
From that perspective, no one looks a winner. Except, of course, for this guy: