Poll shows reset in political spectrum


Amid Jacindamania and Labour’s stunning 33% poll result, it is worth remembering that when David Shearer was dumped in 2013 the party’s rating was about 34%.
Shearer went because the caucus felt that poll ratings in the mid-30s were unacceptable, and Shearer was a failure.
Its MPs wanted the party back in the 40-plus range where it could put up a credible challenge to National.
So while Jacinda Ardern has achieved a remarkable success by lifting her party nine points in two weeks, she still has some way to go before Labour becomes a real threat in its own right.
What the Newshub poll showed was that Labour supporters who deserted the party during Andrew Little’s reign are coming home.
They had gone to the Greens and New Zealand First, which both suffered serious losses in the poll.
The Greens dropped 4.7 points to 8.3% and NZ First dropped 3.8 points to 9.2%.
There was no reason, other than Ms Ardern, for NZ First to lose ground.
Leader Winston Peters has been working furiously hard to win votes, he has already held more than 50 public meetings around the country and the party has been free from scandals or any other negative publicity.
That indicates the fall in support for the Greens probably has more to do with Labour’s resurgence under Ms Ardern than Metiria Turei’s spectacular benefit fraud admission and the subsequent furore it generated.
The Opposition parties are now roughly back where they were before Labour started its slide into the red zone.
The Greens are down a bit, NZ First is up a bit, and Labour has recovered to around the mid-30s.
The big picture has not changed.
The Opposition parties are swapping supporters but Labour and the Greens are still well short of a majority in parliament.
NZ First still holds the balance of power.
Through all this, National has been relatively steady, with ratings ranging from the mid-40s to the 47% it won in the last election.
In Wednesday’s Newshub poll, it was on 44.4% a drop of 0.8 of a point.
It is not doing as well as it needs to, something Bill English is well aware of.
“We haven’t got the support level we need to form the sort of government we want for New Zealand,” he said this week.
National has work to do, and so does Ms Ardern.
She has shown she can draw back Labour’s supporters from the minor parties, but what she really needs to do is start cutting into National’s vote.
The Greens and NZ First are not likely to lose any more support, and surely the Greens can only go up from here.
James Shaw, now its only leader, says he expects it to recover to about 10% or 11% which is its usual territory.
Ms Ardern is well placed to begin the next phase of her mission.
Even more surprising than Labour’s nine point surge was her rating as preferred prime minister 26.3% compared with English’s 27.7%.
The polls in the next two weeks will tell the tale. If Ms Ardern can pass Mr English, Labour will gain huge momentum going into the campaign. NZN

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