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The long slide

Written By: - Date published: 6:34 am, February 20th, 2012 - 65 comments
Categories: john key, national, polls - Tags:

According to the latest 3 News poll, National’s long slide has begun:

National 47.5 (down 3.3)
Labour 29.4 (up 3.4)
Green 13.3
NZF 5.0
Conservative 1.4
Maori 1.3
Mana 1.3
ACT 0.2

Had these been the election results, National would not have been able to form a government without the support of the Maori Party. The news isn’t good for John Key either, in the preferred PM stakes:

John Key 45.8
David Shearer 10.1
Winston Peters 5.7%

That’s Key’s lowest result in this poll since taking office. It also debuts David Shearer at a higher rating than Phil Goff ever reached.

The 3 News video on this poll notes the obvious causes for the Nats’ decline. Key’s exploitation of an illegal radio show before the election. The public’s rejection of asset sales. The Maori Party’s threats to quit the government over the sales, and the Waitangi day protests. Unease over the sale of prime farm land to overseas interests, and the sharp reprimand from the High Court on this issue. Not mentioned but also significant, the further government backdowns on financial projections, and the news of further deep public sector cuts.

A pity that we the people didn’t wake up a few months earlier. We might have been spared what is starting to look like a long and painful 3 years ahead.

65 comments on “The long slide”

  1. Aye tis good news.

    I would like to actually credit Phil Goff for the trend.  He started the election campaign and his chances were poor.  He was written off by pretty well everyone.  Yet he stood up and took it to National and Key.  He showed that Key was not this omnipotent power and was actually quite human and the fact so many thought the debates were so close is something you would not have predicted.

    He helped dent Key’s credibility and this among with the stupidity that is the tea pot tapes saga had a significant effect.  National shed 8 percentage points of support during the campaign and only retained power by the barest of margins.  The support may not have gone Labour’s way but Goff did shake it loose.

    Goff also doubled his personal support.  Whoever decided in Labour not to have him on our billboards and not to push Phil did the party a disservice.

    Changes in political support do not happen overnight.  Kiwis tend to mull about things and need a reason to change.

    With Crafar farms and asset sales it looks like there is plenty for Kiwis to continue to get concerned about.  Labour’s job should now be to run with those campaigns.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1


    • McFlock 1.2

      Yeah – goff deserves a hearty thanks from the labour folks. The other thing he managed to do was provide an opportunity for labour to re-orient back into a material-good party of policies, rather than competing on Bland Key’s turf.

    • felix 1.3

      Absolutely micky, Phil was impressive throughout the campaign.

      Now if he’d started 18 months earlier…

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    I’ve been thinking that our 3 year parliamentary term is actually a de facto 6 year term for a new government. I’d back a move to a 4 year term on that basis.

  3. Carol 3

    Oh, and now Stuff/Tracy Watkins is doing her best to bolster Shonkey by doing a big sob story about the responsibilites of power and Key’s darkest moments during national crisis.

    Shame on you Watkins for such tabloid-ish, propaganda!

    The hardest decision that Prime Minister John Key had to make after his dash to Christchurch on February 22 was flying back to Wellington that night.

    “It felt a bit like I was abandoning them. There was nothing I could do more than we were doing. But it felt a funny thing leaving.”

    […]Although the Christchurch earthquake was the most devastating, it did not haunt John Key in the same way that the Pike River mining disaster still does.

    “I felt really sad for what had happened [in Christchurch]. It felt slightly different – there was something about Pike River that I just had this mental picture of those guys trapped underground. It’s an awful picture. I still sometimes get it. I don’t know why.

    And of course it’s all about Key, and how it affected him, not what he can and hasn’t done for the disaster victims and those close to them.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      the problem for Key is that the news from the Royal Commission has made Kiwis realise that a lot of stuff went wrong around Pike River which should have never gone wrong and could have been prevented. There is little heroic after-glow left to share around. Same with Christchurch. Its clear to all that the Christchurch rebuild has been put back once, twice, three times,…and more to come. I would not be surprised if by mid year Treasury announces that the Christchurch rebuild will only start hitting its straps in the second half of 2013.

      Basically, Key has already used up all the PR upside from these events which was available; there’s only downside left now.

      • Fortran 3.1.1

        Until Christchurch stops aftershocking (again today) and Earthquake Insurance becomes available, there will be no new CBD, as the Banks will not lend without Insurance.
        Sad but a fact – Insurers/Reinsurers lost thirteen times the New Zealand annual Fire & General premium in one loss. It will take many years sadly.

    • Campbell Larsen 3.2

      “there was something about Pike River that I just had this mental picture of those guys trapped underground. It’s an awful picture. I still sometimes get it. I don’t know why.”

      Shonkey – Talking up the horror for the relatives of the victims just so he can pretend to be a compassionate man – what a disgrace.

      Let me shed some light on why you still get that mental picture John – you haven’t kept your promise to those families and their lost ones. I hope they haunt you until you do.

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 3.3

      Key & Watkins are taking an absolute hammering in the comments below the Stuff article. Slip slidin’ away…

    • Roy 3.4

      A shallow, uncaring man trying to sound compassionate and caring, and failing dismally.

  4. Craig Glen Eden 4

    I have said for a long time that John Key is not that good it’s just Labour’s strategists are so poor.

    Its hard for Labour supporters to acknowledge this I know but just look at Mallards latest stuff up (scalping). What a idiot and yet this guy had a major role in the election campaign and the non selection of David Cunliffe as Labour’s leader. Key would struggle up against Cunliffe (and Key knows it) so what do the majority of our stupid MPs do but elect Shearer the ditherer. Seriously its like watching a never ending re run of the Simpsons.

    The longer Labour supporters sit round trying to make them selves feel better by blaming everyone else such as the media the longer Key the corporate hack will have to line the pockets of the super rich. National and Key make plenty of stuff ups but Labour does nothing to truly capitalize on the mistakes. This post is not an attack on Carol either above just for the record.

    • Carol 4.1

      I think Labour’s problems include a mix of the tendency for the MSM to take a right & pro-Key bias, and Labour’s strategies. The media bias just doesn’t impact on Labour but the left generally.

      Labour strategies in the last couple of years have pandered to, and attempted to compromise with the predominantly neoliberal-leaning media. This has resulted (at least partly) in selecting Shearer over Cunliffe, and keeping Goff off the billboards.

      PS: I haven’t voted for the Labour Party for many years. But other left parties such as The Greens and Mana suffer from the anti-left media bias too.

    • Hami Shearlie 4.2

      Agree with you, Craig of G.E. Cunliffe should definitely have been the leader. Still, it could still happen. Shearer is still looking and sounding unconvincing! Key would be trembling if Cunliffe was leader. Think it would make him leave much earlier!!

  5. ScottGN 5

    Best thing about this poll for me is that we are starting to see a straight up transfer of support from National to Labour for the first time since before Election 08.
    Also I can’t remember what Key’s approval rating was in the previous 3 News/Reid poll but I am pretty sure it was above 55% so that drop to 45% is significant.
    The polling period presumably finished in the middle of last week at the latest so doesn’t even represent the impact from the Crafar Farms decision.
    Love that 0.2% for ACT. Keep up the good work Mr Banks.
    I also agree with the comments above about Phil Goff but would add that I think that Key and Joyce are going to regret the way they sought to humiliate Garner with the press conference tantrum in the election campaign.

    • RedLogix 5.1

      Digging a little deeper into what you’ve just said; would you not think it also a little disturbing just how a small, yet very influential a handful of media personalities are in the political process?

      • ScottGN 5.1.1

        Absolutely agree with you RL. However it is still pleasing to see that Key’s cynical manipulation of the teapot tapes, privacy issues and intrusive News of The World press tactics etc could be pretty costly to him in the long run.

  6. duncan garner 6

    Gidday Anthony,

    Wait till you see the results of the breakout questions tonight – fascinating, with implications for the Crafar decision I would have thought.

    Key dropped four points in the Preferred PM rankings – in answer to ScottGN’s question.

    The most fascinating number is Key down 7.5% when we asked if he was “performing well.”

    It’s obviously a big drop – we’ve had him as high as 82% before.


    • RedLogix 6.1

      Just a quick question Duncan; you have the opportunity to see these guys in action up close far more than us ordinary folk. In your opinion; is Trevor Mallard an asset to the Labour Party or not? Sincere question.

      (I trust this won’t turn into a monster thread-jack…)

    • r0b 6.2

      Cheers Duncan, I’ll look out for that…

    • Treetop 6.3

      Duncan, I have been giving Mr Ambrose a bit of thought regarding how the police investigation is going.

      Do you have an update?

      It is 35 years this month since Colin Moyle resigned. To jog your memory the police held a file on Moyle when he had not been charged with an offence and then when Muldoon discovered that Moyle gave two accounts of the June 75 incident (involving a probationary cop) Muldoon leaned on the Minister of Police on 5 November 76 to summon the Police Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of the day to parliament.

      Another situation which I have some interest in is Patrick O’ Brien.

      Do you know how Detective Scott is going with O’Brien’s perjury inquiry?

      How many hours Scott has spent on the case?

      What Scott’s budget is?

      Whether or not Marshall cares about the image of the NZ Police regarding historical perjury confessions which people did time for or other rare cases where the police have caused severe psychological damage due to not adequately investigating a person’s historical complaint?

      As a TV journalist the above is what I want to know about from you. Not the constant praising of a PM whose government cannot balance the books.

  7. Blue 7

    Reid Research seriously need to sort out their website.


    ‘Helen Clarke’, ‘Peter Sharples’ and Rod Donald anyone?

    • McFlock 7.1

      Well, Winston’s made them gunshy about ruling anyone out…

    • If people are actually saying Rod Donald to them unprompted, then they absolutely need to record that in the results, despite his untimely death. No excuses for “Helen Clarke” and “Peter Sharples”, though.

      This is the best part:

      Our quality standards are open to the ultimate scrutiny!

      Kinda implies they kill people who make mistakes. Hope nobody’s head is on the chopping block for those spelling mistakes. 😛

  8. Craig 8

    Incumbency fatigue is starting to set in on the centre-right. It can only get worse for them. Witness the looming prospect of defeat for France’s Nicholas Sarkozy and his UMP centre-right administration, or Chancellor Merkel’s similar German problems with the Social Democrats and Greens.

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      The problem in Europe is that many of the “Left” or “socialist” parties seem as hell-bent on austerity and favouring bankers as the “Right”.

  9. duncan garner 9

    Re Trevor,

    I’ve always considered Trevor an asset but I’m thinking Trev’s no longer that.

    Just when the opposition parties had the Government on the ropes last week over Crafar, Trevor’s dodgy ticket selling explodes into a life of its own.

    So much so – that Shearer went missing last Thursday and didn’t front on Crafar, Trevor or anything else.

    If Shearer wanted to look like his own man and strong and decisive last week he could have fronted and said “it’s not good enough and I’m giving Trevor 6 months on the back benches – and I’ve indicated to him – this should be his last term.”

    He would have looked impressive – But Trevor helped him become leader and Shearer didn’t have the balls to do it.



    • Anne 9.1

      Add to Garner’s response… more lousy advice from the ‘failed’ strategists?

      • Olwyn 9.1.1

        On this one Anne, I disagree, and as you know, I was one of the people who supported Cunliffe. No one who does not know David Shearer personally has much idea as to where he actually stands, and throwing his weight around at this stage may make him look like a bit of a martinet, rather than the man in charge. The saga surrounding Chris Carter, for example, did nothing to enhance Phil Goff’s standing. What is more, the ticket issue is not that big a deal. It involved a small amount of money which Mallard paid back with an apology. Better to begin by finding opportunities to show good judgement, rather than by acting like an insecure ref, whose whistle is never far from his lips.

        • the sprout

          the amount of money is immaterial. what makes mallard look so bad is the hypocrisy of being the minister that passed anti-scalping legislation then going and doing it himself.
          that’s the problem.

          • Matthew Whitehead


            Not to mention that MPs are paid enough that they shouldn’t have the slightest temptation to scalp tickets regardless of whether it would be hypocritical or not.

    • Jackal 9.2

      Should Shearer have stepped up and done WHAT exactly re Trevor Mallard selling tickets on Trademe? Time on the back-benches for not reading the fine print… how god damn moronic! An end to a political career for doing something thousands of Kiwi’s do all the time? Retarded!

      You are basing your opinion on your bias Duncan… and appearing arrogant in professing to tell David Shearer what to do to promote your own political affiliations. The issue only exploded because people like you lit the fuse. In other words it was a diversion through media manipulation… perhaps you can tell me what the going price is for that?

      Why does Shearer need to “front” on the Crafar farms deal? The questions are already well known and it is for National to front up and answer them. Have they? No! Has the mainstream media given the fact that National did not adhere to the law in making its decision to sell the farms to Pengxin the attention it deserves? No! Did the MSM give much attention to the fact that Key’s office wrote the RadioLive script that allowed National an hour’s free promotion just before the election? No! Ad infinitum.

      Advice from a National hack on matters pertaining to Labour is about as stupid as it gets.

      • McFlock 9.2.1

        I’m probably about halfway between Duncan and Jackal.
        Mallard could have been dealt with via a bit of a one-liner for being a dick (obviously the exact phrasing needs to be polished a bit, or at least rolled in glitter). I think back-benching would be a bit too eager to please.
        Definitely more visibility on Crafar is needed – there’s a bit of an issue given labour did the China free trade deal, but that can be sidelined by simply focussing on the court judgement as requiring a “consistent” interpretation of the rules, and going into the wider issue of how much of our land do we actually want to sell.
        And the visibility is needed because Shearer is a politician – out of sight, out of mind. He doesn’t need to become the photo-op whore that Key is, but key’s compensating for a lack of policy and principle. If Labour rests on specifics, they can afford to be a bit less desperate about exposure – but they still need some.

        • Anne

          Mallard could have been dealt with via a bit of a one-liner for being a dick (obviously the exact phrasing needs to be polished a bit, or at least rolled in glitter.

          That is my position. An acknowledgment agreeing that Mallard needs to think before he acts sometimes.

      • felix 9.2.2

        “Advice from a National hack… “

        I don’t really think that’s fair to Duncan. There are plenty of criticisms you could level at his work but I don’t think political bias is one of them.

        I would describe it as sensationalist more than anything. He follows the blood.

        • Jackal

          Here’s a little video to jog your memory felix. Put that into context of National making their numbers up, and then let me know if Duncan ‘the National Hack’ Garner is biased or not?

          • Matthew Whitehead

            The problems in that piece were:

            a) Sensationalism.
            b) The view from nowhere, where Duncan didn’t fact-check statements and instead simply reported them verbatim.
            c) Being overly interested in politics and not actually looking at policy.

            National’s budgets objectively didn’t add up, and while there were minor issues with labour, in terms of policy Labour trounced national on the economy last election- it was just never reported that way. Also John Key’s challenge around Labour’s numbers was quite unfair as they were waiting for his government’s own figures to use as a basis for comparison, and a journalist with some courage could have pointed that out in an opinion piece.

            None of those are outright bias, just bad journalistic practice, and they’re all underlying themes of mainstream New Zealand political journalism, so it’s not exactly a personal failing either. Duncan Garner is usually a pretty fair actor in terms of partisan issues, but he’d be fairer if he took some leadership and applied some higher journalistic standards to his work than the rest of the commentariat do.

    • burt 9.3

      A privileged white guy on $170k a year re-selling tickets to young people for profit – He’s the 1% !!!!!!

      But It’s different when Labour do it !

      • McFlock 9.3.1

        thanks for that, Burt,
        But I’m not entirely sure it was relevant to the comment you were replying to.

      • Te Reo Putake 9.3.2

        Weak, Burt.
        Apart from pointing out that technically what he did wasn’t illegal, Mallard has got a roasting from the left over his thoughtlessness and his greed. Traits that are usually treated as badges of honour on the right and not subject to any sort of criticism, of course.

    • sweetd 9.4


      Are you a political reporter or political commentator?

  10. Craig 10

    The moral of the story is that one can only blame the current Opposition and international conditions for their own economic and social policy mismanagement for so long…

  11. Anne 11

    Shearer’s problem is his inability to articulate properly on TV. He is in desperate need of professional media training. At the moment voters are doing the kiwi thing… giving him a go regardless.


    Setting aside the humour, Edwards and Cunningham are two of the best media trainers in the country. Looks like the same ‘failed’ strategists are still calling the shots… a case of the sulks because Edwards “changed his mind” and supported Cunliffe last year?

    • Jackal 11.1

      You’re reading the Brian Edwards piece incorrectly if you think that. It’s not meant to be taken literally… he is mocking the NZ Herald article with effective tounge in cheek sarcasm. As to Shearer’s inability to articulate properly, I’ve not seen any evidence of that.

      • Anne 11.1.1

        I am well aware Edwards was mocking the Herald writer hence the “setting aside the humour” comment. But what the piece also seemed to indicate is that Shearer is still not receiving the badly needed professional media training. I do not doubt he has the potential to be a damm good Labour leader and PM and I’m as hopeful as the next person it’s going to happen – and soon.

        Shearer’s inability to articulate properly, I’ve not seen any evidence of that.
        Did you watch Shearer’s performance on the TV3 poll piece last night? It was embarrassingly disjointed.

  12. Craig 12

    Never mind, there’s still Grant Robertson if David S doesn’t work out in the end…and the upshot is that generational change has occurred in Labour. I’d be more charitable about David S and argue that his reticence may be teething problems more than anything else. I do agree about the media management comments, though.

    • Kevin Welsh 12.1

      I think Andrew Little is the long-term answer. Articulate, engaging, and you are under no illusions on where he stands when it comes to workers rights.

      Cunliffe and Little (or Little and Cunliffe) would see my vote go from green to red.

  13. Te Reo Putake 13

    I’d have to say that Shearer is doing magnificently even if he doesn’t seem to be doing much at all. To get to double figures in the preferred PM at the first crack is a very good sign. There is no indication that the Greens are making similar leadership headway; the public clearly still see the PM’s role in FPP terms, Nat vs Labour (with the occasional nod to Winnie).
    So what wwe have here is the golden shine coming off brand Key and the cheap brass underneath coming to the surface. And the various opposition party’s need to continue to throw the borax at him.
    Labour, NZF and the Greens should taunt Key for all its worth with a call for a snap election over asset sales and land ownership. Call him a chicken, a lame duck, a busted flush, whatever needling works, but just hammer the snap election line. Ask him to prove he has a mandate. Make Key look weak, tired and untrustworthy. It’s what did for Brown in the UK and it will work on Key here.

    • Pete 13.1

      The jury is still out on Shearer, as far as I’m concerned. If Labour can consistently poll around the 35% mark by the end of 2012, then I will consider him a success.

    • Colin Preston 13.2

      I’d have to say that Shearer is doing magnificently even if he doesn’t seem to be doing much at all.

      I had somewhat higher expectations of a Labour leader. So far Shearer has done sweet FA. The way he’s going, if he wins it’ll be because of Key’s unpopularity and nothing to do with Shearer’s ‘efforts’.

  14. ianmac 14

    Te Reo Putake:”So what wwe have here is the golden shine coming off brand Key and the cheap brass underneath coming to the surface.”
    Err correction. Should read “cheap plastic underneath…”

  15. js 15

    You guys here might not like him very much, but I have detected a lot of goodwill towards Shearer out in non affiliated voter land. They seem to like that he is easy going, has a good back story, and stands up for values rather than being politically adversarial. His suggestions like saying ‘Happy Waitangi Day’ appeal to those who don’t generally follow politics.

    • Colonial Viper 15.1

      I think that’s demonstrated by good preferred PM numbers from Shearer. Next question: will Labour be trusted with managing the economy and the jobs situation in these difficult times?

      His suggestions like saying ‘Happy Waitangi Day’ appeal to those who don’t generally follow politics.

      Waitangi Day is usually referred to as a commemoration. How happy is that?

  16. burt 16

    This is great news…. My vision of the major parties having no more than about 30 seats each is starting to head toward reality…. Long may the slide continue.

  17. coolas 17

    Shearer’s a bit bumbling at times but he’s coming across as sincere. He has gravitas as opposed to Key’s banality, and over time this’ll become very obvious, and appealing to people.

    Key’s gloss is wearing thin and most of his Ministers have become smug and complacent. I’ll reckon there’ll be some corruption exposed soon that’ll see a Minister go down. My bet is McCully and the NZAid funding. Key will handle it badly and his popularity will plummet.

    When things start coming apart my preferred drama is Dunne crossing the floor with the Maori Party over asset sales.

  18. Shazzadude 18

    Of note is that 5% is the highest the TV3 poll has had New Zealand First in over 6 years (they’ve long understated their support).

    This combined with the Roy Morgan show the trend is definitely down for National, and up for Labour.

  19. Tanz 19

    Good luck always runs out, Teflon also., wears thin. Thank John Banks for that.

  20. NattyM 20

    John Key’s popularity slipping? Never mind, his PR machine aka the Fairfax Dominion Post cranked into ACTion this morning with a front page sop to John and how devastated he felt leaving Christchurch after the earthquake. Then let’s just chuck in something about Pike River for good measure. Good old John, man of the people.
    What a load of old cobblers and how in hell such a piece of simpering non-news ended up as the front page story, I’ll never know. But wait, perhaps it had something to do with all the bad news and increasingly poor outcomes of outdated National Party ideology coming to light. Quick, better bury that on page 2 (Hawkes Bay DHB frontline staff cuts) or even deeper in the bowels of the paper.

  21. Te Reo Putake 21

    As promised by Duncan Garner, 3News has confirmed that Key has a monumental problem down on the farm, with 76% of respondents opposed to the sale of the Crafar Farms. And, importantly, Nat voters agree, with only 28% in favour.
    Very interesting watching the video, with Key trying to smug his way out of the question, suggesting its jolly tough for Johnny Foreigner to buy land here already and they’ve only flogged off 72 farms in 18 months. Without saying just how big those 72 farms were, of course. Now, I’m used to being talked down to by Key, but I’m not sure that the 69% of Tory voters who apparently don’t want our future flogged off are going to enjoy being patronised in that way.
    Snap election, please, John, and you can be back home in Hawaii before daylight savings kicks in over here.

    Edit: Big ups to Duncan Garner, more please. To show my gratitude, here’s the first line of your piece tomorrow:

    “Following 3News’s poll shock over the Crafar farm sales, PM John Key now faces calls for a snap election over asset sales, with at least one anonymous poster at Lefty blog Teh Standard claiming he has lost his mandate ….” The rest just writes itself …

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