The latest ONE News / Colmar Brunton poll is bad for Labour, down 7 to 27% , while the Nats are up 1 to 53%. We’ve seen Labour bouncing around in other polls, so time will tell if this is a rogue, or a genuine drop in support.
One thing that the poll isn’t is a verdict on is Labour’s CGT policy. The excitable Mr Espiner asks “Has Labour’s ‘bold game-changer’ backfired?” (video link). Espiner notes that the polling period ended last week before Labour’s official announcement of the policy, but still tries to spin the poll drop as a reaction to the pre-announcement speculation about the leaked details.
Only two problems with that line. (1) Before the official announcement the discussion was mostly within the “beltway” of those who follow politics in detail, unlikely to be reflected (especially so quickly) in a general poll. (2) The majority of the lost Labour vote has gone to the Greens. If it was a protest against CGT, why would that protest vote move to the Greens, who are long term proponents of CGT? Makes no sense.
CGT is supported by almost every credible economic commentator and Bill English. CGT will be a vote winner for Labour, if they can get the message that it is better for the overwhelming majority through to the public. It’s better because it pays for a tax free $5000 of income, it pays for GST of fresh food, it lets us keep our own assets (and the income stream that they generate), it’s better because it redirects investment to more productive options than housing bubbles. Continuing two weeks of good coverage for Labour on CGT, on Saturday John Armstrong wrote:
Chalk this one up as something of a triumph for Phil Goff. So far, at least. … Goff has for the first time – and at the right time – tactically outmanoeuvred John Key and National. It is hard to envisage how Goff could have handled the very difficult politics that inevitably flow from promoting such a complex and contentious tax any better than he has done.
… National has found it extremely difficult to land a substantial hit on Labour. It has found it difficult because Labour has anticipated where National’s attacks would be directed and moved to smother them in advance. …
National concedes that Labour’s promotion of the tax was always going to get the tick of approval from some economists, think tanks and academics. National did not count on that endorsement being so strong. The endorsement has come from across the political spectrum, thereby making Goff’s push for the tax look less political and motivated more by what might be in the national interest. …
What the policy has definitely done is revitalise Goff. He is suddenly making the running. Labour might not yet win the war over a capital gains tax. Goff sure as heck has won the early battles. The question is whether he can keep doing so.
So in short yes the current poll is bad for Labour, and not great for the Left. But it doesn’t tell us anything about the impact of Labour’s move on CGT. Jenny points out in comments that this poll will make an interesting baseline for gauging reaction in future polls. But only the election will give us a verdict.
Update: Apparently the undecided in this poll was 14%. That is rather relevant polling information – I wonder why it was left out? [lprent]