John Armstrong quotes a man who ran into Phil Goff during Labour’s reconnection tour last week:
“Listen, mate. You know we voted these guys in seven months ago. You don’t expect us to come up and say we did the wrong thing yet, do you?”
Now, Armstrong takes that as dooming Labour but look at the exact words. The guy is not coming from a point of view that Key is doing well or that Key needs to be given a chance or that he wants Key to be PM for life. He’s saying ‘you can’t expect me to admit I made a mistake so soon’. Now, surely, within that statement is a tacit admission of mistake or, at least, a worry that one may have been made. It confirms that support for National is soft.
Remember, Labour’s only needs to win back the 6-7% of voters who supported them three out of the last four elections, plus a share of former New Zealand First voters. According to the latest Roy Morgan poll (which has Labour at its highest level of support since the election), a swing of just over 8% in over two years would be enough for Labour and the Greens to govern. Add the Maori Party (likely to swing left when Turia leaves at the end of this term) and a majority really isn’t so distant. Labour just has to keep on chipping away.
I wouldn’t worry about Goff’s preferred PM rating either. It’s to be expected it would start low. Remember Key’s year long undermining of Brash – he started off in single digits as preferred PM and was only in the teens when he became leader two years out from the election. Clark was over 50% at the time. Goff’s support is growing quickly and it will continue to grow.
It’ll be a tough grind, for sure, but keep putting one foot in front of the other, show that you stand beside people, don’t make unforced errors, and there’s no reason why the Left can’t eventually get back those supporters and win in 2011.