National Party pollster, sorry, right-leaning independent commentator David Farrar has been polling in Epsom and the results are not good for the Right. Epsomites are pissed off with their seats being used as a backdoor for ACT into Parliament. They don’t like the gall of the Nats taking out Hide, slotting in Banks and expecting nothing to change. They don’t like dopey Brash.
Farrar is notorious for delivering the poll results that his clients want, so the results in this poll and the fact they’ve leaked is interesting.
Apparently, Farrar asked a three scenario question: would you vote for Banks if a) National was polling over 50% (ie able to govern out-right), b) if National was polling at 47.5% (on the cusp of governing alone), c) if National was polling 45% (needing a partner to govern).
The poll shows Banks might win if it is clear National needs ACT but otherwise he definitely won’t. That shows how pissed off Epsomites are. If they vote for Banks, it will be with gritted teeth.
What will be making Joyce and the other Right ‘masterminds’ who decided that rolling Hide was a good idea sweat is that the voters of Epsom might not realise that National needs ACT. Right now, it doesn’t look like National will need help to govern, so the voters will be deciding they don’t need to vote for Banks. If, as everyone expects, National’s support drops below 48-50% in the closing weeks, it might be too late for enough of those voters to change their mind.
More than that, Farrar’s dodgy ‘scenarios’ are a bit dodgy as a polling technique. A better sign of what will happen is just asking people who they support now, not asking them to guess about their reactions if some hypothetical events take place. People simply don’t know how they would actually react. When you strip away the ‘scenarios’, what the poll is saying is ‘we don’t want Banks’.
Without a doubt, this poll does significant damage to ACT’s hopes. Which is why it is so interesting that it leaked so prolifically (I had heard about the poll from 3 different sources before getting the details this morning). Is the hope to scare Espmonites back to Banks? Or have some in National decided that if ACT is going out anyway it’s better to stomp it to death now and reduce the amount of the Right’s party vote that is wasted?
PS. As I’ve been writing this, I’ve seen Banks interviewed on The Nation. Let’s just say he’ll be glad that the show rates so low because any Epsom voters who were watching will not be voting for him now after the glimpse he gave into what a shambles ACT has become.
Banks refused to unequivocally rule out that Brash could be rolled and replaced with himself or Hide. Banks is experienced enough to know that anything less than completely ruling out a coup in a situation like this will be taken as evidence of a coup. There’s the chance of a leadership change barely a month from the election!
It was also revealed that Banks is vetting Brash’s activities – he vetoed a welfare speech and forced Brash to withdraw from a coming debate on the Treaty. Banks will only let Brash talk about the economy. The interview clearly showed that Banks is de facto leader and may actually be leader before the election. That does serious damage to the already crippled brands of Brash and ACT. Who would vote for the fiasco that ACT has become? Especially if they’re a natural National voter?
Add it all together and there’s a range of nice scenarios for the Left looking ever more likely:
Ah, happy days.