The UMR poll for the Auckland super-city mayoral race is interesting reading. The headline difference (PDF) of 11% towards Len Brown over John Banks has been extensively reported. The poll of 482 people, while small, is even more interesting when you see the breakdown of figures – and a lot worse for John Banks. The samples are small and therefore should be treated with considerable caution.
From the basis of the polling I’ve helped with over the last 20 years, and in particular with a knowledge of groups that vote in local body elections, some things stand out to me.
Predictably the best area results for John Banks are around Central Auckland, West Auckland, and on the North Shore where he trails Len Brown by only a few percentage points. However there are wide margins to Len Brown in the South, East, and the Rodney/Franklin edge areas.
The under-30’s, who aren’t great voters in local elections, favour John Banks by a few percent. However in all older age groups who do tend to vote in local elections considerably favour Len Brown.
As usual, males tend to have earlier decisions. However there is a very similar separation between the genders. John Banks is not favoured by either gender.
Occupational groups (with really small sample sizes) show a distinct preference to John Banks in service and sales workers and equal in blue collar. Neither group are strong local body voters. In the groups that do tend to vote, Len Brown has a solid lead.
The income sample appears to be over sampled at the higher and lower income levels. However, the best result for John Banks is in the lower economic groups and that is marginal below Len Brown. This is the income level least likely to vote in local body elections.
In the end, there is only one poll that actually counts. That is the vote late next year. However John Banks must be worried that he his best support is amongst the groups least likely to post their votes. That probably explains this observation by Brian Rudman :-
Mr Banks has tried to brush this setback aside, calling it a “shonky” survey by Labour Party pollsters and arguing that “no one really believes that a Labour candidate for the Auckland mayoralty can be that far ahead, with the National Party in Auckland 30 points ahead of Labour in every poll across Greater Auckland.”
But if that is so, why has he refused to reveal the results of his own polling “of 1500 people over two to three nights”. A survey conducted by the presumably non-shonky National Party pollster David Farrar.
The problem for John Banks is that he has strong name recognition. But he also has a very strong detestation ranking amongst people like myself. This is because, in my opinion, he is a do-nothing mayor who appears more concerned with where his mayoral car is parked than tackling the serious issues that Auckland has.
John Banks tenures in office have been marked more by a divide and rule approach to factionalism in the council and less by an ability to get the council working together. The extensive powers of the mayor under the super-city will mean that approach will grid-lock the decision making process in the city. This is a common perception across people who follow Auckland City local politics.
It appears that Len Browns decision to declare early is paying dividends. He is obviously picking up name recognition across the city. In April he was only on 6% to John Banks 17% amongst a wider group of possible candidates for Auckland mayor.
John Banks has usually won by encouraging people more liberal than himself to throw their hat into the ring and therefore splitting the vote to allow him to win. But so far this shows all the signs of being a two horse race. He must be praying that there is a split on the left/moderate vote. That appears to be one of the more stupid things that the left can do at present – but it has happened in the past.
There is a lot of work for the left to do between now and October 9th. There is 28% in the unsure, neither, and don’t know groups (not to mention the people who didn’t answer at all).