Today’s Herald-Digi poll is the first to be released that was taken after the secret agenda tape scandal had fully emerged and had some time to sit in voters’ minds. Which makes it worrying reading for National. They have lost 5.4% support (54.4% to 50%) and Labour has benefited from that loss picking up 5.5% (30.8% to 36.3%). As with the other polls this month, the gap between the two parties is closing but this is by far the biggest narrowing; National’s lead has dropped from 24.6% to 13.7%.
To be fair, the last Herald Digipoll was out of step with the rest of the polls, showing Labour falling in July, while the other had it’s support bouncing back from the low 30s to mid 30s. So, in part, this poll is probably correcting that divergence. Nonetheless, 5% shifts and an 11% closing of the gap are highly unlikely to result from statistical variance. It seems likely we are seeing voters’ mistrust of National and their secret agenda starting to flow through into voting intentions. If National’s support keeps falling, even at a slower rate, they will rapidly find themselves in a position where they don’t have options to form a government despite being the largest party – if National doesn’t poll over 46% it will struggle for want of allies to form a government.
New Zealand First ought to worry too. Their support has dropped significantly, from 4.1% to 2.1%. Remember, these numbers are from before any impact from the Privileges Committee hearings and the Owen Glenn letter could be felt. (it is now in National’s interest to see NZF not return to Parliament and create a large wasted vote; the larger the wasted vote, the less close to 50% National needs to poll to govern. Hence, Key’s change of stance on Peters).
The other minor parties have bounced around a little but it’s probably more statistical noise than anything significant. The Greens are the only minor party to poll over 5%.
The next poll up is the Roy Morgan, due out today or tomorrow, it will be interesting to see how its trend moves.