The latest Roy Morgan poll shows little impact from the Darren Hughes affair to date. We still don’t know how the investigation will play out but the poll suggests dithering leadership matters less than economic fundamentals. The big news, though, is that New Zealand First would be back under these numbers.
Here are the numbers:
So, little change in the Left vs Right balance but the crucial point is that NZF is on 5% and would be back in Parliament. A Lab/Green/NZF alliance has 44% to Nat/ACT’s 53%. The gap has been smaller in the past but the trend is closing. And it’s NZF doing the work. So far this year, NZF has averaged 4.1% in the Roy Morgan’s compared to 2.5% at the same point last year.
NZF presents a conundrum for National. If the trend continues and they get back in it gives a real chance of a Labour-led government but if National is expends time and resources attacking Winston Peters all it does is give a him larger platform. And exposure is all for his popular messages is all that Peters is lacking at the moment, hampered by not being in Parliament.
Add a Hone-led Left Party to the mix, or Hide losing Epsom, and things get really interesting.
The other measure to watch is the Confidence in Government. This peaked at 155 (that is net 55% think the country is heading in the right direction) in late 2009. Now, the number is 125. In other words, about one in six Kiwis have gone from thinking the country is doing well to thinking it’s going badly in just over a year. This measure is seen as a leading indicator of support for government parties and it’s sinking.
The missing piece of the puzzle for the Left remains Labour. The 4-5% that the Left needs to take from the Right needs to be won by Labour. The asset sale debate alone could turn that many people, if Labour does a good job. If Labour can poll in the mid to late 30s, then Phil Goff can lead a government with the Greens and New Zealand First (and Peter Dunne, as if he counts).
So can Labour win back half or more of the voters that voted for it for three elections from 1999 to 2005 but who voted for the ‘brighter future’ lie in 2008? Why not? It’s not as if they have any reason to vote for John Key’s hollow promises again.