Turnaround is fair play

Written By: - Date published: 7:41 am, July 29th, 2011 - 30 comments
Categories: elections, polls - Tags:

Some are linking Labour’s polling to National’s in 2002. Well, I think it’s worth remembering the other side of the 2002 polls. Labour’s support plunged 13% in the last month of the campaign from 50%+ support to the point where a Nat-led government was a real threat. Then, there was 1996, where Labour went from polling 4th to losing by a hair.

In 2002, it seemed like Labour might be about to put the stake through the vampiric heart of the odd foe. National was in the teens, while Labour polled into the late 50s with the Greens, Alliance, and Progressive as potential supporters to its left. Helen Clark was the most popular PM on record, with support levels the same as John Key’s today.

Then it all started to come apart. It wasn’t so much National, who regained only a few percent. It was the minors. People didn’t want to give Labour all that power but didn’t want National, whom they had just thrown out after 9 years.

The problem was, so many people shifted from supporting Labour to backing NZF, the Greens, and, most dramatically, UF that Labour nearly ended up losing. Sure, it looks in retrospect like it was a walk over for Labour, when you only look at the Labour and National numbers, but National, ACT, NZF, and UF polled a combined 45% to Labour’s 41% and the Greens’ 7%. And some of the polls had Labour down into the 30s. It looked for a while like some kind of National-led coalition could have gotten the numbers. Even as it was, Labour ruled as a minority government with UF.

From looking forward to an absolute majority to suddenly facing defeat in the space of 4 weeks. And, Labour actually had options on whose backing to secure to govern in 2002. If National drops even to 45%, it’ll need some unworkable coalition that needs both ACT and the Maori party to support everything.

Now, let me take you back to 1996.

It seems hard to believe now that Labour polled as low as 16% in the lead up to the first MMP election. Behind Alliance and NZF, which got as high as in the 30% with National in the clear around 40%. Helen Clark was a new leader and unpopular with the public. There were several coup attempts. It looked like Labour, which voters still hadn’t forgiven for the 1980s, might be consigned to minor party status.

It all turned around in the last couple of months. Support for the Alliance and NZF tumbled. National shed 7% while the newly-minted ACT came from nearly nothing to 6%. Labour surged about 10% to get 28%, still its lowest result since the before the First Labour Government, but enough to govern if Winston Peters hadn’t done the dirty.

You can even go back to 1990, when I remember National polling at 65%, which must be some kind of record, only to come in 18% lower on election night.

So yeah, a lot of the polls suck. And it’s not Labour’s policies that are the problem.

And, yeah, there’s a media narrative to contend with. A lot of jounros have been calling the result of this election result for the past three years and that inevitably shapes how they view and report events.

But these things do turn around. Sometimes very dramatically. And the journos do love a good fight and the underdog coming back.  I don’t think the Left should be disheartened.

We’ve got some serious issues to campaign for; this is our one chance to stop asset sales and get a capital gains tax. We’ve got to fight like we’re going to win, because that’s the only way we will.

30 comments on “Turnaround is fair play”

  1. lprent 1

    What is 505+ support? I presume 50%+

    But the rest of the post is a significiant reason I find polls to be pretty useless. Quite simply, everything changes in politics all of the time. I mostly ignore polls when campaigning and leave the navel gazing that they engender to the yammerheads who prefer talking to working…

    Ummm please read down for examples…. 😈

  2. Yep agreed Eddie.

    But Labour MPs and activists need to keep one word firmly in mind and walk and talk as if it is true.

    The word for the campaign is “underdog”. 

    • swordfish 2.1

      Important to emphasise, here, that The Dominion Post’s Fairfax Media-Nielsen polls have a long history of over-stating Nat support/under-stating Labour support.

      Their final 08 poll, for instance, was way off. They had the Nats a whopping 18 percentage points ahead of Labour (the Nats actually beat Labour by 11 points in the Election). The final TV3-TNS, One News-Colmar Brunton, Herald-Digi and Roy Morgan polls were all much closer.

      (Incidently, I’ve only just realised, after all this time, that ‘Colonel Viper’ is, in fact, ‘Colonial Viper’. Took all this time for the penny to finally drop).

  3. JS 3

    There is another useful comparison. In 1975 a charimatic Muldoon was the media darling against which Rowling, a leader with honesty and integrity but less charisma, could get no traction. Muldoon came in and destroyed the visionary compulsory super scheme Labour had just set up. Three decades later we are still paying for it. National’s asset sales and gutting of Kiwisaver, ACC, public broadcasting etc, risk similar outcomes.

    The latest FF poll shows those polled are wary of National’s destructive policies, including asset sales, but for some reason trust the personable Key. Under MMP Muldoon would have been out in 1978. Key will have to trip sometime, and then the support will flood back to the left, which has more responsible and socially just economic plan, more in tune with mainstream NZ values.

    • chris73 3.1

      Seriously? This is Labours plan? Wait for Key to trip sometime, what do you think he’ll do? Hold up a bag of dead puppies?

      At the moment the majority of voters don’t feel that Labour have atoned for their previous govt, the voters feel Labour haven’t learnt their lesson.

      However if after the next election Labour do what they should have done after the last election (remove the deadwood and hangers-on from the Clark regime) then the voters will feel that Labour has learnt its lessons and then will be a viable option for 2014

      Its not really that difficult is it?

      (Oh and find a leader that can connect with/explain to the public would be good as well)

      • Vicky32 3.1.1

        what do you think he’ll do? Hold up a bag of dead puppies?

        Sadly, the media would say that it was a bag of sleeping puppies that he had rescued from a crack-addicted solo mother…

  4. battleheed 4

    So Eddie and Mickey, do you think Goff is going to lead Labour to victory this year, and do you think he will be Prime Minister of a Labour led government at the end of the year?

    [lprent: Ok you have already been warned. One week ban.

    Anyone care to bet that this one will be a bit too stupid to get the hint that trolling tactics from 2008 are as unwelcome here now as they were then? He hasn’t in his previous lives. ]

    • Lanthanide 4.1

      I think he is and will.

      You’ve asked this same question before; I’m not sure what the point of it is.

    • Battle
      If Labour gets some momentum and campaigns really well then anything is possible.
      There are four things they need to do:
      1.  Regular releases of thought through coherent policy.
      2.  Enrollments and turn out the vote strategies are going to be absolutely vital.
      3.  No stuff ups.
      4.  Auckland presents their greatest chance.  Supercity has harmed the Government and if, for instance, Labour comes out and supports the inner city link then JAFA voters will have a clear choice.
      But Labour needs momentum.  And they need to remember that they are underdogs.

      • chris73 4.2.1

        Thats a big If but even more likely to scupper Labour is no. 3 No stuff ups.

        First thing I’d do is make sure that whatever comes out of Goffs mouth is checked beforehand
        Second is whatever is posted on redalert is checked (and that it won’t be embarrising)
        Third thing is that whatever is released to the public, media, by email etc is checked as well
        Fourth thing is ALL Labour MPs to be singing off the same song sheet (and no backstabbing)

        A stronger Labour means National will have to improve their game

        • Colonial Viper

          Nah. John Key already has his CV written up circulating around the world, he’s gone, National is gone.

          I also note that NAT gets to act blase with the facts, 170,000 new jobs, being forced to borrow $380M per wk etc, showing what a bunch of stinking liars and manipulators NAT are is also another useful approach. (Alternatively the NZ public don’t give a damn, but you do get the government you deserve after all)

          • chris73

            Then you won’t want to read this then:


            • freedom

              so he is happy to stay if he wins but is throwing out his toys if he loses.

              Sign of a true leader

              (that is so tough to say with a straight face)

            • Anne

              Hahaha Hohoho
              And you believe it 73? I’ll guarantee Hooton knows it’s a sham promise. Key knows no other type of promise. If something better turns up – or he sees the writing on the wall – he’ll be off before you can say Jack Robinson. The man has no scruples.

              • I can’t believe people are slagging off at Key on the suggestion that he may leave parliament if national lose later this year. I know what, why don’t we ask the last party leader to lose an NZ general election ?

                • The Voice of Reason

                  Why? There’s a difference between starting a new job after an election loss at the end of nine years in the job and announcing in advance that it’s ‘stuff you lot’ if it goes the wrong way on the big day at only the second try.

                  • 1) Apparently, Key has stated (Hooten’s column in the NBR, offline) that he will be around for the 2014 election.
                    2) Clarke ran as leader, and went ‘stuff you lot’ because it the wrong way on the big day

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Key’s gone, he’s already bored with the job, he can make more money elsewhere, and he hasn’t go the stomach for the neoliberalism his money masters would like him to exhibit in NZ.

                      2) Clarke ran as leader, and went ‘stuff you lot’ because it the wrong way on the big day

                      That’s such a dumb characterisation, it says more about you than anything else, Martin.

      • Gus 4.2.2

        And they key to a victory is to roll Goff as soon as friggen possible. Its time to face the reality, he is a dead weight and he is pulling us to the bottom very quickly.

    • mik e 4.3

      IT doesn’t matter to me if these trolls are around its good motivation for us underdogs because most of what they are saying is National propaganda which are mainly lies so its easy to take their lies apart which is a lot of fun

  5. randal 5

    The polls are not to be believed.
    National with the connivance of the press are boondoggling, hornswoggling and generally whistling on the dark to keep their spirits up and bullshit the public that they are telling the truth.
    this mornings front page of the dompost was how much Ladies like John Key. What wil they think of next. How much pussycats like john keys but they dont vote.
    its supposed to be a newspaper but it seems that being john key is news enough.
    Its almost as bad as Foxnews.

  6. TightyRighty 7

    “So yeah, a lot of the polls suck. And it’s not Labour’s policies that are the problem.

    And, yeah, there’s a media narrative to contend with. A lot of jounros have been calling the result of this election result for the past three years and that inevitably shapes how they view and report events.

    But these things do turn around. Sometimes very dramatically. And the journos do love a good fight and the underdog coming back. I don’t think the Left should be disheartened.”

    Here is the problem with the left and why no one outside of it’s core believes in it as much as the left believe they do. You acknowledge a facile (really, it is, as it can be rectified) problem – “the polls suck”, but refuse to look beyond any reason for why this might be so as you refuse to countenance the idea that the problem might be the opposite of what you prescribe it to be.

    Maybe it is labour policy that is the problem? not any one individual one, but the collection of policies that make up what the labour party supposedly stand for and therefore their election platform.

    We always hear here about how the media is to blame. This is a two fold problem, firstly you are attacking a communication channel you want on your teams side, and only attacking them for calling it as they see it. The problem isn’t a love of Team Key, no matter how much you would love to believe it. The problem is an astonishment that Team Labour (because it won’t ever be Team Goff) continue to mess everything up and attack the messengers when the public learns of it. This arrogance about how savvy the public really is in regards to what is reported by the media has been the most amazing continuous mistake by the Labour Party and it’s supporters. You don’t hear this much moaning from Green Party supporters!

    The belief that these things turn around, like magic (magnets), then shows the complete lack of this amazing plan that labour is supposed to be having for winning this election. No plan, no leader, no supporters, no chance.

    • Aero 7.1

      National vote is likely to split come election time due to the right realizing that they are carrying too many parasites and wanting a shakeout of stupid thinking on the right. Call it a once in a decade opportunity. Labour’s vote will hold up and even increase as people are in economic pain and seize on the no tax treashold. National however are split hit by a CGT, those who see the opportunity to diffientiate the economy and those locked into capital gains profits. Who says the right are a social block that looks after each other? The keen agressive right aren’t a bunch of babies who will fall for the property developers declaring they are hard up.

      • TightyRighty 7.1.1

        Where will the national vote split too?

        Please name the people on the right who the current supporters of the right might identify as parasites and wish to remove?

        The whole crybaby waah we always hear is that the right is a socially cohesive block that is working to protects it’s own mates. So, according to those on the left, which is it, the right are actually at each others throats or the right are part of vast conspiracy to oppress the poor and keep rich people rich?

        labours vote won’t hold up, as retail spending has not held up. people are paying much more attention to spending and taxing promises. A $5000 dollar threshold is only of interest to those who already vote labour, it is rather insignificant to swing voters. The CGT, while a good idea on first principles, Labour doesn’t have any principles, and thereby buggered it up with so many convolutions allowed, it’ll cost more to collect (an unknown at this stage) than it will bring it. ie a tax so we don’t have to borrow, that we’ll have to borrow to collect. noice. clever. a claytons tax we might call it.

        • Aero

          If you want to fell like a winner, better vote Labour because National have little so far to sell most people in Nz. Tax cut bribes aren’t available and most people want to save themselves first before handing over more of the economy and government benefits to the wealthiest.
          Only the heavily in debt want National solution of higher inflation to wipe out their mistaken debt addicted behaviour.

  7. ak 8

    Please name the people on the right who the current supporters of the right might identify as parasites and wish to remove?

    ACT. Funnily enough Tightarse, some of the genteel burghers of Epsom (the “salts” as some of us know them) just may not want to be ever henceforth known as fascist/racist enablers of a decrepit fascist/racist serial adulterer. Some will, of course: but like all pretentious and irrelevant vermin, they’ll not be missed.

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