Polls and election prospects

A number of recent polls have given pointers to where the parties stand with less than two months to go until the election.

National

National have been polling in the high forties through to mid fifties but are expected to drop back a few percent in the final count. They are aware of this and are trying to minimise that drop by playing as safe a game as possible.

They have had some hiccups with embarrassments through Claudia Hauiti (now withdrawn from candidacy) and Gerry Brownlee’s airport security slip-up. Hauiti was National’s lowest ranked MP so she won’t be a loss, and Brownlee has front footed the damage control with what appears to be genuine contriteness.

National have just announced their list with no real surprises. They will say this week what other parties they will be prepared to work with and give a nod to some potential support parties in electorates.

They have yet to reveal much about policies. There main plank seems to be more of the same, steady sensible management of the economy.

That will be enough to win the most seats by far but they are not expected to get enough to rule on their own so their fortunes may be dictated by small parties. They will be hoping Winston Peters isn’t the main dictator.

Likely result range 45-50%.

Labour

The polls have not been good for Labour with the last twelve results being in the twenties, as low as 23%.

David Cunliffe continues to fail to impress as leader. He says his string of apologies are behind him but he is dropping in preferred Prime Minister polls, the latest having him on 8%. Some hope he will show his mettle in leader’s debates but it’s unlikely he will do enough to shine over the seasoned Key.

Media are writing Labour off and talking more about how low they might go instead of how much they might get. There’s good reason for this, they look divided and disorganised.

Labour’s best hope seems to limit the damage and not get any lower than their record low in 2011 of 27.28%. A more common hope is probably that their vote doesn’t collapse.

Likely result range 20-29%.

Green Party

The Greens bounce around in the polls, usually in the 10-15% range.

They look to be the best organised party by a long shot, and seem determined to finally get into Government. They deserve it on their own efforts but they are relying on Labour who will be worrying and disappointing them.

Without Labour improving substantially Greens look like at best competing for attention and influence amongst a mish mash coalition but more likely being denied by Labour’s failure.

Many voters are happy to see Greens in the mix but one negative is there is a wariness (and in some cases fear) of Greens getting to much influence, especially on economic matters. Some Green good, too much Green scary is a common sentiment.

Likely result range 10-15%.

NZ First

NZ First have been polling from a bit under to a bit over the magic 5%.

Most expect them to lift a bit in the run up to voting as happened last year but National will be taking as much care as possible not to hand Winston Peters another opportunity like the cup of tea debacle.

Peters is a seasoned campaigner and the media help his cause because he is good for stories, but time will tell whether there is too much seasoning in the old warrior and too little substance in the rest of the party as the other MPs have failed to impress.

One thing that may make it harder is direct competition for attention  and votes with the Conservative Party.

Likely result range 4-6%.

Maori Party

Poll results have been low for the Maori Party. That doesn’t usually matter because in all elections they have contested so far they have got more electorate seats than their party vote would give them so it has been unnecessary. Last election they got 1.43%.

It’s tougher for them in electorates this time with Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia retiring. It will be challenging for them to retain their current three seats, with some suggesting they might lose most or all of them.

There will be strong competition from the Dotcom financed MANA Party, but they may be helped by Labour’s woes.

For the first time the party vote may matter to the Maori Party, especially if they only hold one electorate seat.

Likely result range 1-2%.

Conservative Party

Polls have been in the 1-3% range. It’s now looking unlikely National will help Colin Craig in an electorate so they may have to get 5% to make it. That will be difficult, especially if Winston Peters competes openly with them.

Formed just before the last election the Conservatives got 2.65% and hope to improve on that. They have had much more exposure but that may have lost as much support as it has gained. Craig still seems politically naive. He has tried to turn the ‘Crazy Colin’ meme to his advantage but that’s a risky strategy.

Conservative fortunes are relying on National’s decision this week but it’s not looking positive for them.

UPDATE: John Key has just stated that National won’t help Craig in East Coast Bays so Conservatives only hope is getting 5%, which looks a big hurdle.

Likely result range 2-3%.

ACT Party

Act has been polling poorly, often under 1%.

Act were in turmoil last election with a very Brash takeover and installing John Banks as Epsom candidate. Banks won to save Act but has had a troubled term.

Act have made a concerted effort to rebuild over two elections. They have split responsibilities between Jamie Whyte as party leader and David Seymour in Epsom. Seymour looks a good bet in Epsom but the political jury is still out on Whyte and Act.

Much could come down to how Whyte looks in the minor party debates. He is intelligent and has good political knowledge but can look to serious and too polite – he hasn’t been forceful enough in interviews.

Act may benefit from being an alternative to giving National sole charge.

Likely result range 1-3%.

United Future

UnitedFuture has been languishing in polls, as often on 0% as slightly above.

More than ever UF hopes seem to rest solely on Peter Dunne in Ohariu. His chances are reasonable there. He has held the seat for thirty years so is very well known. He hasn’t had the best of terms but seems determined to rebuild his credibility.

Dunne looks to have been helped by all the major parties:

  • National have a new candidate who looks likely to campaign for the aprty vote only and has been given an almost certain list position.
  • Labour’s Charles Chauvel resigned mid term and has been replaced by a relative unknown.
  • Green’s Gareth Hughes has withdrawn from the electorate to promote youth and party vote and has been replaced by someone.

Like last election voters are likely to return Dunne and ignore the party. The party seems to be virtually ignoring the party.

Likely result range 0.3-0.7%.

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party

ALCP rarely feature in opinion polls, but they manage to get votes in elections. In 2011 they got 0.52%.

They are under new management this time and are likely to get some stoner and protest votes but 5% is just too high a hurdle for the influential media to pay them any attention.

Likely result range 0.4-0.8%.

Internet Mana Party

As a newly formed combo IMP have been polling 1-2%. They have a huge budget so will feature in the attention seeking stakes.

And while Kim Dotcom can’t stand as a candidate his attention seeking will keep him to the forefront of party success or failure.

Dotcom is promising a town hall circus five days before election day – he thinks this will destroy John Key and National but it could just as easily backfire.

His personal crusade is to oust the National Government. He is more likley to fracture the left wing vote and scare people off a Labour let government.

IMP’s monetary might will gain them some party votes but may fail in the ultimate aim.

Likely result range 2-4%.

Summary

IMP could be pivotal in the final result but it looks most likely to be a failure for them and a win for National with a few small allies.

Greens talk poverty but target middle NZ vote

The Green Party talk a lot about addressing children in poverty. In a policy announcement today they emphasise this:

The Green Party today announced that its key social platform for this election will be to tackle child poverty and inequality by ensuring every child in New Zealand has enough to thrive.

But the policy they announced today seems to be clearly targeting the middle New Zealand vote in Greens announce 20 hours free ECE for two year olds:

In the first of these announcements, made today, the party has announced a package to support families by extending access to free early childhood education and improve the quality of all ECE.

The key policy points in the Green Party’s plan for supporting families’ access to ECE are:

  1. Extend the 20 Hours free early childhood education subsidy to cover two-year-olds, at an initial cost of $255 million. As the benefits of this successful scheme are opened up to at least another 40,000 children, more kids will get a good start in life and the burdens on their families will be eased.
  2. Provide $32 million a year to restore funding for 100 percent qualified teachers, as part of an ambitious plan to boost the quality of early childhood education and make sure every child gets the right care and support.

The total package will cost $297 million a year immediately rising to $367 million in four years.

“Every child should have enough to thrive. Any less is a failure of our society,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.

“One in four children lives in poverty, and 205,000 Kiwi kids are now living in severe poverty, and going without the basics.

But this doesn’t seem to be directly targeting poverty. Some poor families may benefit, but middle and upper income families will also benefit. Not extending EXCE down a year is hardly a “failure of our society”.

“Extending 20 hours free ECE to two-year-olds will make a real financial difference to thousands of families. We estimate that families with two-year-olds in ECE could be up to $95 a week better off under our policy.

“About two thirds of all two-year-olds are currently enrolled in ECE, but their parents miss out on the ’20 Hours’ subsidy given to three and four year olds. We will make the system fair by extending the same subsidy to the large number of two-year-olds in ECE.

“Despite the relatively low level of current subsidy, around 40,000 two-year-olds are still enrolled in ECE, significantly more than a decade ago. Our policy helps will make a big difference to those families straight away.

It will be popular to some, but a one year of childhood is very narrow.

“This is an investment in families and our kids’ education and in reducing poverty.”

“Good-quality ECE helps children reach their full potential, both in education and in leading healthy and productive lives. It can even make the difference, according to recent research, between being in or out of poverty in later life.

“Investment in ECE is a great education spend today, but it can also reduce poverty and inequality overtime.

They have pushed the poverty line eight times in this media release. Perhaps they have more policies to come that will specifically target more pressing poverty needs, but despite their insistence this one seems to miss the mark.

It’s a good enough policy, if the cost can be justified in an overall budget, but they are trying to oversell the poverty pandering.

$300-400 million a year is a lot to allocate to all two year olds, not just those who are really deprived.

This looks a bit like a vote buying exercise dressed as a pauper.

RockEnrol and Action Station

On a post on Kiwiblog Rock Enrol and the unions a commenter AG asks for a source for Generation Zero being a left wing group. Looking into this brought up some interesting names and causes in common.

Generation Zero is also a left-wing group.

Source?

If the folks running Generation Zero consist of three Green Party/Labour Party activist members under the figurehead of some ex-journo, then yes, there is a direct comparison to be drawn. I accept that.

Why three? Interesting that AG chose Generation Zero. Why not Action Station?

What is ActionStation?

ActionStation is here to enable the large community of Kiwis with shared progressive values to take powerful, coordinated action on urgent issues we care about.

“Progressive” is usually associated with the left wing. They say:

Who’s behind ActionStation?

Independent and member-led, we are affiliated with no political party, and answer only to our members.

The website is ” Authorised by Megan Salole” – she has been involved in setting up Action Station.

Megan Salole is a social innovator and agitator who is actively championing green issues, social justice and democratic voice.

http://www.philanthropy.org.nz/node/8563

And Megan has more then an interest in green issues, she was Green campaign director last election.

Campaign Kickoff! with Megan Salole

Megan Salole, National Campaign Manager, introduces hersef and kicks off the campaign!

https://my.greens.org.nz/campaign-resources/campaign-kickoff-with-megan-salole

See also her LinkedIn Overview, Past:

National Campaign Manager at Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

National Campaign Manager at Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

http://nz.linkedin.com/in/megansalole

Her web page About Me:

I ran the 2011 Green Party National Campaign.

I am in the process of establishing ActionStation – New Zealand’s own progressive community here to active call power to account.

And Metiria Turei commented on an Action Station job advertisement on her Facebook page: “Jobs like this are rare, closes Friday”.

Talking of Facebook, earlier this year Megan had a Generation Zero graphic on her cover page. Details of all of this: How Green is ActionStation?

There’s more at Happyzine, including:

8. Who should be NZ’s Prime Minister and why?
I am interested in a Co-Prime Ministership, and look forward to a time when extraordinary politicians like Metiria Turei and Russel Norman are at the helm.

http://happyzine.co.nz/2012/06/13/world-changer-megan-salole-actionstation-intersect-and-more/

The Action Station web address is registered under this name:

registrant_contact_name: Joseph Cederwall

http://www.whois.com/whois/actionstation.org.nz

Joe was involved in ‘Stand Up’, along with Megan, from which Action Station has evolved.

StandUp, an independent, citizen-led platform for online activism, will begin campaigning in New Zealand next month.

The first campaigns will potentially target asset sales, paid parental leave, coal mining in conservation areas and a sustainable rebuild in Christchurch.

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1204/S00256/online-campaign-group-launched.htm

There’s more than a little hint of left wing there.

‘We will enable tens of thousands of Kiwis to have their say,’ said acting director Joe Cederwall, a Wellington barrister. ‘New Zealanders believe in a fair go, yet there’s a glaring disconnect between the values of the majority and the actions of government and business. StandUp will collaborate with the growing progressive movement, to bring participation back into politics.’

There’s that word “progressive” again.

Joe’s profile on Loomio:

Oh – I’m Joseph Cederwall. I am a Lawyer, social entrepeneur and currently co-editing a journal on ‘the commons’ as well as working on a crowd investment platform. I was part of the team that founded ActionStation with the goal of seeing it create a citizen led campaigning tool and currently act as secretary of the society. I am currently very interested in exploring the potential of a ‘commons’ approach to resource ownership in New Zealand and how this could radically change the way we deal with issues such as indigenous sovereignty and environmental stewardship in the future.

https://www.loomio.org/d/4TqCUjIo/welcome-introduce-yourself-here

Joe is keen on the Commons approach, see http://www.projectfreerange.com/author/joe-cederwall/ – this seems to be an alternative to property ownership and people holding wealth.

As AG likes to see three connections here’s another:

Laura O’Connell-Rapira is our Campaigns Director focusing on membership engagement. She’s been doing amazing things with RockEnrol and Oxfam, and we are thrilled to have her.

There’s those RockEnrol and Oxfam names again. And this from Volunteering New Zealand:

Campaign Director, Laura O’Connell-Rapira has joined forces with youth-led groups Generation Zero, AskAway and The Wireless, as well as various promoters, venue owners, and event organisers to build and activate political power for young people in Aotearoa.

And there’s that Generation Zero name again. And again here:

Who wants to be a Climate Voter?

Game shows don’t come with a bigger jackpot than a safe climate future.
Brought to you by Generation Zero.

Panel discussion – Laura O’Connell-Rapira.

On Laura’s Facebook page:

Organising a RockEnrol + AUSA – Auckland University Students’ Association + Generation Zero bass + beats + hip hop night on Thursday 24th July at SHADOWS TAVERN – your student bar. We have booked Third3ye + Tali.

Her take on Action Station:

ActionStation is getting ready to launch. Led by you, we are committed to making New Zealand a more fair and equitable country with thriving environments and an accountable government.

And up to July 2 2014 she worked at another name in common, Oxfam:

My last day at Oxfam NZ today. Thanks for the good times team. I love the wonderful work you do to bring about a fairer, safer, more sustainable & equitable world.

Laura organised a picnic and concert in March:

Another young organiser is Laura O’Connell-Rapira from Laingholm who is running New Zealand’s first post-carbon picnic and holding a concert with a one-of-a-kind soundsystem.

She specialises in creating “people powered parties with purpose” such as the post-carbon picnic which will encourage people to “share more and waste less” she says.

“It’s a celebration of what our lives will look like without being so dependent on fossil fuels, while also getting to experience the amenities New Lynn has to offer,” Ms O’Connell-Rapira says.

“The whole idea is to get a conversation going around how we use transport, food and how we consume material possessions and energy.”

Teachings in Dub with Lion Rockers HiFi will raise money for Generation Zero with reggae music blasting from the home-built, giant Lion Rock soundsystem.

http://i.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/western-leader/9849075/Try-out-weed-dating

A fundaiser for Generation Zero.

Matthew Beveridge also addressed the leftishness of Rock Enrol and it’s connections with other organisations in ROCK ENROL: NON PARTISAN OR NOT?

A group of young voters have started an organisation called Rock Enrol. It is based on the Rock the Vote campaign in the US.

On this page they make the following claim “Rock Enrol is a non-partisan campaign”. But there are some things that indicate this may not be the case.

The three people behind Rock Enrol are Laura O’Connell-Rapira, Sam Dyson and Lizzie Sullivan.

Laura O’Connell-Rapira has been in the media before, ‘Business hippie’ plans $1m eco retreat, she also runs Our Place Events, who claim to be “tree huggers”.

Sam Dyson is a key person in the Generation Zero campaign.

Lizzie Sullivan has been a little harder to track down, however a Elizabeth Sullivan made a submission against the VSM bill on behalf of The Victoria University Young Greens.

I also found a linkedin profile in the same name that has a number of details that indicate it is the same person. Who has worked for Caritas.

http://www.matthewbeveridge.co.nz/politics/rock-enrol-non-partisan-or-not/

There seem to be quite a few people and organisations in common here. And a number of issues in common with the Greens and Generation Zero.

Thinking outside the Green square

The Green Party has virtually led the opposition this term. It looks the best organised party apart from National, and it appears to be well funded. Green leadership looks secure and sound.

Greens are overdue for being in government and are ambitious to finally get a share of real power.

But they have a major problem, not of their own doing but a serious impediment to Greens achieving what they want. Labour have seemed an essential part of Green plans but David Cunliffe look like a dead leader walking.

Apart from a weak Labour making a left wing Government look increasingly unlikely the Greens are also hurt by Labour being weak – many voters are sympathetic to some Green input but are wary of too much Green say and too may Green policy. People are uncertain about what a Green dominated coalition might do.

Greens could just resign themselves to being reliant on a Labour recovery and wait. And possibly wait and wait.

But Greens have proven to be smart and also willing to read the political wind and adapt. Green leadership seems well aware of the political need for pragmatism and compromise if a party is to make progress.

They attempted to initiated a campaign partnership with Labour but were rejected.

Will they consider the ultimate in political pragmatism – a coalition with National?

Currently the Green position on working with National is something like “very very unlikely”. But that was determined when Labour+Green looked an electoral possibility. Labour have moved this towards “very very unlikely” and don’t look like changing direction.

They will surely be reassessing this. It’s known that Green activists are not keen on working with National but political pragmatism – and the fear if another three years in the opposition wilderness not knowing if even then Labour will get their act together – must be tempting some in the Green Party to go for a bit of something rather than a lot of nothing.

There would be a number of benefits for Greens going into coalition with National. They would be in a better position to promote some of their policies. They would get some experience at operating in Government and some of their MPs would get experience in ministerial positions.

Their lack of Government experience and their numbers relative to National – something like 55-15 – would mean they wouldn’t be able to claim major roles but they would gain valuable experience and would achieve far more than they could alongside Labour in opposition.

They could prove they can be responsible on Government. This would enhance their chances in 2017.

What about Greens as ministers? Alongside National they would have to accept minor rolls, but this would help easy then into the next level.

Russel Norman with an associate finance role and Metiria Turei in an associate social role – or even Minister of the Environment – would look fine. And Kevin Hague would slot easily into an associate health role.

National would gain from this arrangement as well. They’ve worked successfully on policy with Greens before with insulation schemes, and some more environmental and sustainable influence would be positive.

And it could be easier and safer to work with the principled Greens than Winston Peters or the unknown quantity of Colin Craig.

The country would benefit too from a stable governing arrangement, more social and environmental influence. And once Greens eventually get to be a part of a left leaning government they will be far better experienced.

How would voters see this? I think in the main they would see it as a positive. Swing voters may be far for willing to support Greens if they saw they would be moderated by senior National influence compared to Greens alongside a weak Labour, where voters have some worries about how Green it would be.

Prior to the last election 3 News Reid research polled on a National-Green mix.

We asked voters that if John Key opened the door to a formal coalition deal with the Greens – should the Greens say yes.

  • 55 percent said yes
  • 30 percent said no

Many of those saying no are likely to be Labour supporters who wouldn’t like to be cut out of any deal.

Amongst Green voters:

  • 60 percent said yes
  • 27 percent no

Amongst National voters:

  • 63 percent said yes
  • 25 percent said no

With the current state of the parties, especially Labour’s weakness and fears of the possibility of Labour+Green+NZ First+Internet+MANA or even of National+NZ First then a National-Green alliance may seem even more attractive and less scary to voters.

If John Key saw benefits for National and for the country he should support working with Greens.

Some of the more idealistic in Greens may take more convincing, but the key to successful politics is finding ways of achieving something. Intransigent idealists tend to be impotent. There is far more power in pragmatism.

One of the biggest limiters on Greens increasing their vote is a fear of them having too much influence with their more extreme policies.

National is well supported in the polls but voters are very unlikely to want them to rule with a majority on their own.

Voters may see Greens alongside a much larger National as a much safer bet than most of the current alternatives and they would probably pick up votes that are disillusioned with Labour.

To me National+Green seems to be by far the safest and most sensible choice for the country this year.

Both parties would need to signal there willingness to work together clearly prior to the election. It would likely help both their chances.

Faint hopes of addressing cannabis and abortion

Martyn Bradbury has written an uncharacteristically reasoned column at the Herald – Unmentionable issues need champion.

On cannabis:

At last year’s International Cannabis Policy Symposium in Auckland, Professor Richie Poulton pointed out that 10.3 per cent of users who smoke cannabis by age 15 go on to have psychotic disorders, whereas only 4.7 per cent of those who used cannabis by aged 18 went on to have psychotic disorders. The conclusion from the symposium was that cannabis isn’t the major health risk it’s been built up to be. If protecting adolescents from early cannabis use is the solution, prohibition is the problem.

Regulation removes tinny houses near schools, prohibition builds them. Between 2007 and last year, 890 New Zealanders were jailed for possession of cannabis and 737 more have been imprisoned for possession of a bong.

Our war on drugs has led us to the awkward position where the US is becoming more progressive on cannabis than we are.

I agree with this, I’ve been promoting the addressing on addressing cannabis law for several years, the current laws and application of them are not working.

On abortion:

Decriminalisation of abortion is needed now. It’s not just the nonsense of Section 187A of the Crimes Act, whereby women must feign mental distress to get a basic medical service, it’s the manner in which pro-life fanatics have managed to isolate and constrict access to abortions that desperately needs challenging by decriminalising it.

I’m 100 per cent pro-choice. Those attempting to tell a woman what to do with her body in the 21st century should be outed for the misogynistic medieval glee club that they are. Women have every right to safe, legal access to any medical procedure they require.

I agree with Green Party policy on abortion.They clearly differentiated themselves from other parties by promoting this policy recently.

But Bradbury then moves to wishful thinking.

The Green and Internet parties have shown vast courage to bring these issues into the open. Progressive voters should consider rewarding that bravery this election.

While it may be ‘brave’ introducing these contentious issues into the election debate it looks to be futile and therefore unlikely to decide many votes. Bradbury explains a major reason why:

Ever since the “anti-smacking law” fiasco, Labour has been terrified to promote any social policy that can be warped into politically correct social engineering gone mad. Amending Section 59 of the Crimes Act closed a legal loophole abusive parents exploited to escape assault charges by claiming discipline as a defence.

Watching such a noble gesture get twisted into a narrative of the PC stormtroopers of Helengrad, kicking down the front doors of honest Kiwi mums and dads to arrest them for lightly tapping little Johnny on the bottom, shellshocked Labour into never mentioning social policy again.

This has depressed the quality of political vision for the left, which is why the Greens and Internet parties’ policies on decriminalising cannabis and abortion are so welcome.

Regardless of whether that is an accurate portrayal of Labour’s position indications are that Labour don’t want to campaign on these issues. During the Labour leadership contest David Cunliffe supported reviewing abortion law:

I want to see a woman’s right to choose protected. The current law hasn’t been reviewed for many years and I think that is now urgent. The Law Commission would be best placed to undertake this review as it is a conscience issue which splits across parties.

But when Greens announced their policy he wouldn’t back it. And there seems to be no enthusiasm for addressing cannabis either.

Unless Greens or the Internet Party make these policies bottom lines in any coalition or support agreements with Labour they are not likely to get anywhere.

And that is if the left get to form the next government.

If National get back in there’s virtually no chance either cannabis or abortion reform will get anywhere in any Government programme. They would have to take their chances in the member’s ballots.

There seems to be faint hopes of these issues being prominent in election campaigning or post election negotiations.

Green election prospects

In a Public Address discussion on polls and party positions – Hard News: Meanwhile back at the polls – the election chances of the Greens came up.

(Roy) Morgan has National up seven points to 52.5% support, and Labour and the Greens both down to a combined 38%. The Greens shed 4.5 points to slump to 9% support, their lowest level since 2011.

That’s a significant slip for the Greens at a time when they haven’t seemed to have done anything controversial.

But a friend put another interpretation to me on Friday: that the public has had a look at Internet-Mana and decided a potential centre-left coalition is really not to its taste.

That’s quite likely although the appointment of Laila Harre as Internet Party leader and the arrangement with MANA happened more than half way through the polling period.

It could also be accumulated wariness of the chances of too much Green influence in the next Government.

Bart Jansen commented:

As a point of anecdata, I had a conversation with an in-law who used to vote Labour but wouldn’t this time because he thought The Greens would then get to control the country.

That could be quite common, I’ve heard similar sentiments expressed.

It isn’t the first time I have heard that. It’s an interesting and frustrating situation for both The Greens and Labour. What’s weird is people don’t seem to apply the same fear and distrust to the influence of The Maori Party and ACT over National.

Greens have fourteen MPs and are pushing for more. That would be a significantly more influential number in a coalition than ACT’s current one/zero and the Maori Party’s three.

I think there is something strange going on out there particularly in the older (voting) public. It seems that there is very little acceptance that The Greens have shed their more extreme views and are now a much more serious party and hence more reasonable.

They are promoting themselves as more serious and more reasonable, but they are still widely seen as much bigger spenders if they get into Government, and there is a sizeable resistance to moving more towards a handout mentality that the Greens are linked to.

I don’t think Labour distancing themselves from The Greens will solve the problem, I suspect that what needs to happen is for both the parties to establish what the coalition will look like and just how much influence each party will have on overall policy. But I doubt anyone is keen to do that.

Greens seem to have been keen on doing that but Labour opted out.

Greens have fluctuated between 9% and 15% in polls, often through give and take with Labour’s results. Greens have benefited from Labour’s weaknesses and look a good bet to at least maintain last election’s improved result (but they have tended to poll better than they achieve in elections).

The next few polls should give us an idea of the impact of Internet-MANA who could take some Green support, but they also make the Greens look comparatively less scary – to many floating voters Labour+Greens doesn’t look as risky as Labour+Greens+MANA+Internet.

I think Greens have always had fairly widespread partial support, with many people being happy with a healthy Green voice in Parliament – but those some partial supporters are wary of too much Green say, especially on economic matters. As far as Greens are seen, environmentalist good, economist bad. So Greens through Norman pushing for wider credentials and especially promoting financial ambitions may attract some but it scares a lot more.

What Greens might benefit most from is if the Labour vote collapses as it did for National in 2002. But that won’t help the chances of a left leaning coalition.

Budget winners and whiners

There’s no way of knowing if the budget is an election winner for National (it won’t harm their chances and will probably enhance them) but as a smart, sensible, pragmatic budget that appears to care for families it has to be a winner for National for the moment.

Peter Dunne is claiming it’s a good budget for UnitedFuture with some justification. It nudges Paid Parental Leave in their policy direction and with Dunne having an involvement in health and families the extension of free doctors visits and prescriptions for children have to be a personal win.

There is little specifically for the Maori Party but it won’t do them any harm.

The budget was never going to slash public spending so ACT don’t win anything from it.

The opposition parties made it look like they were losers with very negative attacks, but this may clash with general public perceptions.

In reality Labour mustn’t be disappointed with aspects of this budget at least. David Parker has acknowledged this. If this was a Labour budget they would be applauded, and it won’t cause them any difficulties if they take over Government and economic management later this year.

But David Cunliffe has chosen a very negative reaction, which portrays it as a loss despite claiming National have stolen some of their policies. And National have cunningly sold it as both prudent and caring, and Labour are left claiming they would do more – which means spend more, so their claims that the surplus is fudged looks sticky.

Russel Norman tried to portray it as a ‘cabinet club’ budget, benefiting a select few rich people at the expense of the poor. It don’t think he’ll get much credit for this approach, it’s hardly a way to build support.

Winston Peters grumped about it as if the country has lost something but it’s his mojo that’s hard to find.

Hone Harawira complained there was nothing in it for Maori and “we didn’t even get crumbs for kids” but both those groups will benefit from more free health care and an improving financial position for the country. What Harawira means is he didn’t win handouts for his constituency.

The handout mentality didn’t win anything from the election. Many will applaud that.

National have crafted a crafty budget and are the big winners, with Dunne picking up some of the glory.

It won’t win the election but it will make it harder for Labour and Greens to win. They were practising losing speeches yesterday.

They can still win the election, but they have to start looking like potential winners.

Yesterday John Key and Bill English looked like they were on the podium already. People like voting for winners, not whiners.

Greens and deputy Prime Minister

Green co-leader Metiria Turei talked about the possibility of having Green co-deputy Prime Ministers in a Labour-Green coalition on The Nation. It won’t be easy to negotiate two top ranks in a coalition cabinet. Much will depend on the parties relative numbers – and Winston Peters.

The Nation – Greens aim for co-deputy PM role.

The Greens could share the deputy Prime Minster role in a coalition with Labour, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says.

Greens co-leader Russel Norman last month said he was keen on the role.

Ms Turei said she would like to be deputy Prime Minister along with Dr Norman.

“There’s no rules that stop there from being more than one deputy Prime Minister,” she told The Nation.

“Russel and I have had a co-leadership role in the Greens that’s worked very well for the Green Party. I think something similar would work very well for the country as well.”

They would divide the position the same way they do as co-leaders, she said.

“We each have our own expertise. We have our own roles that we play and we do that work.”

How much negotiating sway they had would depend on the size of their vote, Ms Turei said.

I don’t see a problem in general with having two deputy Prime Ministers. And having someone like Turei to stand up to some of the Labour cabinet might do them some good.

The biggest problem with the idea is balance of power. Greens having positions 2= and 2= in cabinet would be a very hard sell, especially if Winston Petersis in the mix, but even if it’s just Labour and Greens.

They might be able to get around this by the Greens being allocated two positions in Cabinet’s ranking, say 2 and 6, with Norman and Turei alternating eighteen months in each position.

Turei is right, it will depend a lot on the size of each party’s vote and their number of MPs in coalition.

If Greens and NZ First get a similar number of MPs it will be difficult for Greens to negotiate two near top ranks. If Labour continue to struggle and dropped their current proportion (27% at the last election) – and on current performance this is not out of the question – and Greens grow their vote then their negotiating strength will be greater.

State of the parties

The election campaign has effectively kicked off in earnest. The next six months will be a long time in politics. It’s difficult to predict many things. Everything remains up for grabs.

Two polls yesterday had similar results for the three main parties, and the recent Roy Morgan is also included.
RM=Roy Morgan, CB=One News/Colmar, RR=3 News/Reid Research

National
RM 45.5, CB 47, RR 45.9

Polls have ranged in the low forties to low fifties, averaging around the current levels which are similar to National’s last election 47%. They seem to have survived recent Labour attacks on Judith Collins and Hekia Parata reasonably unscathed.

It’s very unlikely National will get a majority of seats alone so is as much reliant on small party results as it is on keeping it’s own support up in the high forties. The Maori Party, ACT and UnitedFuture are all in doubt but stand a reasonable chance of getting several seats between them. It’s doubtful if the Conservatives will get into the mix.

An improving economy is in National’s favour which will be balanced against second term attrition.

John Key remains reasonably popular although down from the last term. He usually does well in one on one debates but has to be careful to not appear arrogant or dismissive.

If they avoid major scandals (especially involving Key) National should hold up but will be hoping for weak partners to step up.

Labour
RM 31.5, CB 31, RR 31.2

Polls have settled down in the low thirties after a brief surge after David Cunliffe took over the leadership. Recent attacks on National have failed to lift Labour, negative politics may knock the opposing party a little but it’s usually not good for gaining support, which Labour desperately needs to do.

Labour are totally reliant on a partnership with the Greens. A plus is that Greens look solid. A minus is that Labour remains unconvincing. Labour may also need NZ First and possible Mana and/or the Internet Party. A party that still looks in disarray with a difficult to manage combination of parties makes Labour’s job of convincing voters they are ready to govern again challenging.

After an initial surge of support Cunliffe keeps slipping, getting 8-9% in the latest Preferred Prime Minister polls. He struggles to look authentic and is often missing in action. Labour have not yet succeeding in recovering from the departure of the Helen Clark and Michael Cullen partnership  both a party and with leadership.

It’s possible Labour could end up cobbling together a coalition but the election and the post election negotiations will both be difficult for them. A chance of a collapse in support hovers should the voters give up on Labour’s various vulnerabilities.

Green Party
RM 14, CB 11, RR 11.3

Greens had a recent poll of 8% but that looks to be an outlier, they have otherwise ranged between 10 and 14 averaging 11-12 which means they are holding their last election support (but they often poll higher than they get in elections).

The Greens are looking very well organised and are into campaign mode. They are the one solid party of this term and if they avoid campaign disasters should come to close to maintaining their current MP numbers, and could increase them.

Their main problem is not their own, it’s their essential coalition partner, Labour. If Labour fail then so do the Greens no matter what they achieve.  NZ First are also a threat because if Winston Peters returns he will hold stronger cards then the Greens, being able to play off National against Labour. The Internet Party may take some Green vote.

Russel Norman has often looked like the Leader of the Opposition this term. He is experienced, focussed and ambitious. He is a consistent strength for Greens but his ambitions on economic matters worry some and may end up playing against him. He is being promoted as possible Deputy Prime Minister.

Metiria Turei is co-leader and is currently ranked number one in Green ranking. She tends to work with the Green base more than the wider public. The traditional media seem to dismiss her chances as Deputy Prime Minister but the Greens will decide who they want to put forward. Their official stance is co-leadership but two deputies will be out of balance in a coalition. Turei would provide an interesting dynamic in an old school Labour dominated cabinet.

Greens should do well but their fate is out of their hands, they are reliant on Labour looking like a credible Government and they would prefer NZ First and the Internet Party drop out of the picture.

NZ First
RM 3.5, CB 7, RR 4.9

NZ First is fluctuating in the polls but maintains a healthy average and looks a reasonable chance of beating the 5% threshold again. They are benefiting from National slips and Labour’s lack of traction.

The NZ First MPs are very low profile and as usual look like relying on Winston Peters. The old campaigner pops up occasionally but is mostly out of the news – but he knows how to campaign and will time his run.

Peters is a master of manipulating media and will be looking for any opportunity to jump on a defining issue in the last few weeks of the campaign. National will be doing their best to avoid another cup of tea disaster but the media seem addicted to boosting their ratings with Peters and therefore boosting his chances.

At this stage NZ First looks a good bet to succeed this election. The big question mark is what that means for any coalition possibilities and there will be fears of Winston induced instabilities. This is more likely to limit their numbers rather than drop them below 5%.

Maori Party
RM 2.0, CB 0.9, RR 1,5

Party support in polls and elections hasn’t been a significant factor for the Maori Party in the past because their strength has been in electorate seats, but this may change this year.

The Maori Party has a battle on it’s hands to retain any of it’s three electorate seats this time but the odds are good to keep at least one of it’s current three. If it only keeps one or two then their party vote may become a factor in their final count.

New leader Te Ururoa Flavell is out there trying to build a profile but is an unknown at this level. He needs to step up and find a way of getting some media attention, which could be difficult because he is (so far) uncontroversial.

The Maori Party should return but will have to battle hard to keep their numbers up. Labour’s struggles may help them

ACT Party
RM 0,5, CB 0.3, RR 1.1

ACT have recovered from poll zeroes but it’s early in their attempted recovery. All will depend on Epsom. If they succeed there they could help National retain power.

The ACT party vote could lift from their 2011 debacle when Don Brash ousted Rodney Hide and took over, and installed an unlikely John Banks in Epsom.

New leader Jamie Whyte is intelligent but intellectual. He will struggle to interest the media unless he stuffs up. He will also struggle to appeal to voters. As he builds experience and if he can appear confident he may lift things a bit.

ACT’s best chances may come from National spin-off. If enough voters want National returned but don’t want to reward National too much or don’t want a single party majority  then ACT may benefit.

Mana Party
RM 0, CB 0, RR 1.1

You can’t take much from the polls for Mana, their supporters may be the hardest to find for pollsters.

On their own Mana are unlikely to lift much in party support. This is probably why they are considering a deal with Kim Dotcom, realising lifting their own party vote will be difficult. This may help them, but it could just as easily damage their brand.

Hone Harawira is the obvious essential for Mana and should retain his Te Tai Tokerau electorate – unless there’s a backlash against the Dotcom dalliance. This is a real risk for Mana. Labour have got the respected Kelvin Davis as candidate again, he has been closing the gap on Harawira in previous elections.

Mana are a good bet to retain an electorate but the Internet Party is a risky punt.

UnitedFuture
RM 0.5, CB 0.1, RR 0.1

United Future have really struggled to impress in polls for two terms. To the voting public the party is non existent, although a surge of membership last year when UnitedFuture was de-registered shows there is still some interest out there.

Peter Dunne’s chances in Ohariu look reasonable. Labour and Greens no longer have candidates with public profiles. National are likely to assist with a low profile candidate. Dunne knows how to work his electorate.

Otherwise the prospects for UnitedFuture simply aren’t there. They don’t have a very active party and they have no people other than Dunne with any profile.

Dunne is a good bet to retain Ohariu and may help National stay in power but that is the best that can be expected.

Conservative Party
RM 1.5, CB 2.3, RR 1,9

The Conservative Party has maintained an average of around 2% with a range of 1-3. They should be able to maintain this – but doubling support to make the 5% threshold will be very difficult, despite being one of the best financed parties.

Colin Craig is determined and rich, and he has some appeal but he is also seen as wacky and is sometimes unfairly called Crazy Colin.

An easy electorate ride has been talked about but it remains elusive for Craig. National would be taking a big risk gifting him a seat and look lukewarm on it at the moment.

The jury is out on Craig’s chances. The Conservatives may pick up some ‘alternative to National’ votes but 5% looks a high hurdle. The media probably won’t do them any favours like the do for Peters.

Internet Party
RM 0, CB 0, RR 0.4

The polls were too soon for the Internet Party launch this week so don’t mean much. Roy Morgan had them on 0.5% for two polls when the first launch attempt was aborted but they got publicity. They are likely to feature in polls from now because the media will give them coverage.

It’s far too soon to tell how the Internet Party will go. Kim Dotcom will attract some support from his substantial existing following but he will put others off – and he can’t stand so either has to fade into the background or he will be seen to be interfering.

The Internet Party needs some credible candidates. They’ve said they won’t be announcing them until June but have claimed to have an existing electorate MP ready to join. There’s a lot of doubt about this, and even if they did it would be extremely difficult for such a candidate to hold their seat, they would be competing with their ex party and risk splitting the vote.

If they secure a high profile candidate I would expect the Internet party to announce it as soon as possible. Otherwise a leaderless candidate-less party will struggle to impress.

The Dotcom financed party could play a significant part in the election. It’s possible (but unlikely) they boost Mana’s seats to two or three. They may take some National vote and are likely to pick up some protest vote.

But as Russel Norman openly fears they could take votes from the left and waste them by failing to reach 5%. The Internet Party make their primary goal of defeating John Key harder for the left.

Other Parties

There are no other parties with profiles.

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party keeps getting some support but is generally looked on as a protest or wacky baccy party. They have competed with Greens on cannabis law reform and could get some traction on this – Russel Norman said on The Nation in the weekend that cannabis law remained a Green policy but it would not be one they would be promoting.

The Alliance and Democrats for Social Credit keep chugging away but will continue to be ignored by the media so have no show. Losers are already picked regardless of their merit.

Focus New Zealand registered in January and are targeting the rural vote but will struggle with that.

Brendan Horan has been trying to get an Independent Candidates party off the ground but his own chances of retaining a seat and any party chances have been written off already. The media doesn’t do different approaches to democracy. And Horan doesn’t seem to have a significant following.

This simple fact is that it’s a near impossible for new parties without rich founders able to buy attention.

After the MMP review the threshold has stayed at an insurmountable 5%. The review recommend a drop to 4% which would have made no difference for small parties wanting to add themselves to the mix.

The large parties seem to actively avoid allowing nuisance parties to interfere with their ambitions and shut down their chances. Ironically more small parties would give the large parties more options and more bargaining power.

Summary

National may slip in support a bit but are still looking reasonably in charge. Greens are looking strong. But the rest is up for grabs, which means this year’s election is still very open – with more complicating factors than usual.

The Colmar Brunton poll showed a large wild card (or cards): Don’t know 13%, Refused 5%

The media play a major role and can make major stories out of the trivial. It’s a major concern that the balance of our democracy could swing on the whim of journalists. They have become very powerful, and they know it. And they are accountable to no one but their ratings and egos.

Our elections risk being more superficial lottery than a contest of policies and parties.

Unfortunately this year’s election may be decided on the least worst option as the positives in our politics are paltry. The parties, press and people are all culpable.

Herald Digipoll – National up, Labour crash

The latest Herald Digipoll shows National rising 4 to 50.8% despite the Judith Collins issue happening during the polling period, and Labour is down 6 to 29.5%. This is not good for David Cunliffe, who also drops 5 in ‘preferred PM’ to 11.1, lower than David Shearer ever got.

  • National 50.8% (up 4 from Dec 2013)
  • Labour 29.5% (down 5.9)
  • Greens 13.1% (up 2.3)
  • NZ First 3.6% (down 0.3)
  • Conservative 1.3% (no change)
  • Act 0.8% (up 0.8%)
  • Other 0.5% (up 0.1)
  • Maori 0.2% (down 1.1)
  • Mana 0.1% (up 0.1)
  • Undecided 11.4%

750 eligible voters were polled from Thursday March 6 to Sunday March 16. That was a period of major negative coverage of Cunliffe but only some of the Collins milk issue.

The margin of error is 3.6% (presumably at a confidence of 95%) – note that +/-3.6 only applies at a polling level of 50%, see Poll ‘margin of error’ explained.

Preferred PM:

  • John Key 66.5% (up 4.6)
  • David Cunliffe 11.1% (down 5.4)
  • Winston Peters 6.5 (down 0.8)
  • Russel Norman 4.5 (up 1.1)
  • Helen Clark 3.3 (up 0.1)
  • David Shearer 1.1 (up 0.3)
  • Shane Jones 1.1 (up 1.1)
  • Jacinda Ardern 0.8 (up 0.2)
  • Metiria Turei 0.6 (down 0.3)
  • Grant Robertson 0.5 (down 0.2)
  • Tariana Turia 0.4 (unchanged)
  • Annette King 0.2% (down 0.5)

Key is far more supported than National (16%).

Cunliffe is far less supported than Labour. Cunliffe+Clark+Shearer+Jones+Ardern+Robertson+King=18.1%

Russel Norman rates significantly higher than Metiria Turei – in the draft Green list released yesterday Turei was ranked number 1 for Greens so that would presumably put her at the top of the list for a position in a Labour/Green coalition. I’d expect Greens to be pushing for a deputy PM spot, especially on these poll results.

Comprehensive poll results including regional and gender breakdowns at NZ Herald – National, Greens up, Labour at new low.

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