Poll, and National’s strength and weakness

The first Colmar/TVNZ poll of the year:

  • National 49.0% (+5.0%)
  • Labour 33.0% (-2.0%)
  • Green 11.0% (-1.0%)
  • ACT 0.0% (-1.0%)
  • Maori 1.0% (nc)
  • United Future 0.0% (nc)
  • Mana 1.0% (nc)
  • NZ First 4.0% (nc)
  • Conservative 1.0% (-1.0%)

[PG: I have corrected these results, the United Future and Conservative results were misreported (and are still incorrect at TVNZ)]

‘duggledog’ comments on this at Kiwiblog:

Like Tony Blair’s Labour, National have swallowed up the entire middle ground and kept the left leaning voters JUST happy enough, and the right leaning National voters JUST happy enough.

Labour under Clark didn’t allow any fresh blood in so we see the desert they are still floundering around in five odd years later. Labour are being squeezed by an increasingly mental Green Party to the left and a soft mass appeal National Party to the right. Labour have nowhere to go, no plan, no leader, no financial nous except for robbing taxpayers, insane coalition partners and it gives the vast majority of New Zealanders the shits.

Ergo National is still riding high. They don’t have to do jack shit

And Kiwi in America (ex Labour stalwart):

duggledog has nicely summed up the political situation in New Zealand. National however will need to be on their A game from now until the election. MMP has made this a knife edge situation with the margin between centre-left and centre-right very close. National has no clear right leaning ally as yet and with the likelihood of the threshold being lowered to 4% retreating, the chances for the Conservatives making 5% are slim indeed.

John Banks may try to cling onto Epsom for one more term but his re-election there is nowhere near as sure as it was in 2011 due to the Dot Com saga. NZ First’s woes will play in National’s favour very slightly because if Winston cannot haul his controversial party across the 5% threshold then more of his voters are likely to go to National than Labour.

Despite Labour’s paucity of talent and ongoing leadership issues (a resurgent activist base clearly more hard left and not enthusiastic about the caucus backing Shearer) and the Greens starting to show their red statist hands a little more, both parties can count on mostly favourable media coverage to give them a tail wind. Any potentially troublesome issue for National will be beat up as a crisis and a scandal and the lazy young cadre of political reporters have an ongoing love affair with all things Green and so we ought not count on their more nutty and damaging policies ever receiving mainstream media critical scrutiny.

John Key remains National’s most potent weapon. His breezy kiwi bloke manner layered over his steely resolve to aggresively manage politically risky issues and Ministers and his sharp mind that remains on top of most issues means the Opposition continues to underestimate him.

For National to be polling a shade under 50% after what was (even allowing for media exaggerations) an annus horribilis for National in 2012 is testament to Key’s likeability and political management skills. There is still much that can go wrong but if the first 6 weeks of 2013 are anything to go by, if National can keep this new focus and discipline up for the next 18 months and Labour, the Greens and NZ 1st carry on like they are right now, an elusive 3rd term is possible.

With a lack of potential coalition partners of any size National have something else working against them – voter resistance to giving one party a majority. And there’s no obvious sign of a solution.

Even if the threshold is lowered that won’t happen for the next election. That makes it unlikely the Conservatives will make it – they were 0% in this poll.

Act have a major challenge – they need to visibly get their act together, and they could do with an electable replacement for John Banks. And they (and National) have to avoid getting sucked into damaging media circuses like the tea party. Key will have learned his lesson but Act will be desperate for media attention.

I still think the best potential is United Future, not based on what the party is now but what it could be. A lot will depend on whether Peter Dunne stands again or not. If he does he has a reasonable chance of retaining Ohariu, he proved he can do this by beating off a combined Labour-Green campaign against him.

But it will take major changes in the party. The policy base is sound, but UF is short on talent. In particular it needs an injection of new generation candidates who see the potential and the opportunity to fast track themselves a significant position of power. And party leadership will be available in the not too distant future.

Using an established party without significant baggage would be far more effective than trying to start a new party from scratch.

And it provides a much quicker and easier path to a significant position of power than working your way up a large party to get a winnable electorate to stand in or a decent position on the list, and then having to wait your turn in a large caucus.

Of course it’s also riskier because the future of United is in question. But people who recognise opportunites and take risks are often those who succeed.

I don’t think I’m the future of the party, it needs a new generation. But I can help anyone who’s interested.

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  1. steve

     /  18th February 2013

    The results reported on TV1 were inaccurate. The support of the Conservative party was credited to United Future by mistake.
    The poll data shows the Conservatives got over 4 times the support of United.


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