Not many silver linings for Labour in latest polls

Last night’s TV1 and TV3 polls weren’t crash hot for National, but the news was still relatively grim for Labour.

National will be looking in concern at TV3’s Reid Research poll, showing their support at 45.9%, but it’s still an increase from the last TV3 poll. And besides, in both channels’ polls National’s share of the vote was greater by several percentage points than the combined Labour / Greens vote. With National’s support parties, ACT and United Future still looking good to hold their respective seats, and with the Maori party keeping two seats, that’s enough to get National over the line. Just.

Labour won’t be happy with its polling position. There have now been five separate major polls in a row showing Labour flatlining between 29.5% and 31.5%. And worse, David Cunliffe’s preferred Prime Minister ratings were down in single digits in both of last night’s polls, suggesting that the more people see of Cunliffe, the less they like.

Cunliffe is course still talking positive, because (let’s face it) he really doesn’t have a choice. He’s reported by stuff.co.nz as follows:

Cunliffe insisted that the Labour-led block was “neck and neck” with National and its support partners.

“Polls bounce around but all the recent ones are showing that the election will be too close to call. We are confident that as New Zealanders focus on the issues that really matter, there will be a change of government in September,” Cunliffe said in a statement.

Which is absolute rubbish. The Labour-led bloc has been “neck and neck” in just one poll recently – the latest Roy Morgan. Every other poll has shown National to be streets ahead of the collective might of Labour, the Greens and Mana. There needs to be a several percentage point swing to the left for things to be neck and neck, and that might very well happen in the coming months, but right now the polls are not saying “too close to call”. (It’s worth noting that my Poll of Polls currently shows the left-right gap to be 6.2% in favour of the right – that’s not close…)

National’s main concern will be NZ First’s position. With NZ First sitting at 7% in the Colmar Brunton poll (the party’s best polling this year by a long shot), that requires only a small shift from National to Labour, and suddenly NZ First gets to choose the government. Even with the Reid Research poll, 4.9% is dangerously close to the magic 5% threshold; indeed, it’s likely that NZ First are in fact over 5% already, given that Reid Research has historically under-reported the party’s polling position.

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