The latest NZ political poll (Fairfax Media-Ipsos) which has the two main groupings neck-and-neck, is seriously bad news for National. Just under two years out from an election, mid-stream of a National Coalition administration with a charismatic leader and the Labour Party in disarray with a struggling new leader, and the score-board is a draw. Has to be trouble for the Key team.
- National + Maori 59 seats
- Lab + Greens 59 seats
It’s bad news, because Labour has been woeful:
- Messy Leadership changeover
- Messy new leader challenge and attempted coup
- Lack-lustre performance by David Shearer
- Lack of unity or resolve to back him
- Continuing doubts about his ability to actually do the job
- Resignation this week of a senior Lab. MP heading off to the Rainbow UN.
- Policy announcements (Housing) through which mack-trucks were driven
- Possibility Greens may still yet grow their cake amongst the 11.1% Undecideds.
Despite all this, Labour has closed the 2011 gap from 20 points to 8.6. That means the post-Clark Goff sin bin is done, and Labour can only really expect to increase, regardless of their performance, as part of the cyclical rebalancing by the NZ Electorate. Different recent polls have differing results:
- One News better for National
- Roy Morgan better for Lab/Greens
- Fairfax MI dead heat.
So at best, a draw and a hung parliament on these results.
The poll makes huge assumptions of the Maori Party, and this poll doesn’t really factor in the flow-on fallout in Canterbury of the school closures and mergers. So, this would be cause for concern inside National which has run out of allies on the Center-Right. There is still the opaque de facto ‘party’ United Future (01) and ACT (are they really a goer in 2014?) but on the Left Labour/Greens still have Mana (1-2 seats, depending on what happens within Maoridom).
NZFirst is in trouble (it was below the threshold this poll, so has not been computed into possible 2014 scenarios). Can Winston rally and re-win voter confidence? It’s hard to say. Everyone wrote him off last time and NZF snuck in over the 2011 line, against the polls which never picked it up. It is a damaged brand but never write off Winston. He doesn’t have an electorate, and is unlikely to win one, unless they can pull something from the Maori Electorates scramble amongst Maori, Mana and a revived Labour. NZFirst held all the Maori seats once.
NZ First’s fading track record
- 1993 02 seats nil PV (FPP)
- 1996 17 seats 13% (6 seats + 11 List) (MMP)
- 1999 05 seats 4.3% (1 + 4 List)
- 2002 13 seats 10% (1+12 List)
- 2005 07 seats 5.72 (1+6 List seats)
- 2008 Nil 0.00
- 2011 08 seats 6.6% (all List)
- 2013 Nil 0.00 2.8% (poll only)
Winston is also aging. He’ll be 70 at the next election, and without him, there is no NZFirst. So, National has to go a-courting over the next year. The obvious choice, the Conservative Party still the fifth ranked party since the election. Conservative has a stable 2% poll base and an impressive result in 2011 after being established only a few weeks prior. There is a definite niche here, on the back of ordinary New Zealanders’ disquiet with the extreme moral politics of Labour/Greens (Smacking, Redefining Marriage, Euthanasia).
Key areas for 2014:
- Who wins the Maori Seats (Mana? Maori? NZF? Labour?)
- The NZ Conservative Party
- Where Undecideds swing (favouring Nat 2-1 at the moment)
- Will there be a 120 seat overhang?