Final poll gives it to Key - and his allies

By Audrey Young

There will be a change of Government after tomorrow's election if the Herald-DigiPoll survey taken in the closing days of the campaign is translated to votes.

It shows National could form a new government with micro-parties Act and United Future. The three parties would have 64 seats between them, two more than the majority needed.

They would not need the support of the Maori Party to govern, although National leader John Key has said he would try to work with the party even if he did not need it.

National's support has fallen 2.5 points in the past fortnight to 47.9 per cent.

It is the first time it has been below 50 per cent since March this year.

But Mr Key is well ahead as preferred Prime Minister, with 46.2 per cent support, compared to Helen Clark's 41.6 per cent.

That is a drop of nearly four points for Helen Clark since the last poll a fortnight ago.

Mr Key has locked in Act and United Future for any government he leads with the promise of ministerial posts.

Two television polls last night also put National in power with Act and United Future, and without needing the Maori Party.

Mr Key will end his campaign today in West Auckland and his Helensville electorate after visits to Wellington, Palmerston North and New Plymouth.

Helen Clark has a marathon of visits in South and West Auckland, ending in a pub visit in Mt Eden and dinner in Ponsonby.

Labour fell only slightly in the new Herald poll, to 36.4 per cent. It, the Greens and the Progressive totalled 42.4 per cent support.

But that is eight points behind National, Act and United Future, on 50.4 per cent.

Small movements in smaller parties could have a dramatic impact on the election result.

The Greens have been consistently close to the 5 per cent threshold in polls and the margin of error on their 5.8 per cent is plus or minus 1.5.

New Zealand First again failed to reach the 5 per cent threshold and on 3.9 per cent would not get back into Parliament. But the margin of error on its result is plus or minus 1.3 per cent.

A gain of 1.1 points would not only return it to Parliament but enable it to hold the balance of power.

The popularity of party leader Winston Peters rose - almost 5 per cent of the voters polled want him to be Prime Minister.

National would have 61 seats, Act 2 and United Future 1 in a 123-seat Parliament.

The seat calculations are based on the assumption that the Maori Party would win five of the seven electorate seats.

This is what the DigiPoll survey for TVNZ's Marae programme indicated would happen.

That would put the Maori Party and the Progressive Party in overhang - winning more electorate seats that their party vote entitlement - and would expand the size of Parliament by three seats.

Mr Key said last night he sensed there was "a strong mood for change, and we'll see if that is demonstrated in the final result on Saturday night".

The same mood for change had been evident in Australia last year when it changed Government, in the United States this week and "I believe it exists in New Zealand".

Helen Clark said it would be "a travesty if that great democracy the United States, having moved left as a reaction against what's happened in the international markets ... if that were not matched by New Zealand staying with progressive politics".

"Change to what is the issue. You never have a change in government without a substantial change in policy being the consequence."

* The poll of 981 respondents was conducted between October 29 and November 5 and has a margin of error of 3.2 per cent. The undecideds were 6.2 per cent.A

- NZ Herald

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