Audrey Young 's Opinion

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Audrey Young: Cunliffe, Key and that poll

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David Cunliffe. Photo / APN
David Cunliffe. Photo / APN

It was disappointing to hear David Cunliffe suggesting today's Herald DigiPoll survey putting Labour at 29.5 per cent is off the mark.

On the one hand he said he accepted that Labour's polling has suffered from him using a trust for donations to his leadership campaign.

The next thing he is touting his party's own internal polling which apparently puts Labour at 34 per cent.

The fact is that if Labour's own polling is 34 per cent, it is at odds not just with DigiPoll, but with two other recent polls: Roy Morgan on March 6 which had Labour at 30.5 per cent and the Ipsos Fairfax poll a month ago which had Labour at 31.8 per cent.

The DigiPoll result of 29.5 is not much lower in reality but falling into the 20s from 30 is like falling into a canyon and is devastating for any party with designs on Government.

Perhaps suggesting that Labour is still at 34 per cent is one of those things you say to prevent party activists from becoming too demoralised.

It is worth noting that the last DigiPoll survey before the last election had Labour at 28 per cent, and on election day it polled 27.48 per cent.

It is also worth noting that nobody in Labour questioned the polling six months ago when DigiPoll was the first to show a huge jump in Labour's support following Cunliffe's earlier in the month.

By the way, that was a front page lead as well under the headline "Labour rockets in poll" just as today's poll result was a front page lead when it's support had sunk.

The polling period for today's poll was March 6 to 16. So it began a couple of days after Cunliffe had finally declared his use of a trust and it covered the whole period in which Judith Collins was on the rack over her contact in China with the New Zealand export company Oravida.

Perhaps Labour thinks that what it lost on the trusts issue it should have gained in exposing Collins.

In fact the Collins episode is more likely to have helped Key rather than Labour - he jumped 4.6 points as Preferred Prime Minister in today's poll compared to December.

It was Key who was misled by Collins and it was he who insisted she apologise publicly and it was he who effectively put her on notice.

All that helped Key in the short term anyway. At the very least we can conclude National at 50.8 was not damaged by it.

That may change now with Labour keeping up the heat on Collins and Key being away in China.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor, a job she has held since 2003. She is responsible for the Herald’s Press Gallery team. She first joined the New Zealand Herald in 1988 as a sub-editor after the closure of its tabloid rival, the Auckland Sun. She switched to reporting in 1991 as social welfare and housing reporter. She joined the Herald’s Press Gallery office in 1994. She has previously worked as a journalism tutor at Manukau Technical Institute, as member of the Newspapers in Education unit at Wellington Newspapers and as a teacher in Wellington. She was a union nominee on the Press Council for six years.

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