Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Thumbs down for Len Brown - poll

Less than a quarter of voters willing to give mayor a third term, poll shows
Women and elderly particularly staunch in opposition after sex scandal

51.6% of respondents believed he could still be an effective advocate of Auckland's interests for the remainder of this three-year term. Photo / Sarah Ivey
51.6% of respondents believed he could still be an effective advocate of Auckland's interests for the remainder of this three-year term. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Len Brown will find it tough to be re-elected Mayor of Auckland, according to a new Herald-DigiPoll survey.

Only 22.7 per cent of the people questioned in this month's poll said they would vote for Mr Brown in the 2016 elections; 57.7 per cent said they would not. The other 20 per cent said they did not know or did not vote in local body elections.

The poll suggests women and the elderly were particularly upset by revelations about his extramarital affair and undeclared hotel stays.

However, Mr Brown can take some comfort from the survey, which found 51.6 per cent of respondents believed he could still be an effective advocate of Auckland's interests for the remainder of this three-year term.

When asked if the mayor should have resigned last year after revelations of his misbehaviour, 50.2 per cent said yes and 37.7 per cent said no. A further 12.1 per cent did not know.

This is a reversal of the result of a Herald-DigiPoll survey taken a few days after the affair became public last October.

At the time, 51 per cent of Aucklanders said he should stay and 39.5 per cent said he should resign.

A gender and age breakdown of the latest figures showed women and the elderly are particularly upset with the behaviour of the mayor, who is married with three daughters. His affair with council adviser Bevan Chuang lasted for two of the three years of his first term.

Nearly two-thirds of women and 69.7 per cent of people aged over 65 say they will not vote for him in future.

Men, on the other hand, are slightly more forgiving of Mr Brown, with 44.6 per cent saying he should have resigned last year, compared to 55.2 per cent of women.

Mr Brown declined to comment on the poll, but his head of communications, Dan Lambert, said the results appeared to reinforce what he has been saying for the past couple of months - a majority of Aucklanders want him to get on with the job.

Political commentator and public relations expert Matthew Hooton said that in voters' minds, Mr Brown was a two-term mayor, but that did not mean he could not be effective in his second term. "He is the mayor and he has the authority that comes with that. The idea he is going to resign is fanciful." Mr Hooton said.

Lawyer and feminist commentator Catriona MacLennan said the poll result reflected that women do not believe that Mr Brown's affair was a private matter and could see he used his powerful position to obtain sex from a young woman.

"Many New Zealand women have encountered this behaviour in their own working lives.

"I and other women wish there was greater condemnation and consequences for such behaviour so that it becomes less prevalent in future," Ms MacLennan said.

Cameron Brewer, one of five councillors who want Mr Brown to resign, said the poll showed his strategy to ignore the elephant in the room and pretend nothing had happened had not worked and the public remained unimpressed six months on from the sex scandal.

"The real risk is that he will try to spend his way out of it, clinging onto the mad hope of a third term," he said.

The poll of 248 Auckland voters was taken between March 6 and March 16. Of those, only 31.3 per cent voted for Mr Brown last year.

- NZ Herald

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