Key Points:

While it's just an online game with no claims to accuracy, people are predicting Labour's demise in the polls and winning prizes doing it.

The company that runs the online game Telecom Virtual Rugby, which 144,000 fans played during this year's Super 14, yesterday announced the results of its first Pulse of the Nation - an online survey where people cast votes for their preferred parties in virtual elections.

More than 6000 people in New Zealand and abroad voted in the first one, vying for prizes including iPod Touches.

And as actual recent polls have shown, it's the National Party that is way out in front.

The online survey, which will run every two weeks until the election, had National on 57.2 per cent, well ahead of Labour on 24.4 per cent. Labour rated significantly lower than in a June Herald-DigiPoll survey, where 32.4 per cent of all voters backed the party.

Of the minor parties, none reached the 5 per cent threshold. The Greens got 4.7 per cent support and New Zealand First 4.2 per cent.

The Maori Party scored 2.3 per cent and Act, whose leader, Rodney Hide, has signed up to take part in the online survey, registered just 1.6 per cent.

But Jimungo, the company that runs the game, said that while the outcome appeared to reinforce actual polls, people should not get too carried away by the results.

"We are definitely not claiming that we have any kind of accuracy into predicting the election result," said Jimungo's virtual electoral officer, Craig Nielson. "This is a competition where people can win prizes."

A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Helen Clark's office would not comment on the results, saying the game was not a poll.

And despite National's strong showing, a spokesman for leader John Key's office said he had no "particular comment", while adding that "most opinion polls are generally showing a strong mood for change from New Zealanders".

HOW THEY RATED
www.pulseofthenation.co.nz
Round 1 Final Results

National - 57.2%

Labour - 24.4%

Greens - 4.7%

NZ First - 4.2%

Maori - 2.3%

Act - 1.6%