Political junkies need their fix. We love polls, focus groups, internal polling. It's all like heroin to us. We need our next fix. What does it mean? What does the electorate think? Did that poll use landlines? It must be rogue. What's the trend? One-off polls mean nothing!
All these lines get trotted out ad nauseam. Last night Newshub's poll saw Labour plummeting nine points since the last Newshub poll to 41.6 per cent and National gaining six points to 43.9 per cent, which in most cases would be a seismic shift.
However, the last Newshub poll was over four months ago, after the budget came out that was broadly well received. Since then there has been a succession of high profile bad news stories for the Government, from KiwiBuild being reset, to the sexual assault and rape allegations.
During this time, National has looked relatively stable and so might be an appealing option. If this poll is demonstrative of a trend with Labour dropping dramatically and National in the ascendancy then there's a serious issue for the Government. But that's to be determined.
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If you look a bit deeper into the numbers from last night's poll then a different story starts to emerge. First off, National is still polling below its election result, and Labour considerably above. The Greens also polled just over 6 per cent in last night's poll and on these numbers Labour and the Greens would have a majority in the house. NZ First came in just under the magical 5 so would not get in. However, the coalition and Greens are still 10 points ahead of the opposition.
Last night's poll gave National absolutely no path to power. There is nothing it could do to become the Government if the election result next year mimics last night's poll. National on just under 44, and even with ACT on a dramatically higher 1.4 per cent would still not be enough. And if NZ First doesn't get back in then National just cannot do it. Especially since James Shaw said he'd never empower someone with as little personal integrity as Simon Bridges with being Prime Minister.
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And we can see that lack of personal integrity shining through in the preferred Prime Minister ratings. These are fairly silly polls but the leader of the Opposition should be higher than 6.7 per cent, while over 50 per cent think he's "performing poorly" and only 24 per cent thought he was performing well. For the Prime Minister, over 62 percent say she's performing well, while just 23 per cent think she's performing poorly.
National's biggest problem still remains that it has no friends. It has a little under a year to try to create some friends, keep them at arm's length while at the same time not lose any voters to these magical new parties. It's a big ask. It's had two years to do this and has made no progress beyond letting Alfred Ngaro publicly flirt with the idea of defecting but then deciding against it. Nothing it has done suggests it will be capable of making friends in the next 12 months.
Labour's biggest problem is that it's almost wholly reliant on the personal popularity of Jacinda Ardern. Other senior ministers need to start telling good news stories or the party's support will just wither. Health is one area where it should be continually cutting ribbons and telling good news but we just hear nothing. It needs to take a look at what went down in the Wellington mayoral election where Labour man Justin Lester was voted out in a bit of a shock.
Justin was by and large well-liked and in the aftermath of the Kaikoura earthquakes his leadership was considered top class, however his mayoral campaign didn't exist as such, and he never really pointed to any concrete examples of what he'd done for Wellington. Andy Foster promised a second Mt Vic tunnel and it seemed to have won him the mayoral chains of the capital.
The lesson here for Labour is to have a laundry list of things it can point to that it's achieved and to keep hammering the electorate with that message. Because at the moment the main message we've been getting is that Jacinda Ardern is a great and wonderful leader but the party hasn't really done much. Oh and promise Wellington a tunnel. Maybe Stephen Joyce was right. People do seem to love a road.