Auckland’s Tāmaki electorate “can no longer be considered a safe blue seat,” one commentator says, with a new poll showing Act Party candidate Brooke van Velden is closing the gap.
The poll results reveal van Velden and National’s Simon O’Connor are locked in a statistical tie.
The results of the Taxpayers Union-Curia poll have been released as the two candidates go head-to-head in the union’s last debate before the election.
O’Connor is slightly ahead with 35 per cent of respondents saying they’ll give him their vote.
Van Velden, meanwhile, is hot on his heels at 33 per cent. Excluding undecided voters, van Velden has taken support for the seat’s Act candidate up 30 percentage points since the 2020 election.
Of those who voted for O’Connor at the last election, 50 per cent said they would vote for him again. Forty-three per cent, however, said they would flip to van Velden.
On the campaign trail, two voters who had “always voted National” told the Herald they thought O’Connor hadn’t been visible as their Member of Parliament.
“If it wasn’t for Brooke standing, we would have blindly gone for the invisible man,” Tāmaki voter Margaret said, a reference to O’Connor.
“That’s his nickname now,” she said.
O’Connor was known as one of the more conservative National MPs of the last government, evidenced by his strong opposition to abortion, while van Velden was one of the more socially liberal Act MPs.
Tāmaki has been a National stronghold for decades, Taxpayers Union’s head of campaigns Callum Purves said, with former prime minister Sir Robert Muldoon winning it in 1960.
“But it can no longer be considered a safe blue seat,” Purves said.
“Today’s poll suggests there has been a massive turnaround [since] Simon O’Connor outpolled the National party vote ... in 2020.
“With the difference between [O’Connor and van Velden] being within the margin of error for this poll, either candidate could be ahead in this contest [which] is likely to go right down to the wire,” he said.
Law and order was the biggest issue for Tāmaki voters, the poll showed.
Twenty-eight per cent of poll respondents ranked law and order as the most important local issue, while the cost of living was ranked most important by 21 per cent of respondents.
The economy was the biggest issue for 11 per cent of respondents and climate change was the salient issue for 7 per cent.
The poll was conducted between September 18 and 28, with a sample size of 409 eligible voters. Five thousand landline and mobile phone numbers were called at random.
Raphael Franks is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He joined the Herald as a Te Rito cadet in 2022.