There's a good reason many in Wellington have seen Labour's internal polling this week. It's amazing.
Labour's sitting on 49 per cent, National's on 35 per cent, and sitting on the threshold are both the Greens and NZ First on 5 per cent each. On those figures Labour could govern alone, NZ First loses its cherished kingmaker position and National has no pathway to government. Instead, the Opposition faces the risk of losing talented and rising MPs such as Nicola Willis.
Context is needed though. While 49 per cent is an excellent result for Labour, this is not untouchable territory yet. National rose to heights of 57 per cent a couple of months after the Christchurch earthquake.
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And while the PM and Finance Minister both deserve credit for how confidently they've executed their decisions, this is only partly a score card on their crisis management. The other part is simply a reflection of voters feeling scared. This is what happens in a crisis. That explains why Scott Morrison and Donald Trump's poll ratings surged despite Australian commentators repeatedly comparing ScoMo unfavourably with Jacinda Ardern and despite Trump failing to decide whether Covid-19 is just a flu or something worse.
Labour should be a little worried about what happens next. This crisis is only comparable to the earthquake up to a point. The quake was an act of God. Shutting down the economy for a month is an act of Government. While voters might forgive an act of God, will they be as forgiving of an act they can blame on people in the Beehive? Especially when there are perceived unfairnesses in which businesses are classified as essential and which aren't, and which businesses are saved and which aren't.
Still, these numbers might go some way to explaining a bit of political manoeuvring this week. Is this why Paula Bennett and Winston Peters both started calling for a delayed election? A later election could give the electorate time to get grumpy at Labour - the party front-and-centre in this pandemic response - and therefore bring its polling down. That could give National a better chance at the election. It could also mean Labour may need NZ First to form government
The poll numbers may also explain why Winston Peters cut the PM's lunch on Thursday morning by going on multiple radio stations and announcing the details of her plan to quarantine international arrivals only hours before the PM could do so herself. It certainly got him the kind of attention he needs to remind voters he's still around and part of a response that looks like it's only run by Labour.
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He might well want a slice of what's happening to Labour in the polls right now.
It's fantastic to see the Government finally promise to quarantine all international arrivals from here on in.
But this should have happened two weeks ago.
In the two weeks since we went into lockdown, only 6677 people have arrived in this country. We have 14,000 hotel and motel rooms in Auckland alone, and 141,000 rooms available across the country in hotels, motels, backpackers and caravan parks. We could have accommodated all those arrivals several times over.
We should have. It might have allowed us leave the lockdown early. According to Auckland University's Professor Shaun Hendy, if the government had gone as hard as it could - quarantined everyone, put police on the streets early, contact-traced extensively and tested as much as was able - we would possibly have been able to cut the four weeks short. He knows what he's talking about. He's doing the modelling on this pandemic for the government.
Going hard earlier would've saved us billions. This lockdown costs $3.5 billion a week. We need it as short as possible. The OECD says we will be the hardest hit economy in the world.
The government should be applauded for finally making the decision, but it's a decision that should've been made two weeks ago.