That was a remarkable survey in the Herald today. Around 90 per cent of New Zealanders said they supported the Government's most recent lockdown, and around one in five thought it should have been even longer. An edited version of the story is here.
Few policies in any field would be a popular as that.
Perhaps even more remarkable was what it revealed about Aucklanders. Right through the level 3 lockdown media carried stories about the hardships we faced. Businesses failing, jobs gone, school students' progress undermined. The lonely and everyone at home doing it hard, all feeling that much worse.
These things were and still are real. For so many of us, the second lockdown, shorn of the novelty of the first, was not as severe but somehow it was worse. I'm pretty sure we're over it.
But were Aucklanders in revolt? Were we even divided? Despite what you might have thought from some of the photos of people on the beach, that survey revealed 89 per cent of us supported the lockdown. That compares with 91 per cent of the whole country: it's a statistically insignificant difference. That's big news.
Turns out, though we didn't like it, we don't think it was wrong. The survey suggests the prevailing view in Auckland is the same as the prevailing view elsewhere: we should stay the course. We've come this far and given up so much, it would be crazy to stop now.
To recap: When four cases of community transmission were confirmed on August 11, the Government introduced a level 3 lockdown for Auckland and put the rest of the country onto level 2. It lasted two weeks and was then extended four more days.
In the survey, 56 per cent of Aucklanders said the lockdown, complete with those extra days, was the "appropriate" response. Another 19 per cent thought it should have been even longer. All up, 75 per cent thought we should have done at least as much as we did.
Another 14 per cent supported the lockdown but not the extra four days. That adds up to 89 per cent overall in favour of the lockdown. Only 9 per cent said they were against.
In other parts of the country, curiously, a larger proportion of respondents thought the full lockdown was appropriate, but fewer thought it should have been longer. Put that another way, the proportion of Aucklanders who thought the lockdown wasn't long enough was actually higher here than in most other places.
Nationwide, the proportion against the lockdown altogether was a very small 6 per cent.
This is worth remembering as a corrective to all those voices – many of them in this newspaper – saying we have to change course. The Government should "learn how to take risks", as one writer put it recently.
What an absurd thing to say: we can argue about how well the Government is managing the risks right now, but to say they're not doing it, or don't know how to do it, is blatheringly stupid. It's all they do.
True, it's terrible going into Queen St right now and seeing how many shops have stayed closed. Auckland will need a major plan, with central Government support, if it is to have any chance of reinvigorating the city centre.
The need is acute. But the answer isn't to abandon the elimination plan.
A sobering statistic from Britain last week, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pleading with city workers to return to their offices: just one in six workers has heeded the call.
Why? Because Britain has recorded more than 40,000 Covid-19 deaths. That's 640 per million, the third-highest rate in the world. New Zealand has had 4.5 per million.
New cases in Britain fell below 1000 a day in mid-June but the trend from the start of July has been steadily back up. It's now closer to 1500 a day.
Britain lifted its lockdown when the risk was too high and is paying the price. And not just in deaths and infections. It's facing the disastrous and ongoing economic damage of a failed "return to work" policy. Britons stay away because they know their cities are still dangerous.
The survey here yesterday suggests New Zealanders understand this.
Also worth noting: the National Party's response to the elimination strategy. National is critical of the quality of border controls, the transparency of the Government's communications, the way financial relief is being used and much else. That's all good: it's their job to hold the Government to account.
But National does not attack the elimination strategy itself. It says it's the right approach. Given National conducts its own frequent polls, that suggests the party also knows what the Herald survey shows: support for the elimination strategy is strong.
About the survey: The survey was one in a series of NZ Herald/Kantar Vote 2020 polls and was conducted over the last five days of August. It had a sample size of 1000 people and a margin of error of 3.1 per cent.