With three weeks of the campaign left to run, National has this election in the bag. It's now theirs to lose.
As Guyon Espiner has said about TVNZ's latest poll - which came hard on the heels of an even worse Herald Digipoll result - it's a brutal kick in the guts for Labour who must have hoped that the polls would reflect their strong start to the campaign - see: Poll is a kick in the guts for Labour.
Labour will be particularly disappointed because its campaign had suddenly taken off, and Goff and Labour were looking dynamic for a change. In terms of style and presentation, the Labour Party has probably been winning the campaign so far. Labour's election advertising in this campaign has been superior, and they've rolled out a series of policies designed to show how compassionate and prudent they are.
But Labour's policy of raising the retirement age might be a big part of the problem. John Armstrong's Voters evenly split on super age shows that nearly half of voters disapprove of the policy, including one-third of Labour's own support base.
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Similarly, Danya Levy reports that the policy would make 30% of voters less likely to support Labour, while only 19% are more likely to support the party as a result - see: Goff's big calls fail to excite voters. David Farrar has also analysed Labour's polling woes in the column, Under 30pc - how did Labour drop so far?.
Labour has thrown everything they've got at this campaign. Yet still voters prefer a government who have presided over a tanking economy and insist on promoting asset sales to a wary public - see: National could easily govern alone - poll. Having used every weapon in their arsenal, it is hard to now see what more Labour can do. The election result is now surely beyond their control and their only hope is that National stumbles - and stumbles badly. With only three weeks to go there has to be a ten-point swing - and that's a lot of votes to pull in three weeks. Even in the most volatile electoral environment such movements rarely occur.
There's plenty in the media today about the first week of the election campaign. The best reports include Tim Watkins' Labour's bubble burst, but what's this amongst the minors?, Dim Post's Damage done, Radio New Zealand's Key proves he tries to keep in step with public opinion, TVNZ's Kiwis sticking with Key and what they know - expert, and TV3's Linda Clark on the opening week of the election.
But the big turning point of the week was the 'show me the money' line used on Phil Goff by John Key. John Armstrong reflects on this in his column and suggests that it might 'prove to be the defining moment of this election campaign'. Of course, Labour has eventually come back with its election costings, but the damage is already done. What's more, Labour is vulnerable to further attacks from National, especially as Labour's tax cuts are costed. According to Keith Ng, Labour seems 'petrified of talking about it because fiscally responsible is the new black. Unfortunately for them, it's also the biggest, most expensive goddamn thing in their policy' - see: Fiscal Responsibility is the New Black.
Perhaps it's a pity that so much of the media's coverage has concentrated on the televised leaders debate/circus this week. Elsewhere there's been plenty of alternative analysis and interviews with politicians. For example the Grey Lynn access TV station Stratos, is using an unlikely combination of Martyn 'Bomber' Bradbury, right-wing pundit Matthew Hooton, and Victoria University's iPredict market, to broadcast 'iPredict Election 2011'. So far it's managed to discuss the political issues of the day intelligently (despite host Bradbury's bombastic reputation) and entertainingly. The programme can also be watched on YouTube here.