Good news for Bill Shorten

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Unlike the recent volatility we’ve been seeing in the polls in New Zealand (and I highly recommend Rob Salmond’s piece on the latest Herald poll), here in Australia we’re seeing a very strong trend emerging, with the Labor opposition under Bill Shorten rapidly taking over from the Government in popularity stakes. This morning’s Age reports

In a double blow to the Prime Minister, it found the only honeymoon is actually being enjoyed by his direct opponent, Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten.

In fact, Mr Shorten’s personal approval continues to climb with fully two-thirds of voters viewing his performance as either satisfactory (41.5%) good (15.9%) or very good (9.2%).

The ReachTEL/Seven News survey of more than 3500 voters was taken on Sunday afternoon, the eve of the 100-day milestone.

It confirmed the findings of the most recent Fairfax-Nielsen and Newspoll surveys revealing that Mr Shorten’s ALP Opposition already leads by 4 percentage points at 52/48 over the Coalition.

Even on primary votes, Labor is virtually level pegging with the combined Liberal and Nationals parties at 40.4 per cent to the Coalition on 41.4.

Bad news for Colin Craig

Despite having endless media coverage since Louisa Wall’s marriage equality members bill was drawn a few weeks ago, the latest Roy Morgan poll has bad news for Colin Craig.

His Conservative Party have dropped 1.5%, down to a total of 1.5%.

He’ll be deeply disappointed by this result. I’ve heard many people predict that Louisa’s bill might just be the catalyst that Colin Craig needs to get into Parliament, but he simply doesn’t seem to be getting any traction.

Also, from Gary Morgan, on the result of the poll:

A potential Labour/Greens alliance (46%, up 5%) now holds a significant advantage over National (44%) and means if a New Zealand Election were held now it would be ‘too close to call’ and depend on the voting results of minor parties and whether they crossed the 5% threshold to win list seats.

Good trends

As you may have noticed, Labour have been doing rather well in recent polls. Tony Milne has written a useful piece pointing out the trend that is emerging, which he has since updated to cover last week’s One News poll, and this evening’s 3 News poll.

(Side point: tonight’s poll has National on 45.8% and John Key’s personal popularity plunging to 40.5% – not good for Mr Key)

Of course, I’m quite satisfied with how this trend is emerging. There is one minor issue though which hasn’t had much (if any?) coverage.

Both Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples are on record saying that they won’t contest the next election. Fair enough, and all the best to them.

This does however create problems for pollsters who traditionally calculate how many seats there would be in Parliament by assuming the number of electorate seats each party holds will stay static, and then extrapolating their poll results out for the party vote.

In a situation where two electorate MPs are going to retire, this does create an interesting situation.

Being the partisan hack I am, I re-ran the numbers from tonight’s poll, using the scenario whereby Turia and Sharples retire in 2014 and Labour retakes those electorate seats. I realise that is a very subjective assumption, and might be something I write about in future, and I certainly hope Morgan Godfery writes about.

Anyway. Here are the numbers according to tonight’s 3 News poll:

Party Poll % Electorate Seats Total Seats
ACT 0.5 1 1
Greens 14.4 0 18
Labour 33.2 22 42
Mana 0.3 1 1
Maori 1.4 3 3
National 45.8 42 57
United Future 0 1 1
123

As Duncan Garner pointed out and David Farrar was happy to re-iterate, on these numbers, the Maori Party would have the balance of power. National + ACT + UF + Maori would have 63 seats (the exact number needed to govern in a 123 seat Parliament), on the other side, Labour + Greens + Maori would also have 63 seats, and they could possibly also get Hone on side. We could speculate until the cows come home who would get to form the government, but lets take another look, assuming that Labour pick up Tamaki Makaurau and Te Tai Hauauru.

Party Poll % Electorate Seats Total Seats
ACT 0.5 1 1
Greens 14.4 0 18
Labour 33.2 24 42
Mana 0.3 1 1
Maori 1.4 1 2
National 45.8 42 57
United Future 0 1 1
122

With the Maori Party reduced to one electorate seat, their 1.4% of the party vote is just enough for them to bring in a list MP (I’d assume that Te Ururoa Flavell would be joined by Rahui Katene). Labour’s total number of seats of course does not change, but the size of Parliament reduces by one seat, meaning you could pass a budget with 62 votes rather than 63.

This dramatically changes things. National + ACT + UF + Maori would now only muster 61 seats, and simply would not be able to form a government. Labour + Green + Maori would have their requisite 62 seats, and as before could take that to 63.

It does show quite clearly just how close things are at the moment. If National lose just a few more percentage points to Labour, then John Key would have absolutely no way of forming a government.

One final thing: never write Winston off.

Death by a thousand cuts

Roy Morgan have just released their third poll post-election, and its more good news for Labour and more bad news for National. The trend is continuing.

Labour have gained half a percentage point at National’s expense. Interestingly the Greens have dropped down to 11% and New Zealand First have gained half a percentage point, now up to 6% – undoubtably off the back of Winston’s strong performances in the house.

The opposition now commands 51.5% versus the government’s 48.5%. The proportion of New Zealanders who think we’re heading in the right direction has dropped 4 points – not insignificant – and now sits at 57%.

It’s not a huge gain, but it’s certainly movement in the right direction. With the mess the government is finding itself in over dozens of issues, I’d expect this to be the trend for some time to come.

More good news for Labour…

I’ve been doing a bit more thinking about last night’s 3 News poll (my original analysis is here). I’ve spoken to one or two Labour people who are far less optimistic about the numbers than myself. Fair enough: the last time Labour was polling higher than National was 2006 – we’re not used to good news from polls.

Four additional points, all rather important…

  1. This is the first time the “left block” (those parties now in opposition) have polled higher than the “right block” (those now in government) – since 2006. This is very significant.
  2. The 3 News poll is not a rogue poll, it is part of a trend. It is in line with the other two, Roy Morgan, polls published this year (here and here).
  3. Looking at the change in support in the 3 News poll – Labour has gained 3.3% support – and it’s all come at National’s expense. This is excellent news. In an MMP environment, the only way to form a government is if you and your mates have the majority of the vote. David Shearer is only going to become Prime Minister if he can take votes off the National Party, and so far it looks like this is happening.
  4. John Key’s own personal popularity (45.6%) is lower than the National Party’s (46.5%) for the first time. Ever. If this trend continues, then it’s only a matter of time until his leadership will come under question, and the vultures (Steven Joyce, Judith Collins etc) will start to circle.

There is still a lot of work to be done, and a lot of water to go under the bridge. Neither of these can be over stated. Still, these are very encouraging signs.

Good news for Labour

There were some fascinating numbers in the first 3 News Reid Research poll, released this evening.

It shows that John Key is dropping down in popularity, and David Shearer has made a strong first impression.

Firstly, the party vote numbers…

National – 46.5% – down 3.3%

Labour – 29.4% – up 3.4%

Greens – 13.3% – down 0.1%

NZ First – 5% – up 1.9%

The next highest party is the Conservatives on 1.4%. Special mention must go to ACT, who are down 0.8% and are only polling 0.2%.

On these numbers, and taking into account electorate seats, it is likely that David Shearer would be the Prime Minister. A combined Labour/Green/NZ First government would have 47.7% versus National’s 46.5% (I’m going to take a punt and assume that the Maori Party aren’t going to survive after Tariana Turia and Pita Sharpes retire at the end of this term).

They’ve also done polling on preferred prime minister. It’s not looking good for John Key who is polling at 45.8% – his lowest ever rating. David Shearer is in the poll for the first time, and his first ever preferred prime minister rating is 10.1%. This is higher than Phil Goff ever got – a very promising sign.

With the continued unpopularity of the Government’s asset sales agenda, their bungling of the sale of the Crafar Farms and the continued instability in National’s coalition partners, it’s going to be a very interesting year!