Hard News by Russell Brown

77

Meanwhile back at the polls

One big advantage for the political Left of John Banks' sorry experience with the courts last week is that it meant people weren't talking about the Left's really awful result in the latest Roy Morgan poll.

Morgan has National up seven points to 52.5% support, and Labour and the Greens both down to a combined 38%. The Greens shed 4.5 points to slump to 9% support, their lowest level since 2011. This will hurt at The Standard and the Daily Blog, where Roy Morgan polls and their inclusion of mobile phones are something of an article of faith.

It's possible that this is an outlier poll -- it does, after all, show Act doubling its support -- but while Gary Morgan's commentary on the results is typically bonkers, there's nothing in particular wrong with the company's methodology. And, significantly, the swing is reflected in the regular Government Confidence Rating (whether New Zealand is "heading in the right direction" or not.) It simply looks like a very healthy post-Budget poll for National.

But a friend put another interpretation to me on Friday: that the public has had a look at Internet-Mana and decided a potential centre-left coalition is really not to its taste. Perhaps Labour has internal polling to similar effect, explaining the spluttering reaction of of a number of Labour MPs to the prospect of cooperating with the party of Kim Dotcom and Laila Harre.

I don't think the spluttering was really that coherent, but it probably is true that a large-ish group of non-tribal voters sees a multi-party centre-left coalition possibly relying on New Zealand First and Kim Dotcom as less secure than what they currently have with National. They don't even have to greatly like National to feel that way.

The difficulty in shifting that perception is evidenced by the fact that Labour is polling about the same or worse than it did when David Cunliffe replaced David Shearer -- despite Cunliffe unquestionably looking more confident, competent and potentially Prime Ministerial than Shearer ever did.

The thing that could change all that, as everyone keeps saying, is turnout. The million non-voters, the young, the poor, Maori, the simply disengaged. Will youth voter drives, activism and the steady drip of perceptions of National Party entitlement do the job?

A couple of weeks ago, I ran into a friend who told me they were working for the Internet Party. My friend had been hired in as someone with professional skills rather than a footsoldier, but admitted to finding a meeting in which the plans to spend the party's outsize war chest over the next three months quite exciting. 

The risk is that the hoopla from one small, rich party will get a good deal of attention and bring some welcome novelty -- the Internet Party's Candidate Idol exercise over the weekend was both admirable and a bit weird -- without significantly shifting the extent to which Labour and the Greens are seen as reliable parties of goverment. It's going to be an interesting few months.

 PS: If this all seems a but mundane, Andrea Vance has rounded up some conspiracy theories for you.

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