Friday, April 15, 2005


When the polls are looking good, politicians highlight them as much as possible, and when they're not, they tend to resort to the "there's only one poll that counts" cliche. Both views are nonsense. The polls do tell us a lot, but only when trends over time are analysed.

TV3's recent TNS poll is an interesting one, and spells bad news for the opposition. While nothing incredibely dramatic emerges in the Party vote figures (Labour down 1 to 45% and the Nats down 4 to 34%), this months result does confirm a medium-term trend which has seen Labour support steady over the past half year, while Nationals is inching down towards 30%.

Importantly, the TNS poll also tracks Party leader support, and this I believe is very telling. The number of people rating the PM as performing well in her role has stayed steady at around 60% right through this term (with those saying she is not performing well also stable at around 20%). Brash's figures on the otherhand are in terminal decline. His overall performance rating has declined over every poll since Orewa from 58% down to 30%, while those saying the reverse have increased from 22% to 47% over the same period.

The most recent measure of Brash's support amongst National Party voters shows a serious decline, suggesting that this general lack of confidence may be causing even the core vote to look around for 'less bad' options. It will be interesting to see if this figure becomes a trend over the next few months.

I highlight the trends that relate to leadership performance because confidence, or lack of confidence in a leader has always been essential to political success in New Zealand, and this is even more so given the Presidential-style election campaigns that are now waged. Even through tough patches for Labour, Helen Clark's credibility with the electorate has remained high and I suspect that leadership will be one of the decisive advatntages for Labour through the campaign this year.


Graham Watson said...

I wouldn't get too smug, there is a lot of ground between now and the election.

michael wood said...

I agree completely, and certainly don't take anything for granted.

I guess what I'm saying is that there are clear trends which suggest that the return of a Labour-led govt looks more likely than any other option. It will take some kind of 'circuit breaker' to shift the underlying trend - and I suppose that these things a more likely to happen during an election campaign than at any other point.

Every vote will need to be hard fought for.