18 Mar 2014

Cunliffe struggling to lift support

5:56 pm on 18 March 2014

Six months after taking over the leadership of the Labour Party, David Cunliffe is struggling to lift the party's support.

David Cunliffe.

David Cunliffe. Photo: RNZ

In the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey poll out on Tuesday, Labour recorded 29.5 percent support, while the National Party's support jumped to 50.8 percent.

David Cunliffe hasn't enjoyed a good start to the year and it appeared to be reflected in the poll Labour has gone below the 30 percent mark for the first time since he took over as leader.

Mr Cunliffe was elevated to the leadership last year because party members and unions believed he would better articulate Labour policy than the man he replaced, David Shearer. But so far he's done no better than Mr Shearer in building support for the party.

Mr Cunliffe said on Tuesday he is not surprised by the Herald-DigiPoll result, given that Labour has had a couple of bad weeks, but they are behind the party. "We expected to take a hit. We did. We're moving on."

His popularity has fallen almost 6 points to 11.1 percent; lower than the 12.4 percent rating of Mr Shearer. The popularity of John Key as Prime Minister has risen by 4.6 points to 66.5 percent.

The Herald-DigiPoll saw the Greens rise 2.3 percent to 13.1 percent, giving Labour and the Greens a combined 42.6 percent.

Mr Cunliffe said Labour's own polling continues to record its support in the mid-30s.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English isn't reading too much into National's good result.

"It's just another poll. There's a lot of work to do around people's expectations of what the economic recovery's going to do for them.

"It's good to see that most people think New Zealand's going in the right direction but, you know, they want to see an economy that delivers more jobs and higher incomes."

Mr English said the Government isn't complacent about that at all.

The Herald-DigiPoll surveyed 750 eligible voters between 6 and 16 March and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent.