Can Ardern lift Labour's polling?

8:59 am on 2 August 2017

Poll of Polls - Can Jacinda Ardern lift Labour's polling now she is leader, as she briefly did when she became deputy? Colin James looks at the polls.

No caption

Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

Three polls in late July dragged Labour down to a 24.0 percent average in RNZ's Poll of Polls. This was from 26.5 percent in June and 29.4 percent in May.

At 24 percent just two MPs would come in off the list if electorate MPs all held their seats.

In March, after Ardern was elected deputy, Labour's average lifted from 27.8 percent in four polls taken in February to 30.6 percent.

If she can double that lift as leader, Labour and the Greens might be back in the game.

In July some voters appeared to desert Labour for the Greens. Their July average was 13.4 percent, up from 12.4 percent in June.

Other voters appeared to have been going to New Zealand First, up from 10.7 percent in June to 13.0 percent.

And still others may have been toying with Gareth Morgan's Opportunities party. Barely registering in June, it was 1.8 percent in July, with potentially helpful exposure in the campaign proper still to come.

All good for National? Its trend has been gently down this year. In July its average was 45.4 percent, down from 45.9 percent in June and not enough to govern with only its three present small partners.

This time three years ago, National was cruising around 50 percent.

No caption

Photo: RNZ

Those three small partners look stuck: the Māori Party on 1.3 percent and ACT on 0.7 percent, close to their 2014 election scores, and United Future on a vanishingly small 0.1 percent.

Translated into seats, National would have 56, Labour 29, the Greens 16 (making a Labour+Greens total of 45) and New Zealand First 16.

Assuming Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell holds Waiariki and ACT's David Seymour holds Epsom, both highly likely, and Peter Dunne holds Ohariu - in doubt - National's team would have 60 seats, one short of a majority and needing help from New Zealand First (or a defecting Green?).

Meantime, UMR's measure of whether the country is on the right or wrong track continued to slide in July: from a highly positive 65 right-track to 24 wrong-track in December 2016 to 57-33 in June and 53-35 in late July.

If that downtrend continues through to the election, National is likely to trend down with it.

* The poll-of-polls is an arithmetical average of the four most recent major polls from among: TV1 Colmar Brunton, TV3 Reid Research, Roy Morgan New Zealand plus the unpublished UMR Research (for the Labour party) and Curia (for the National party). The latest average is from, in chronological order of the polling midpoint, Curia, UMR, TV3 and TV1. The first point on the charts is the actual 2014 election result. Only Morgan, UMR and Curia have polled in every month since the election and Curia has been included only since September 2016. In the past polls for the New Zealand Herald and the DominionPost were included but these have been discontinued. UMR has given permission to use its right-track-wrong-track figures.

  • Ardern: 'I absolutely believe that I am up to the job'
  • Profile: Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis
  • The rise and rise of Jacinda Ardern
  • Little reveals he offered to hand over Labour leadership