Polls show coalition well-placed in second year of govt

11:32 am on 29 October 2018

Poll of Polls - A year on from when the coalition government was sworn in, it has built voter support.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (left) and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters (right) in the House. March 27 2018

File photo of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters in Parliament in March this year. Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

Since July, Labour alone has been competitive with or ahead of National, even through the August-September political management slips. The 1 News Colmar Brunton poll taken from 15-19 October had Labour at 45 percent and National at 43 percent and the unpublished UMR October poll was comparable.

That is a big shift from the seven-point lead National had over Labour in the September 2017 election.

So the government's August-September troubles have been a buzz for political junkies, not a driver of national public concern - and in any case have been eclipsed by this month's Jami-Lee Ross debacle.

The coalition as a whole now has a clear poll majority. In the 1 News poll Labour and the Greens alone together scored 52 percent.

Newshub has not (so far) produced a poll since May. As a result, RNZ cannot present a poll-of-polls average. The running RNZ poll of polls was suspended in June because there are not enough published polls to draw on.

But it can be said that Labour and its two allies head into their second year well-placed. And inter-party coalition disagreements are now being better managed behind Beehive walls.

The Greens have been consistently clear of 5 percent, now around 7 percent. New Zealand First has been around 5 percent, which is about its 2017 election support (if those who voted for it but wanted it to go with National are subtracted from its seven percent in that election).

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Consistent with the coalition's firm support, UMR has consistently shown strongly positive assessment that the country is going in the "right direction". The right direction figure has fluctuated very close to 60 percent since May - only slightly down from the peak after the government was formed.

That is far above the "wrong track" reading ranging from 25 to 31 percent.

One reason is Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

In the October 1 News poll, she was at 42 percent as preferred prime minister. National leader Simon Bridges was at 7 percent.

In UMR, Ms Ardern's approval rating has been consistently in the 72-76 percent range since March, comparable with Sir John Key at his most popular. Her disapproval rating has ranged from 14 to 24 percent.

Mr Bridges, by contrast, has sunk into negative territory. His approval rating since May has ranged from a high of 45 percent to a low of 31 percent, and from July has been eclipsed by his disapproval rating, which has ranged from 37 to 50 percent.

In the October 1 News poll potential successor Judith Collins was just two points behind him.

The party support and leader assessment figures contrast starkly with the business' negative economic outlook, as in the ANZ's monthly survey and the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research's quarterly survey of business opinion.

But those same measures of businesses' expectations for their own activity are either much less pessimistic (ANZ) or positive (NZIER). The NZIER measure is still above where it was at one point in 2016 and is to a large extent driven by difficulties in finding employees.

Still, 1 News and UMR both report general public economic confidence now negative. That is cause for concern for Ms Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

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