Green Party leader James Shaw is standing by “indications” from a controversial poll that shows Nelson Green candidate Matt Lawrey could win the seat from incumbent National MP Nick Smith.
“The indication of it is that Nick Smith’s vote is collapsing here in Nelson and that it is a really tight race and that Matt has a very good chance of winning,” Shaw said on the campaign trail with Lawrey in Nelson.
However, Smith has hit out at the claims, accusing a “desperate” Green Party of “push polling”.
Push polling is when a poll is conducted in such a way that rather than trying to predict an election outcome, it tries to skew it by asking leading questions.
“This sort of polling is banned in some countries and it reflects poorly on the Greens that they have resorted to this tactic to try and save themselves,” Smith said.
“The poll question ‘Which candidate between the Green’s Matt Lawrey and Labour’s Rachel Boyack will beat Nick Smith?’ will never give a fair reading of public opinion on who is going to win the election.”
Smith said he had been contacted by “dozens of Nelsonians offended by the poll and this underhand tactic, who rightly refused to participate”.
Boyack also dismissed the automated phone poll which was carried out in the Nelson electorate as “notoriously unreliable”. Labour members had told her they had hung up after hearing the pre-recorded message.
Lawrey said the question was asked because “so many people would like to see a new MP”.
“I’ve got National party people [and] Labour party people telling me they’re going to vote for me because they have an idea of who I am, they know a bit about me and they want a change here in Nelson,” he said.
Lawrey said an automated phone poll conducted last Wednesday by the Green Party showed 29 per cent support for Smith, 25 per cent for Boyack and 23 per cent for him. Another 23 per cent of registered voters were undecided.
The poll had 824 responses, and a margin of error of 3.1 per cent.
Lawrey said the poll showed a surge in support for his candidacy compared to the 2014 election results that saw the Green candidate win 9 per cent of the vote. It also showed the collapse of Smith’s 52 per cent of the vote from three years ago.
Shaw said Smith was “in trouble here in Nelson”.
“What we’ve seen in the polling we’ve done is that there’s been a massive move towards Matt from right across the political spectrum but particularly from Nick Smith [voters].”
Polls were not exact but “do provide an indication of travel”.
“I’m confident that it gives us the indication that this is a three-way race and that Matt has a real chance of winning.”