When the latest One News Colmar Brunton poll was released last night, the headline figures were: Labour down five points, National up one and NZ First and the Greens easing over the five per cent threshold.
Could this be a sign the Government was suffering? A few uncomfortable episodes (Clare Curran’s fumbling, diplomatic missteps over Russia and Shane Jones’s forgetfulness among them) have set the Government back a few pegs.
The temptation to connect a single poll result with recent goings on is real. But it’s generally unwise.
THE POLL OF POLLS
Stuff’s Poll of Polls is a time-weighted average of the most recent poll from the three major political polling companies in New Zealand – Colmar Brunton, Reid Research and Roy Morgan. This means it is less prone to fluctuations in a single poll and takes more of a long-run view of political polling trends.
Once the latest numbers are incorporated it puts National on 44 per cent and Labour on 43.
Although National is ahead, Labour has rarely been as close to them as it is right now.
In fact, on the poll of polls, Labour has actually closed a gap to National that had opened up after the election in September last year.
Support for Labour is seven points higher than it was on election night and the party is still more popular than it has been at any time since 2008.
Support for Labour is probably about six points higher than it was during the election campaign and towards the end of last year. While they remain some 16 points better off than they were before Jacinda Ardern took over as leader.
There may have been spike followed by a dip in support for Labour over the last month or two, or the poll that had Labour on 48 per cent may have been an outlier.
Either way, we can be reasonably confident that support for Labour is above where it was during and immediately after the election and significantly above where it was under Andrew Little’s leadership.
Of course, the Government represents much more than just Labour.
There is nothing wrong with comparing National and Labour but the Government’s supporters reckon the fairer comparison is between National and Labour plus NZ First plus the Green Party.
The two junior partners were up slightly in the latest Colmar Brunton poll, but our poll of polls suggests that overall their support has ebbed away slightly since the election. The Greens are on 6 per cent and NZ First 5 per cent, respectively.
But the boost in Labour’s numbers is significant enough that combined support for the governing coalition is 54 per cent, up 3.5 points from the election.