Thursday, October 17, 2013

Poll trends

One of the rules for studying elections is to pay less attention to any individual opinion poll than the overall trend. By that measure, a change of government in New Zealand next year is looking distinctly possible.

Today Roy Morgan released their latest poll, which found that Labour was steady on 37% and the Greens were up 1% to 12.5%. That means a Labour/Greens Coalition would get 49.5% of the vote, enough to form Government. The National Party, meanwhile, was down slightly (.5%) to 41.5%. All the minor parties, apart from New Zealand First, were below the 5% threshold to get into Parliament without winning an Electorate seat, leaving National with few if any potential coalition partners.

Taking the numbers apart a bit, Labour is now only 4.5 points behind National. Also, at 37%, Labour is at its highest poll rating since October of 2008—roughly a month out from the election that would change the government from Labour to National. In the next three years (2008-11), Labour struggled to hit 30% support. Since the 2011 election, Labour has been stuck in the low-to-mid 30s.

It’s aslo significant that the Greens gained ground: Pundits had been declaring that Labour’s rising support has been coming at the expense of the Greens, but the stability of Labour’s polling with the Green’s rising suggests it’s more complicated, and that unaligned voters may be moving away from National and toward Labour and the Greens. If both Green and Labour support continues to grow in future polls, then a change of government will become even more likely.

We’re still more than a year away from the next general election, and anything could happen, but so far the trend is favourable.

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