Jacinda Ardern sceptical about surprise new poll
With the New Zealand election just 54 days away, a surprising poll has shown Prime Minister Jacinda Arden’s Labour Party surging to an unprecedented level of support.
According to the Newshub-Reid Research poll, Labour is an astonishing 61 per cent, with the country’s main opposition party, National, at just 25 per cent. The Greens have 5.7 per cent, and every other minor party is in the low single digits.
If the poll were replicated at the election on September 19, Labour would end up with 77 MPs, easily enough to govern without a coalition partner.
That never happens under New Zealand’s “mixed member proportional” (MMP) electoral system.
No party has ever obtained more than the 60 seats claimed by National in 2014, when it was led by John Key.
Things aren’t looking too bright for the centre-right party anymore.
Back in May, National let go of their leader Simon Bridges because according to surveys, their support at the time was 30 per cent - five points higher that it is today.
Since then, the party has been in chaos.
The man who replaced Bridges, Todd Muller, lasted 53 days before he quit, saying the job had taken a “heavy toll” on him and had become “untenable from a health perspective”.
Earlier in the month, the leadership passed to veteran MP Judith Collins, a former justice and police minister.
And to top it off, many senior MPs announced they were leaving politics at the election, as maybe the sensed an upcoming defeat.
“The National Party is in full-blown self-destruct mode,” Newshub’s political editor Tova O’Brien said today.
“Ms Ardern looks untouchable, thanks in large part to National’s dysfunction and dismay.”
Collins has dismissed the poll, saying the party’s own data is much more optimistic.
“I don’t believe it at all. I think it’s entirely out of kilter; it’s absolutely opposite to what we’re hearing in the electorates,” she said.
“The poll itself doesn’t go anywhere near where our polling is. The polling itself is clearly wrong.”
“When they applied that methodology, you’re going through selecting people who meet certain criteria that you want to have inside your polls – age groups and diversity – but that doesn’t mean you are always getting a truly random sample of what people are thinking, politically,” Mr Brownlee told Morning Report.
“This is drastic and inconsistent with our own polling.”
According to O’Brien, however, Ms Collins’ initial reaction to the poll was very different.
“They know that this poll is the most accurate poll. It was at the last election,” O’Brien said.
“When I first spoke to (Ms Collins) and gave her those numbers she said, ‘That’s disappointing, we need to do better.’ In the morning when she got the numbers, she was telling quite a different story.”
Ms Ardern, for her part, is approaching the situation with cautious optimism.
“Whether they’re high, whether they’re low, I always keep a healthy scepticism around polls, generally. I do keep an eye on trends though,” the Prime Minister told The AM Show today.
“I’d like to think the trend, or at least what message we can take from this, is general support for the government’s COVID recovery and response plan.
“But I’m never, ever complacent, and nor is the Labour Party. This is a really crucial time for New Zealand. We need to keep demonstrating that we’re focused, and we’ll be doing that every day of the election.”