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combined poll trends now show a clear rightward shift since June

  • Written by Adrian Beaumont, Election Analyst (Psephologist) at The Conversation; and Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, The University of Melbourne

With exactly one month until New Zealand’s general election, all major polls are now showing a clear rightward trend since June.

With some recent polls showing New Zealand First on or above the 5% MMP threshold, the only real wildcard at this point is whether the party will be returned to parliament after October 14.

Otherwise, current polls[1] show National, Labour, ACT and the Greens are well clear of the 5% threshold. The Māori Party/Te Pāti Māori is expected to win Māori-roll single-member seats, and will qualify for parliamentary representation even if its party vote is below 5%.

The graph below shows the right coalition’s lead or deficit over the left coalition in all New Zealand pollsters that have released at least two polls since March. The right coalition consists of National and ACT, while the left coalition consists of Labour, the Greens and Māori.

Right coalition minus left coalition support in NZ polls since March 2023. This is calculated as National and ACT (right) minus all of Labour, Greens and Māori (left)

The election date is shown on the graph. I started this chart in March, shortly after Chris Hipkins replaced Jacinda Ardern as Labour leader and prime minister in January.

The graph has poll results and a trend line for every pollster. It is similar to a graph I have been using for Australian polls[2] on the Indigenous Voice to parliament referendum, but uses the midpoint of polls’ fieldwork periods, not the endpoint. This is because Morgan’s New Zealand polls are taken over a whole month.

(The pollster used by Television New Zealand’s 1News changed its name from Kantar Public to Verian[3] this year. I have used “Verian/Kantar” to designate this pollster.)

Read more: How to read the political polls: 10 things you need to know ahead of the NZ election[4]

From March to June, polls tended to have the left coalition ahead, but there has been a surge to the right in the past two months. The trend lines for all pollsters now have the right ahead.

The Curia poll for the Taxpayers’ Union has been the right’s best poll, while Talbot Mills has been the left’s best.

The six most recent polls show an 8.5-point lead for the right in Morgan, a 1.6-point lead in Talbot Mills, a 7.2-point lead in Curia, an 8.8-point lead in Reid Research, a 4.4-point lead in Essential and an 8-point lead in Verian/Kantar.

The Talbot Mills poll looks like a left-favouring outlier.

With the right ahead in all recent polls, the only realistic hope for the left would have been that New Zealand First made it past the 5% threshold, which could give Labour, the Greens, Māori and New Zealand First enough seats to deny National and ACT a combined majority.

However, Labour’s decision[5] to rule out working with New Zealand First leader Winston Peters makes that impossible. Peters has also ruled out[6] ever working with Labour again.

Read more: After the election, Christopher Luxon’s real test could come from his right – not the left[7]

Essential and Talbot Mills polls have New Zealand First above the 5% threshold and don’t have the right coalition ahead by enough to avoid needing it to form a government.

To complicate things further, ACT leader David Seymour has ruled out working with Peters if ACT were to be given cabinet positions in a National-led coalition.

However, in the other four most recent polls, the right is ahead by enough to form a government without New Zealand First, even if it makes the threshold.

Read more

The Conversation

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