Labour continues to be mired inÂ theÂ 20s, the Greens are slowly climbing towards the 20s…hoovering up the disaffected hard left of Labour as The Cunliffe continues to disappoint.
Could convergence become an issue, where the Greens supplant Labour as the largest opposition party.
Matthew Hooton discussed that in his column at the NBR:
Donâ€™t rule out convergence.
Labourâ€™s disastrous decision to replace David Shearer with David Cunliffe and spend nearly a year swinging to the far left has inevitably crashed its poll numbers.
The recent ploy toÂ swing back to the centreappears to have come too late. The days are long gone when Mr Shearer had Labour polling around the mid-30s and, with the Greens in the low teens, well on track to become prime minister. In both the major polls released this week,Â Roy MorganÂ andÂ Fairfax-Ipsos, Mr Cunliffeâ€™s Labour was languishing under 25%.
Both polls were taken mainly after Mr Cunliffeâ€™s apology for being a man, but also after his majorÂ education announcements. Despite Labour strategists privately claiming their internal polling responded favourably, the public polls suggest that the promises of cheap laptops and slightly smaller classes have failed to capture the imagination of middle-class parents.
Worse for Labour, while there may be good evidence the polls tend toÂ overestimate Nationalâ€™s support by aroundÂ 5%Â at the expense of smaller parties, the trend line for Labour in at least the last two elections has almost exactly predicted its actual party vote.
In 2011, Phil Goff led Labour to its worst result since 1925. If Mr Cunliffeâ€™s tilt to the centre continues to fail, he risks taking New Zealandâ€™s oldest political party below the 24% it won in the first two elections following the World War I.
Poll numbers also have an element of self-fulfilling prophecy. People donâ€™t like voting for losers. As the election nears, Labour risks losing a crucial few further points to the Greens, Internet-Mana and NZ First.
Bill English currently wears the electoral dunce cap in the New Zealand parliament, having led National to its 21% debacle in 2002. The finance minister may dare to hope he might finally get to pass it on to Mr Cunliffe after September 20.
For all this, the risk of a change of government remains high. Â Read more »