Support for National dives just as Parliament rises
By Pattrick Smellie
July 31 (BusinessDesk) - Support for the National Party has slumped five percentage points to 46 percent while combined support for the Labour and Green parties has risen 3.5 percentage points to 42 percent in the latest poll from Roy Morgan Research, released on the day that Parliament sat for the last time before the Sept. 20 general election.
If replicated on election day, it would leave the New Zealand First Party of Winston Peters once again in a position to decide who would govern the country.
While only one of the five polls regularly reported by mainstream media, the Roy Morgan result is a dramatic fall for National, which has been consistently polling above 50 percent in most polls in recent weeks, leading to increasing speculation the party might hope to govern without coalition partners, despite the tendency for New Zealand's MMP proportional representation voting system not to deliver clear majorities to single parties.
The result follows a string of gaffes for National in recent weeks, most recently Conservation Minister Nick Smith's alleged outburst against the Fish & Game Council over its advocacy for clean rivers and Prime Minister John Key's announcement earlier this week that National will not make a seat available for Colin Craig's Conservative Party.
The rolling poll was conducted between July 14 and 27, polled 818 New Zealanders and has a margin of error of approximately 1.4 percent.
The poll is especially notable for the fact that if all Opposition parties, including New Zealand First, total 49.5 percent, ahead of 48.5 percent for National and its existing coalition partners.
"If a national election were held now, the latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows that the result would likely depend on which major party New Zealand First decided to back to lead a government," Roy Morgan said.
The poll showed a 5.5 point fall in the number of people saying the country is "heading in the right direction", although the total optimists remain strong at 60 percent. Most of the movement from optimism was into the "can't say" camp, which rose from 11.5 percent to 15 percent between the poll taken in the first half of July and the latest sample.