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Key Will Not Be Losing Any Sleep Over Political Poll, Expert

Key Will Not Be Losing Any Sleep Over Political Poll, UC Expert Says

February 21, 2013

A University of Canterbury (UC) political scientist believes Prime Minister John Key will not be losing any sleep over the latest Fairfax Media-Ipsos political poll which shows Labour inching into contention ahead of next year’s general election.

On the poll’s figures, it would be a dead-heat between a National-led bloc and a Labour-led bloc in a 122-seat Parliament.

But UC political scientist Professor Alex Tan said 18 months out from the next election, it was too early to be predicting a winner when there were many plausible factors that could change suddenly.

In politics a political scandal, for example, could sway public support. As far as Labour leader David Shearer was concerned, he was too much of an unknown to many so doubts about his performance were understandable. As the public got to know more of him, his support level could change either way, Professor Tan said.

``If you use the poll numbers and consider the 3.4 percent margin error, National could win with the support of a few more seats from coalition partners or lose outright because of few options for coalition.

``The current poll number is misleading because despite the low support levels for the minor parties currently in coalition with National, these parties tend to be able to win constituency seats. There is still a lot of time between now and the next election to be more precise about our prediction.

``I don’t think John Key is losing sleep over this nor Shearer totally excited about the number as seasoned politicians know that it is simply too far out of the election.

``However, party leaders use these numbers to get some feel of public support. Shearer may use this as a point to consolidate his hold on the Labour leadership, while Key and National may use this just as a pulse meter for how well or how poorly they have been doing in the last year or so.’’

Professor Tan said he was unsure whether there had been a marked improvement in Shearer but he is more vocal and being interviewed more.

It would only become a concern for National if the poll became a permanent trend leading into the election. If support continued to decline then they have a problem, Professor Tan said.

``We don’t have the numbers for preferred Prime Minister but in general it seems like Key is doing fine. He exudes an image that he is on top of things such as a Cabinet reshuffle, introducing younger MPs and moving a senior cabinet minister to solve problems like the Novopay issue.


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