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Molesworth & Featherston (Weekend) – 15 Sept. 2005

Molesworth & Featherston - Weekend Update edition

Business and Political News
15 September 2005

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Rolling average poll
Out for the count

Huge swings from poll to poll have culminated in two, the NZ Herald and TV 3 putting Labour ahead, and one, One News, putting National ahead.

Our final pre-election rolling average poll puts National marginally ahead, but with NZ First and United holding a majority of seats only if the Maori Party don’t get overhang. With leaders holding their seats, the numbers are:

Labour 39.72 49
National 40.76 51
Greens 5.79 7
NZ First 5.96 7
Maori 1.81 2 (4)
United Future 2.55 3
Progressives 0.50 1
Act 1.64 0
Destiny 0.72 0

Despite a thumping lead in this morning’s Herald poll, Labour actually lost ground in the average because an even larger lead for them dropped out -- emphasising the trend in the closing days has been towards National.

(Another poll, for the Otago Daily Times, is not incorporated in our rolling average, but produced similar results). The electorate is always volatile with many voters making up their minds on election day. But late deciders don’t usually swarm in a single direction as much as we have seen this year.

National has led three out of the last five polls, giving its troops greater confidence. Labour is saying its tracking polls have it behind, but by about 3 points while National says it is ahead, but it is a tight race.

A number of electorate polls of dubious validity are in circulation. A Farmers’ Weekly poll found seventy per cent of farmers want a National government. (In the interests of balance we quickly polled the executive of the EPMU and the CTU. and found 98 per cent for Labour).

The parties
The path to power.

New Zealand First has given National the pathway it needs. One way or another, all pathways to power lie through or over New Zealand First.

If National wins a greater share than Labour, and NZ First hangs on in parliament, a National- United Future government supported by NZ First looks it. With the prospect of Maori Party overhang (more electorate seats than their party vote share would win), they will need enough share between the three to total 61 or 62 seats.

Paradoxically, the Nat-UF-NZF option seems most likely with National polling around 40-41 per cent. If National increases a point or two, it will be at NZ First’s expense. Then National may reach 42 or 43, knock NZ First out of Parliament and still not have enough votes to form a government, even if it’s the biggest contender. (It’s not impossible National could be the largest single party and still in Opposition). National’s numbers on Saturday night then may need to be around 40-41 per cent (with NZF) or 45+ (without).

If Labour-plus-Progressive have a larger share than National, then NZ First’s backing could put them over the top without the Greens.

The prospect of a deal that provided for both the Greens and NZ First giving support seems tenuous. So Labour needs to get within range to achieve power with the support of either one of them. If it gets into the 43+ range, it will risk pushing the Greens below 5. If the Greens get much more than five per cent, they will want it to be from non-voters, not Labour voters, or they will risk the chance of changing the government by pushing Labour’s share below National’s. If the Greens don’t make five per cent, Labour probably won’t form the government. Voters choosing between Labour and the Greens have an acute decision to make.

New Zealand First needs to get to five per cent or hold Tauranga. If it gets well above five percent, it will probably be supporting a Labour government, but only if it gets there by attracting National switchers.

Act needs to win Epsom. The Maori Party needs to win electorate seats. The higher its party vote, the less likely it is to achieve overhang, its best prospect for entering post-election bargaining.

The Progressives will hope their 1.1 per cent result in the Herald today indicates enough momentum to hold their second seat, but like the Greens they can’t afford to draw from Labour. Their tactical position is tied to Labour’s.

If the Greens, NZ First and Act are all ejected from parliament, the major party with the largest share will certainly provide the next PM.

On Saturday night, don’t expect to have a sure feel early. The issue is not so much that the polls are close, but that the outcome is so sensitive to finely balanced factors, as the rolling average poll shows.



Australia’s Centrebet has Helen Clark at $2.10 to hold her job; Don Brash at $1.65 to take it over.

(UPDATE:…. Not any more they don't – Scoop Editor)


Ours isn’t the only MMP vote this weekend this weekend. German voters are also choosing a new government [page 4].


The Reserve Bank sees no chance of interest rate cuts as oil prices spike, the local economy keeps burbling away and parties promise a good post-election blow-out. [Page 3].


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