National surges ahead of Labour. Winston faces defeat in Tauranga and in the country. Rodney's ahead in Epsom. ACT's polling is rising. Will the Greens make it? Spirallng fuel prices must affect the economy.
Nats campaign winning
National is out-campaigning Labour. Brash is looking more Prime Ministerial and Clark more shrill. It was her luggage that delayed the plane. Cullen looked stressed in the finance debate. National's bigger than expected tax plan is winning. While the media repeated Labour's line that National's one law for all was not new as a government policy it is new. As Orewa showed the policy is very popular.
Labour's own tracking polls show they are in trouble. Commentators focus on National's lack of coalition allies but it may be Labour that is friendless. NZ First on the current trend will be out of parliament. On election day the Greens have never hit their average polling. In 2002 the Greens dropped from polling 8.1%, receiving 7% on election day. The Maori party is campaigning badly and its support is falling.
ACT is rising
In every MMP election a third party has come from nowhere in the last two weeks. In 1996 it was ACT who two weeks out was averaging 2.5% and got 6.1%. In 1999 the Greens two weeks out were 2.6% and got 5.2% and last election the worm turners rose from less than 1% to break the threshold. This election it looks as if ACT is the surprise. Rodney is going to win Epsom and that knowledge has caused ACT's support to rise.
An independent poll has Rodney Hide on 31%, Richard Worth on 30%, Stuart Nash (L) on 12%, others 2% and don't know 25%. Brash has sent a signal. National by putting Worth at number 16 on the party list, (he was number 44 in 1999 and 25 in 2002) has guaranteed his re-election to parliament allowing National voters to support Rodney. Clark twice last week said Labour voters should support Worth. The Letter while canvassing in Remuera Road on Saturday found one NZ First supporter, one wavering Worth supporter and the rest said "We've worked out how to vote."
Lost his mojo
The issue this election is not immigration but migration. Peters has always won a significant vote from Maori. However, this election the contest is between the Labour and the Maori parties. Winston has always been a spender and a major issue this election is tax cuts. Even the Police Association does not support his pledge to double Police numbers. His refusal to say whom he will support is losing him votes. At 4.6% if he says either Labour or National he is further below the threshold. If he says he wont support either he is no longer kingmaker and looks irrelevant.
Turn Out the key
What polls cannot tell is whether those polled will vote. Turn out in previous elections has been the centre right's advantage. ACT voters are the most likely to vote, (they waste nothing hence their concern over whether ACT would be a wasted vote). Green voters are the least likely to vote. 80 year olds nearly all vote, just 50% of 18 year olds vote. Labour governments are traditionally defeated because their base fails to vote. Voter turn out in all the old democracies is falling.
Centre Right will turn out
1996 saw a massive 88.28% turn out as people tried out MMP. In 1999 the Labour vote turned out and National voters stayed home. In 2002 Labour's vote fell but National's fell further. The total turn out was 76.78%. In the Ilam seat voter turn out in 1996 was 91.15%, in 2002 79.06%. This election the voter turn out will increase in the Maori seats helping Labour, but there are few Maori voters. Brash has motivated his base and the centre right will turn out in massive numbers in the general seats. The proportionality of parties is determined by the NZ wide list vote. We predict that in Labour's heartland, seats like Mangere, the voter turn out will continue to fall. (It was just 70.89% last election). In seats like Epsom where the turn out was 79.06% we expect it to be near 90%. Over the whole country an increase in turn out of centre right voters translates into big numbers. It has indirect effects. The third parties on the left who get split Labour voters have fewer votes to split. Last election National's poor turn out affected ACT's vote so the election day vote was below the pre-election opinion poll support. All pollsters adjust the poll figures they announce to try to allow for the turn out factor but it is just a guess. If the turn out on the right is much higher then all the polls have been under stating the right's support and over stating the left's vote. We think the turn out could turn out the Greens.
A real possibility
The Greens and NZ First, no MPs. United Future and the Progressives one MP each. Rodney wins Epsom and brings with him a number of MPs, (A Herald Digipoll at the weekend had ACT at 3%). The Maori party wins just 3 seats. National wins around 45%. The election would then be decided on whether ACT wins more seats than the Maori party!
Oil at $100 a barrel will slow the world economy. Ironically growth in the deep south of America will boom as insurance and Federal money pours in to rebuild. It is the rest of the world that will feel the economic shock of Hurricane Katrina especially countries like NZ. Both of the old parties' policies are predicated on a world economy that is already very different.
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Last week we asked "Will Rodney win Epsom?" 81% said yes. Let's test your skills further with two questions. "Will Peters win Tauranga?and Will NZ First pass the 5% threshold?" You picked the trend in Epsom can you do it again? Vote at www.act.org.nz/ poll.