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National Increases Lead Over Labour

Media Release

18th July 2005

National Increases Lead Over Labour

A major opinion poll by Fairfax New Zealand /ACNielsen shows National has outstripped Labour in the lead-up to the forthcoming General Election, setting the stage for a tug-of-love over kingmaker NZ First.

The nationwide poll by showed National has leap frogged Labour in the preferred party vote, taking a five point lead with 42 per cent support to Labour's 37%. This compares with 40% for Labour and 38% for National in the first Fairfax New Zealand ACNielsen poll in June.

The poll also reveals that NZ First leader Winston Peters has some hard thinking to do with his party comfortably in third place on 8% (9%) and the majority of his voters preferring Labour to National as a coalition partner.

This poll asked respondents key political questions about party support, preferred prime minister and preferred coalition partner.

The Greens gained a point to 6%. ACT, United Future and the Maori Party are flatlining on 2% while Destiny New Zealand is steady on 1%.

While Prime Minister Helen Clark retains her clear lead as preferred Prime Minister on 39%, National's Don Brash is closing in, gaining five points to 29%. Winston Peters is the preferred leader of 7% of voters.

Respondents who said they preferred Labour, National or NZ First were also asked who they would want their party to form a coalition with.

National voters opted for NZ First (41%) or ACT (30%) but were thoroughly rejected as a marriage partner by NZ First voters whose first choice was Labour (52%) with National a distant second (29%).

The poll also asked four questions of broader topical interests: whether New Zealand should become a republic, whether the Government should ban sports teams travelling to countries that infringed human rights, whether we should adopt nuclear power and whether landowners should be forced to allow public access onto their land.

A slim majority of people, 53%, would support a law that bans sports teams touring countries that violate human rights, like Zimbabwe. Out of this group, only 69% would still do so if the taxpayer had to foot the bill for any fines or other costs incurred by the team.

Conducted in the aftermath of the London bombings and while Prince William was visiting the country, the poll shows much less support for a New Zealand republic than similar surveys in the past few years.

A quarter of respondents supported New Zealand becoming a republic while 63% were in favour of the status quo.

Despite the country's energy problems, New Zealanders gave a firm thumbs down to building a nuclear power plant here. Six out of ten were against the idea.

Public access to private land is still a contentious issue. Exactly half of respondents opposed a law that would require landowners to allow public access to lakes, rivers and the seashore on their land while 42% supported such a law. Those living in rural areas were more likely to oppose this sort of legislation.

The poll surveyed 1055 people nationwide by telephone between July 8 and July 13.

The next Fairfax New Zealand/ACNielsen poll will be carried out in August and repeat the baseline political questions on party and preferred leader while adding a new set of topical questions on broader issues.

The poll, which was launched in June, is a group initiative driven by the editors of Fairfax New Zealand's daily newspapers and will be produced every month in the run-up to the election and in the days immediately preceding it.

The group recognised the need for an authoritative poll that not only asked key political questions but shed light on other topical issues. ACNielsen is a global leader in market research and analysis, with long experience in political polling around the world.

The sample of at least 1000 respondents for each poll is large enough to give an accurate snapshot of how the voting population is thinking and drill down into trends by regional, political and gender groupings. The size means the margin of error is reduced to about 3%.


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