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National Is A Step Away From The Treasury Benches

14th Sept 2005

National Is A Step Away From The Treasury Benches

Just Days Ahead Of The Election

In one of the final polls due before Saturday, the latest Fairfax New Zealand ACNielsen poll, gives National a six-point lead over Labour heading into the final three days of the campaign.

Labour has fallen four points in the poll to 37 per cent, while National is

down one point to 43%.

The big winner is New Zealand First, up three points and back above the crucial 5% threshold to 7%. The Greens are up one to 6% and United Future is up one to 3%.

ACT continues to flat-line at 1%, along with the Maori Party, Destiny New Zealand and Jim Anderton's Progressive Party.

National leader Don Brash is closing in on Labour leader Helen Clark as preferred prime minister, just six points behind Clark – 43% to 37%.

The snap poll, taken over the weekend and on Monday, is the third in the past four to show National in the lead. It appears to confirm that the party has not suffered any damage from the Exclusive Brethren leaflet scandal.

In a glimmer of hope for Labour, when those not ``definitely’’ planning a trip to the polls on Saturday were filtered out by the polling company, the gap between National and Labour closed to four points.

ACNielsen found 8.8% of voters were still undecided. Pollster Gary Martin said that while a proportion of those probably would not vote, they still had the potential to swing the election result either way.

Clark, whose day on the campaign trail was blighted by jeering Canterbury University students yesterday, said the poll showed the choice for voters was down to a Clark-led government or a Brash-led one.

``The polls are in a frenzy at the moment. We're throwing everything at it,’’ she said.

Brash's strategists, who were convinced the Brethren story would hurt National, were privately cock-a-hoop over the poll. But a spokesman said only that the poll was ``pleasing" and an indication that New Zealanders were `` focusing on the issues that matter for the future of this country’’.

The rise in NZ First's support at the expense of Labour comes as leader Winston Peters launches an all-out attack on National candidate Bob Clarkson in the Tauranga electorate.

The battle for the seat, where Peters is trailing by 12 points, has become the most bitter of the campaign.

Judging by the new poll, Peters is safe from electoral oblivion and could prop up a minority National-United Future government without the need for help from ACT.

Peters has said he will support the highest-polling party, and National would hold 53 seats under this poll, with Labour gaining 46, NZ First nine, the Greens seven, United Future four and the Maori Party and the Progressives one apiece.

AC Nielsen says National has picked up support from South Islanders, 18 to 24-year-olds and those with a household income of less than $20,000. Labour lost ground among those in smaller and rural towns, in Wellington and those aged under 39.

The poll surveyed 1085 people and has a margin of error of 3%.


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