Heartland New Zealand continues to back National, the latest Fairfax Media-Ipsos poll reveals.
The poll has National on 46.2 per cent, Labour on 34.4, and the next closest party, the Greens, on 10.5 per cent. None of the other minor parties crossed the five per cent threshold for winning seats in Parliament.
The poll questioned 1062 voters and a breakdown of regions showed Northland, the rural belt in the middle of the North Island and also the upper South Island were where National polled strongest.
National’s support in Marlborough, Nelson, Tasman and the West Coast was around 53 per cent, compared with 31.7 per cent for Labour.
In Northland, it polled 57.3 per cent, compared with 18.4 per cent for Labour, and in rural parts of the middle of the North Island it polled at 62.6 per cent, with just 12.8 per cent for Labour.
Labour and National were closest in Auckland, the Bay of Plenty and Wellington though there was no region where Labour polled more than National.
But the poll also revealed that when asked to make trade-offs between conflicting goals, voters tended toward policies that were more in line with Labour’s current policy mix than National’s - despite the gap between the two parties.
When asked to choose whether it was more desirable for the government to make 100,000 affordable homes available, or whether the housing market should be left to its own devices, 65.1 per cent favoured the Government intervening.
Voters also rejected overseas investment as a strategy for boosting the economy and were prepared to accept more government debt as the price of protecting state-owned assets.
But when asked whether we should be doing more about climate change, most voters believed the economy was more important and we were too small to make much difference anyway.
People were also strongly opposed to the government investing more in social services, agreeing instead that there was already too much waste.
The poll continues a story of slowly improving fortunes for Labour, but National continues to poll just below the level at which it won the 2011 election.
If NZ First crosses the five per cent threshold on election night, it, or the Maori Party could hold the balance of power and decide the next government.
But Prime Minister John Key believes NZ First will back Labour - partly because the NZ First leader does not like him.
‘‘He’s not overly enamoured with me,’’ Key told Fairfax.