Sixty-five seats is not bulletproof
Both One News and 3 News released political polls last night. They were both done in the week after the Budget, and their results are almost identical, so we can have a high degree of confidence in them. A Digipoll for the NZ Herald was also in the same ballpark, again increasing the probability that these polls are an accurate reflection of current voting intentions.
The graph shows likely seats in Parliament based on the two TV polls. National is sitting comfortably on 65 seats, and will be pretty pleased to still be polling so highly immediately after a tough budget.
However, it is worth stressing that a projected 65 seats is not bulletproof. The House is forecast to have 123 MPs, so you will need 62 to govern. On the plus side ACT and United Future look like they can deliver a further four seats. On the negative side, there is the possibility NZ First makes 5%.
It is also likely that National will see some loss of support during the election campaign proper. So while National is in a good position, no one should think the outcome of the election is settled. As former British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan once quipped "Events dear boy, events" can blow a Government off course. Mind you the Government probably feels it has had plenty of events anyway - the global credit crisis, a global recession, finance company collapses, two major earthquakes plus the Pike River tragedy.
Labour will be pleased these polls have them higher, than the pre-Budget polls. Even if Labour do not win the election, they need as good a result as possible to position themselves for 2014. If they get 41 seats they keep all their existing MPs, get three new electorate MPs and three new list MPs. But if their vote drops to high 20s, then they lose three existing MPs and their only new list MP is Andrew Little (assuming no new electorates are won).
The Greens will be a bit disappointed to be at under 7% in these polls, after Roy Morgan had them at 10%. Roy Morgan tends to record higher levels of support for the Greens that the other polling companies. On the current polls, the Greens would lose one seat, and would be joined by only Eugenie Sage. If Labour support does collapse in the campaign (as National did in 2002) then the Greens are most likely to benefit.
Finally we have the Maori and Mana parties. At this stage the Mana Party is picking up some support, but not enough to give them a second MP. However they are not even formally registered yet, and Hone is yet to win the by-election. If he loses that, it is all over before it starts. The Maori Party has lost some support, but their vote has not collapsed. What will be of more interest to them is the electorate vote in the seven Maori seats.
The next poll to be released is likely to be a Roy Morgan poll, covering the fortnight up until yesterday.
- David Farrar is affiliated to the National Party and is a centre right blogger.