Voters confident of NZ's direction

MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 05:00 20/06/2014

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Just three months out from the election almost two-thirds of voters believe the country is heading in the right direction, while National continues to earn plaudits for its stewardship.

But almost half the country still wants a change of government, despite National's stellar poll ratings and declining support for Labour.

Asked if it was time for a change of government, 43.8 per cent of respondents in our latest Stuff.co.nz/Ipsos poll said it was, with 48 per cent saying no.

Just over 8 per cent were undecided, up from 4.7 per cent at the start of the year.

Click here to view poll graphics.

However, National's support leapt 8.9 points to 56.5 per cent - and 63.1 per cent said they believed New Zealand was heading in the right direction.

The news is a mixed bag for the struggling Labour Party, which has slumped to just over 23 per cent, and as its leader David Cunliffe faces allegations of misleading the public, with questions hanging over his leadership.

Labour's potential allies are also struggling to gain traction, with the Greens down slightly to 11.9 per cent, NZ First on 3.2 per cent and Internet-Mana on 2.1 per cent.

Labour MPs maintain there is a mood for change and while the poll shows some evidence of that, the sentiment has ebbed since October when 49 per cent wanted a change of government.

Massey University associate professor of political science Grant Duncan said the results suggested a grudging acceptance from some Left-wing voters that National was doing a reasonable job.

"There's a kind of silent resentment amongst a lot of voters who really don't like conservative governments, but they know that actually this government is performing and they kind of resent that fact so they aren't quite willing to say 'yeah, I want a change'. But they don't quite want to say 'I'm happy with the government we've got' either.

"It's easy to find people who don't like the National-led Government at the moment but I don't get the . . . sense of anger in the community that I did in Helen Clark's last term . . . when nasty feelings were being aroused about the incumbent government."

Those people saw the Opposition as "a little bit too divided and motley . . . and I think David Cunliffe has not done Labour any favours in the last couple of days".

In terms of National's performance, almost a quarter of voters (24 per cent) rated the party between eight and 10 out of 10, compared with just 12.6 per cent in February last year.

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Those completely unimpressed, giving National two or less, stayed relatively consistent at 9.4 per cent, compared with 11.4 in February 2013.

Sixty three per cent believe the country is on the right track, consistent with previous polls this year, and compared with 58.3 per cent in August last year, and an almost even split in July 2012.

A total of 35.4 per cent believed the country was on the wrong track, compared with 41.7 per cent in August. The poll surveyed 1014 people between June 14 and 17. It has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent.

- Stuff

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