Labour plunges in poll

07:52, Mar 18 2014

The Labour Party has recorded its worst poll result since leader David Cunliffe took charge, but he says the election is "still ours".

A Herald-Digipoll released today saw support for Labour plummet six points to 29.5 per cent. Support for Cunliffe as leader fell by almost as much, with him lagging on 11.1 per cent, compared to John Key on 66.5 per cent.

It's Key's highest rating since the last election, and his party could govern alone if the figures translated to election results.

Meanwhile it's Cunliffe's worst since he became leader, dipping below the popularity of David Shearer whom he replaced last year.

Cunliffe this morning said he wasn't "seriously" concerned.

"Sure it wasn't a great poll and it's been not the easiest couple of weeks, but in fact these things are lagged and we've already moved past the tough patch and we're back on the front foot.

"Last week you saw with [Justice Minister] Judith Collins and the National's crony capitalism, and moving forward we've opened up a debate about jobs and economic development which you'll see taken further this week," he told Breakfast.

Cunliffe said the election was "still ours".

"And it's really important to New Zealanders we're able to lead the next government, because they don't want to be living in a country that has ghettos and gated communities," he said.

"They want a country where everyone gets a fair go and that's what we stand for."

The Herald-Digipoll began surveying at the time when Cunliffe was hitting the headlines over a trust used for donations during his campaign to be elected party leader.

But the poll reported the trend continued through last week, when Justice Minister Judith Collins was given a public dressing-down by Prime Minister John Key over her private dinner in China and personal connections with Chinese-owned company Oravida.

Key, speaking in China, said: "That poll's extremely consistent with all of the other polls we've seen and our own internal polling and I think it reflects the fact that New Zealanders are feeling much more confident about the direction the country's moving in, the economy's definitely picking up, there is real progress being made by the Government.

‘‘So, from our point of view that's the message we take out of it, that New Zealanders, for the most part, are supporting us in the direction we're taking the country."

However Key said the latest polls could easily change.

"MMP's a really fickle environment. It doesn't take a lot of change in those numbers for the result to look quite different," Key said.

"If we're going to get anywhere near those numbers on election night we've got a lot of work to do."

In the latest Fairfax-Ipsos Poll, carried out just over a month ago, Labour's support had dipped slightly to 31.8 per cent. National was riding on 49.4 per cent.

The Greens, Labour's traditional support partner, managed only 10 per cent support, but in today's poll rated at 13 per cent.

NZ First dipped slightly in the Herald poll to 3.6 per cent, but leader Winston Peters closed the gap with Cunliffe in the preferred prime minister stakes, moving to 6.5 per cent.

The Herald-Digipoll canvassed 750 people between March 6-16 and had a margin of error of 3.6 per cent.

The Fairfax phone poll surveyed 1018 people from February 8-10 and had a margin of error of 3 per cent.