Poll shows Labour under pressure to make impact

TRACY WATKINS
Last updated 05:00 15/02/2014

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Fairfax-Ipsos poll

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OPINION: In politics, what goes up must inevitably come down - or at least that was the conventional wisdom before John Key.

Today's Fairfax Media-Ipsos poll continues National's gravity-defying run in the polls, putting it at a staggering 49.4 per cent to Labour's 31.8 per cent.

See the poll here

Labour will spend the weekend licking its wounds. With an election now just months away - most are betting on late September or early October - the party is squeezed for time to turn things around.

David Cunliffe launched the year with a $60-a-week promise to mums and dads, an attention-grabber that was also supposed to help frame the election-year debate around Labour's themes of inequality, and haves and have-nots.

But although the policy has grabbed attention, it does not yet seem to have got much traction.

That may be explained by the other findings in our poll.

The first is the overwhelming belief among voters that the country is on the right track, with 63.7 per cent agreeing, compared with just 35.6 per cent who disagree. Labour clearly still has its work cut out winning the argument that a change of government won't put that at risk. Even Labour voters are more confident about the direction the country is headed.

That has had a flow-on effect on the Government's approval rating, which is the highest since we started asking a year ago. Even the mood for change has ebbed for the first time since we started asking that question.

Considered by pollsters to be a leading indicator when it comes to predicting a change of government, the mood for change often picks up on the little niggles - such as lightbulbs or smacking - that ultimately lead to a government's downfall down the track.

In short, the Government is riding a wave of optimism that may be even more potent for having come off the back of five years of economic gloom.

Today's result, even though it suggests National would have enough seats to govern alone, doesn't yet mean that the next election won't be a cliffhanger. There have already been enough twists and turns in the political year to suggest it will be a roller-coaster.

But it underscores the size of the task ahead of the Labour leader. His one consolation this weekend, however, will be that at least the buffer of the Greens keeps him in the race.

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- The Dominion Post

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