Two weeks out from the election National’s popularity has soared after the dumping of justice minister Judith Collins, putting John Key on course for a thumping victory on the evidence of a new Stuff.co.nz/Ipsos poll.
The survey, taken over the five days starting with Collins’ resignation on Saturday, saw National surge to 54.2 per cent, up 3.4, while Labour fell.
If that level of support was mirrored on election day it would give National a 15-seat majority over all the other parties combined, even before taking into account support parties like ACT and UnitedFuture.
The furore over Nick Hager’s book Dirty Politics, and the drip feed of hacked emails between key players on the Right, seems to have damaged Labour despite Key’s hand being forced over Collins.
Its support slipped 1.8 to 24.3 per cent and it will be concerned mixed messages from leader David Cunliffe over the last few days, when he has struggled to explain the detail of his planned capital gains tax, will have harmed it further.
Likely coalition partner the Green Party rose 1.1 percentage points to 12.9, but along with National was the only party to gain ground since the last Stuff-Ipsos poll in August.
The poll seems to confirm Key’s confidence that the dirty politics saga has not harmed National.
It seems to have vacuumed up support from the minor players, leaving NZ First and the Conservatives well short of the 5 per cent MMP threshold – a result that contradicts other recent polls that have shown the two parties above or close to the threshold.
ACT, the Maori Party and Internet-Mana all dived, leaving the Kim Dotcom-funded party with enough support for just two MPs if Hone Harawira holds his Te Tai Tokerau seat.
Assuming all the small parties hold their current seats, but independent Brendan Horan is not returned, National would have a dominant 70 seat bloc in a 125 seat Parliament.
Ipsos pollster Matt Benson said the poll followed the first televised leaders’ debate and straddled the resignation of Collins. ‘‘Despite a difficult week for National the poll shows support rise for the National Party, and John Key as preferred PM has also increased to 51.7 percent.’’
He said the rise may have been caused by wavering voters, uncomfortable with Collins, swinging in behind Key for finally taking action against her.
Labour support had declined slightly but Cunliffe was holding at 15.8 per cent as preferred prime minister, Benson said. However, the results were within the margin of error.
There was no significant movement among minor parties, he said.
The undecided vote remained steady at 13 per cent, which is higher than in some other polls.
Benson said if Ipsos included those who said they were undecided, but when pressed were leaning towards a particular party, that number dropped to about 7 per cent and saw National’s vote come in about 2 percentage points lower.
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