Auckland changing from blue to Brown

16:00, Sep 25 2010
brown
Len Brown

A POLITICAL expert is warning the National Party that a Len Brown mayoralty win in Auckland could signal a possible change in government.

In the race for the super city job, the Labour-aligned Manukau mayor is leading Auckland mayor and former National cabinet minister John Banks, according to a Horizon Research poll.

Wellington political commentator Jon Johansson said that if the figures reflected the result, Prime Minister John Key should be worried, because an Auckland swing away from National could have implications for next year's general election.

banks
John Banks

Auckland voters deserted Labour in droves in 2008, a decisive factor in Key's win that year.

Horizon's poll of 570 voters that who had already returned their papers showed Brown on 49% support and Banks on 23%. Newcomer Colin Craig was on 12%, and no other candidate made an impression.

Brown was also ahead among those yet to vote, with 36% likely to back him, against 22% for Banks. Only 20% of those polled who intended to vote were undecided – but when pushed, just over half favoured Banks over Brown.

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Horizon Research manager Grant McInman said Brown had led all the company's surveys since the end of August.

"People seem to feel more comfortable with him than Banks."

He said the gap was getting too big for Banks to catch up, based on how many votes had been cast, how many were indicating they would vote and their preferences, and the undecided.

"Assuming voters don't get bored and can't be bothered, it looks like Brown."

And a Sunday Star-Times survey of 422 voters showed 36% thought Brown was more credible than Banks (31%), Brown was more likely to build bridges with groups in Auckland and more likely to be able to work with councillors. Banks was seen as having more business acumen.

Johansson said the public needed to be "a wee bit circumspect" because there were still so many votes to be returned, but he felt Brown's TV ads had been effective.

About 106,000 papers (11% of all eligible votes) have been returned. Based on the 2007 turnout, that is about a third of the total. Voting closes at noon on October 9.

Sunday Star Times