Stuff poll of polls: Election result too close to call
Winston Peters and NZ First will decide the make-up of the next Government, if the final Stuff Poll of Polls is accurate.
After incorporating the final Newshub Poll, the poll of polls has National on 44 per cent, Labour on 38 per cent, Greens on 8 per cent and NZ First on 6 per cent.
ACT and the Māori Party should both win one candidate seat, but neither would have enough party votes to bring any extra MPs with them on these numbers.
The Māori Party are close to the 1.3 per cent required for an extra seat, but if the poll of polls numbers are exactly right, seats in the house would look like this: National 54, Labour 46, Greens 10, NZ First 7, Māori Party 1, ACT 1.
With 61 seats needed for a majority in a 120-seat Parliament, National would be five seats short of governing with current support partners ACT and the Māori Party.
Meanwhile the Labour-Green bloc would be four seats short. And even if the Māori Party threw their support behind this grouping (which is a strong possibility) they would still be three seats short.
Which just leaves NZ First and their seven seats holding the balance of power.
But it wouldn't need the poll of polls to be out by too much for some very different post-election scenarios to arise.
NATIONAL BETTERS ITS POLLING
If National wins 47-48 per cent of support they might be able to scrape over the line with the support of ACT and the Māori Party - this is unlikely, but remains a possibility.
In each of the last major TV polls National was on 46 per cent - a point or two higher and they could govern again without NZ First.
NATIONAL DOES WORSE THAN ITS POLLING
In this scenario National falls a few points into the very low 40s. If they don't have enough support to govern even with the backing of Peters, then a Labour-led Government will be a certainty.
LABOUR AND THE GREENS MUSTER 50 PER CENT
This is basically the same as the scenario above. A National slip into the low-40s would probably also precipitate a Labour rise to a similar number.
If the Green vote held up around the 8 per cent and NZ First stayed at 6 per cent, Labour's only option might be to form a Government with the Greens.
NZ FIRST DOESN'T MAKE FIVE PER CENT AND PETERS LOSES NORTHLAND
NZ First are looking a little precarious at 6 per cent in the poll of polls. They tend to out-perform their polling, but if they did slip below 5 per cent, the election would likely come down to a first-past-the-post-style race between National (plus ACT's one seat) and Labour-Greens.
In the event the these two have a very similar share of the remaining vote, the Māori Party could be kingmaker.
GREEN PARTY DOESN'T MAKE FIVE PER CENT
With no viable electorate candidate, the Greens are reliant on crossing the five per cent threshold to return to Parliament.
They look pretty comfortable at about eight per cent in the poll of polls, but unlike NZ First they tend to do a little worse than polls suggest on election day.
If they did slip below five per cent, it would probably be because a lot of their support has leaked to Labour, so we'd expect Labour to be close to National.
In this scenario we are back where we started with NZ First choosing between a Labour or National-led Government.
WHAT THE POLL OF POLLS SAID IN THE PAST
Projecting the poll of polls backwards, we can see that it has been close to actual result for each of the last three elections - not that that is any guarantee it will be close again.
Instead, it's interesting that despite being close to the actual result, there is generally a point or two (up to four in the case of National in 2011) of variation.
In a close election a small error could have a big impact on the outcome.
* Stuff will have live coverage of the results from 7pm Saturday.
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