More bad news for Labour

I don’t want to gloat too much on Labours poor polling, but things really are starting to look bleak for the Government. Another poll has come out, this time from Roy Morgan. This poll can be trusted more than others, as it does not have a pro-National bias (Colmar-brunton a prime example of this, AC Nielson can be suspected), and they together with TV3 were very accurate in getting the last election right. The latest figures give a Parliament of (asuming, as always no general electorate seats change hands and all Maori seats go to the Maori Party):
National 63 seats (enough to govern alone)
Labour 40 seats (down 10, the vote being lowered to 32% not a good sign)
Greens 9 seats (support starting to pick up)
Maori Party 7 seats (3 overhang)
ACT (2 seats, 1.5% same as last election)
United Future and Progressives (1 each, in both cases lucky to avoid overhang)

When the figures are redone to give NZ First an electorate seat (presumably Tauranga) and its 4% comes into play, the new seat totals are:
National 61, Labour 38, Greens 8, Maori party 7, NZ First 5, same for all others.

These tests are done on the asumption that no electorate seqats change hands. But there is a massive 20% swing (nationwide) from Labour to national since the last election (under this poll), so instead of Labour being 2 points ahead of National (as in 2005 election), National is 18 points clear of Labour. If the electorate vote is similar to the party vote (which it usually is) this will result in a massacre of Labour MPs. Being conservative, and asuming there is a 15% swing between the two parties electorate vote, in favour of National, will see the following seats change hands (according to David Farrars electoral pendulum):
Taupo (good to see the author of the EFA going, with his demotion from cabinet, he may not even be back on the list)
Rotorua (this seat and Taupo already have paper National majorities, so Chadwick should have a very tough job swiming against the tide)
Otaki (as Hughes and Guy will be high on their list, no real consequences)
Hamilton West (a tradtional swing seat should swing to National with the country)
West-Coast Tasman (like with Otaki, the lists make this race irrelavent)
Palmerston North (Steve Maharey’s retirement makes this seat vulnerable)
Auckland Central (byebye Judith Tizard, helo Nikki Kaye)
New Plymouth (if this seat falls with the rest, Labour will hold no provincial electorates. But this seat will be tough for National to crack)

All these seats shoul fall to National this election. The first five are pratically guarenteed a National win, as all would fall under a modest 5% swing. Palmerston North and Auckland Central are tougher targets, but Steve Maharey’s retirement gives National’s Malcolm Plimmer a real chance in this traditional Labour seat. Judith Tizard has a reputation of not doing much (I don’t know how fair this reputation is), and her seat is Labour’s most vulnerable in Auckland. National has an attractive candidate in Nikki Kaye, but again Labour benefits from the Tizard name. New Plymouth would fall on paper under a 14.8% swing, but Duynhoven is popular in his elelctorate, and has the incumbency advantage, so I have doubts about this seat falling.

There are two other electorate seats which might change hands. Wellington central was widely predicted to be a close race between Mark Blumsky (a popular former mayor) and Marion Hobbs, but instead turned out to be one of the few seats where Labour increased its lead over National from 2005. This was largely because the expectations of a tight race drew many Green voters (who had given their electorate vote to Kedgley in 2002) to give their electorate vote to Hobbs (a similar trend occured with Franks electorate vote being decimated, much of it presumably going to Blumsky). This time, with no predictions of a close race, the Green votes might go back to Kedgley, and Marion Hobbs retirement looses her personal vote and incumbency advantage. This might, again a big might, enable Stephen Franks to pull off a big upset. But I won’t bet on it.

Another interesting seat will be Maungakiekie. National won this seat in 1996, showing it can vote National. It has gone with Labour since then, but mark Goesche is retiring, loosing him his personal vote and incumbency advantage. And the new National Party candidate, Sam Lotu-Liga, a Samoan Auckland City Coucil member, will be a far better candidate than Paul Goldsmith was in 2005 (and Sam’s Samoan background should help him tap into the ethnic minority vote). National also polls better than in the rest of the country. Still, a 22.2% swing is needed, and this will be a marathon obstacle. Carol Beaumont (Labour) is a more likely winner. I will be surprised if any other seats change hands. National’s electorate vote held up in 2002, even when its party vote collapsed, as those who had left National to NZ First and United Future in 2002 stayed loyal with their electorate votes. Expect the same with Labour this election.

The other general seat which might change hands is Tauranga. Bob Clarkson won this seat in 2005, by a slender 730 vote majority over you know who. But Bob Clarkson was popular in Tauranga, as he had donated much of his money on a new stadium, and other community projects. And Don Brash’s “one law for all” slogan may have grabbed some redneck votes of Peters. This year, Bob Clarkson is retiring, loosing him his personal vote. He is going to replaced by Simon Bridges, a 30 year old high profile lawyer, who may not be too widely known in Tauranga (certainly not the same name recognition as Peters), and Peters has indicated he is eyeing the seat back since he included a no tolls on the Tauranga harbour bridge as part of his 2005 deal with Labour. Still once out, harder to get back in. And this applies even more to minor party leaders. So I won’t be the least bit surprised if, even by the narrowest of margins Bridges wins this seat (whether NZ First gets 5% is another story).

Even here the news is bad for Labour. Nothing would destroy Labour’s chances of staying in power more than Winston Peters getting Tauranga or 5%. At the moment Labour has the slim (although now vey slim) chance of retaining power in a coalition or other arangement with the Greens and Maori Party (the latter having the advantage of the overhang). Bringing NZ First into play, while it would make things a lot more difficult for National, would end this hope. I can not see Winston prefering a five party unstable hodge podge of Labour, Progressives, Greens and NZ First, over a straight National-NZ First coailiton. And even if NZ First doesn’t play ball, the Maori Party might.

Either way, things aren’t looking good for Labour.

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One Comment on “More bad news for Labour”

  1. Wellington’s politically alert voters are aware of the advantages of having an advocate inside the tent. Intelligent defense of the public service, and of sensible strategies to improve its efficiency could make a big difference to Wellington over the next three years.
    John Key has been adamant that he is not planning cuts. But I’ll want to keep a careful eye on attrition strategies. There are damaging and non-damaging ways to stop the growth of public spending. In the past, edicts have left departments without movement at the top, and cosmetic policies without regard to job satisfaction and merit. I’ll want to be there to speak out for continuing flexibility.
    And Wellingtonians have good choices. Left wing party votes can keep Sue Kedgley as a strong Wellington presence. Electing me they can also avoid the disadvantage of having no MP strongly on the state employees’ side within the government.

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