New Zealand Labour surges into high 50s in polls

Four months before the September 19 election, Labour takes a huge lead over National owing to Jacinda Ardern’s coronavirus response.  Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

New Zealand has relatively few polls compared to other countries. Before this week, the last polls had been conducted in January to early February, well before the coronavirus crisis began. Those polls had the governing Labour party one to five points behind the opposition National.

What a difference the handling of the coronavirus crisis has made! In two polls conducted in early to mid-May, Labour had 56.5% in a Reid Research poll and 59% in a Colmar Brunton poll, while National was respectively at 30.6% and 29%. Since the previous iterations of these polls, Labour is up 18 points in Colmar Brunton and up 14 in Reid Research, while National is down 17 and down 13.

While other countries have struggled with coronavirus, New Zealand is close to eliminating it. The strict lockdown imposed on March 26 appears to have worked, with very few cases recorded since the end of April. There are currently 1,504 total cases, 21 deaths and 1,455 recoveries in New Zealand. Subtracting deaths and recoveries from total cases gives just 28 active cases. Australia has also been successful, but has 516 active cases on just over five times New Zealand’s population.

As a result of New Zealand’s success in handling coronavirus, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s net approval has rocketed to +76 from +33 in October 2019 in the Colmar Brunton poll.  86% approve and just 10% disapprove, figures comparable to Western Australian and Tasmanian Premiers Mark McGowan and Peter Gutwein in the recent premiers’ Newspoll.  Opposition Leader Simon Bridges slumped to a net -40 net approval from -22 last October.

Bridges is no longer the opposition leader. After these dire poll results, he was rolled in a party room spill on Friday, and replaced as National leader by Todd Muller. Numbers in the spill have not been released.

While Labour has a huge lead now, there are four months to go until the September 19 election. Elections are not decided by gratitude, as Winston Churchill can attest to after being thumped in the 1945 UK election. However, there are likely to be reminders from other countries regarding the dire effects of coronavirus. In addition, if the virus is indeed eliminated in New Zealand, the economy should start doing much better than the economies of coronavirus-hit countries.

Under New Zealand’s Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system, parties qualify for the proportional allocation of seats if they either win at least 5% of the overall vote, or win a single-member seat. Since 2017, Labour has governed with the support of the Greens and the populist NZ First. NZ First is below 5% in the polls and the Greens are at about 5%. It’s plausible that neither party re-enters parliament, and that almost all seats go to either Labour or National.

16 comments on “New Zealand Labour surges into high 50s in polls”

  1. Just imagine if there were no foreign media tycoon influencing Australia’s political system , the current libs/nats would still be in opposition ,since 2007

  2. The last time an Australian Federal leader got a popularity figure this high, they were still being chosen on the basis of competence.

  3. It shows you how much Scrott is under achieving when it comes to the traditional big boost a crisis usually gives a leader.

  4. I got the impression (admittedly from one article) that Bridges went the whiny baby method of being Leader of the Opposition in a crisis (much like the Victorian Libs). It appears to have achieved deserved results.

  5. From comments I have read by NZrs, most are rightly proud of their achievement, and proud of their PM.
    When they wonder about alternatives they just look across the ditch.
    FWIW, That Premiers Newspoll was a month ago.
    It would be very interesting to see how those figures have changed.
    From the panic in Dutton and Hanson, I’d say Anastasia’s ratings have improved, and Gladys is with Scotty on the way down.

  6. This seems to vindicate the Australian opposition’s more conciliatory approach during the outbreak. In Aus there’s been a big jump in the PM’s approval rating, but not much of a shift in voting intention. In NZ, the opposition tried to pick fights with the government during a crisis and voters punished them for it.

  7. Tim
    I am a New Zealander and , like most of us, a great fan of our PM. Not everyone is, and there is much whine, bitch and moan from some commentators, such as Mike Hosking, a right wing egotistical maker of loud noises. It is said that he and Simon Bridges, ex Nats leader, once saw Jacinda walking across the Auckland Harbour. They turned to each other and said,” Bloody Jacinda, can’t even bloody swim!”

  8. So the wash up from yesterday’s bombshell if the radio/tv news is anything to go by;
    1. someone made a wrong calculation
    2. Joshy saved the taxpayers 6obn
    3. job well done

  9. Maude Lynne:

    [‘From the panic in Dutton and Hanson, I’d say Anastasia’s ratings have improved, and Gladys is with Scotty on the way down.’]

    I’m in fulsome agreement. Dutton’s going against the grain, attempting to portray Palaszczuk as an ogre. He thinks his re-election in Dickson was awsome, whereas it was predicated on the misplaced “Get Up ” campaign. What you see with this young man is what you get: an authoritarian, who will eventually be relegated to the station in life he deserving of. He’s a nasty piece of work – that’s the very best that can be said of him.

  10. That commentary on the Colmar Brunton report was a bit contradictory. There was 16% undecided which they excluded for the seat calculation. But they discount The Greens as under 5% while not discounting the 16%.
    It they allocate seat predictions like that, the proportion of the seats should include the Greens. As 4.7% of 84% is 5.6% of the vote.
    And because of the parties below the hurdle should be a higher proportion than that of the seats, maybe about 8 seats.

  11. mundo:
    “So the wash up from yesterday’s bombshell if the radio/tv news is anything to go by;
    1. someone made a wrong calculation
    2. Joshy saved the taxpayers 6obn
    3. job well done”

    But in reality:

    1. Government incompetent.
    2. Joshy doesn’t even know how to count.
    3. Both Joshy and ScuMo should resign.

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