Reid Research: NZ Labour with massive poll lead

Eight weeks before the September 19 New Zealand election, a new poll gives Labour a 61% to 25% lead over the opposition National.

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.

There have been three leaders of the conservative National party in the last two months. On May 22, the unpopular Simon Bridges was ousted in a leadership spill, and replaced by Todd Muller. However on July 14, Muller resigned for health reasons, and was replaced by Judith Collins.

A Reid Research poll, conducted July 16-24 – after the second leadership change – gave Labour a thumping 60.9% (up 4.4% since the last Reid Research poll in early May). National was on 25.1% (down 5.5%).

New Zealand seats are allocated proportionally to parties that either win at least 5% of the national vote or a single-member seat. The Greens, with 5.7% in this poll, appear the only other party likely to clear the 5% threshold, although the right-wing ACT, with 3.3%, will also qualify if their leader holds Epsom. NZ First, which is currently a Labour coalition partner, has just 2.0%, and is unlikely to re-enter parliament.

After polls in May showed a blowout Labour lead, there was a much better poll for National in late June, when Muller was leader. That Colmar Brunton poll had Labour’s lead dropping to 50% to 38%, from 59% to 29% in May. I believe the big differences between the June Colmar Brunton poll and the July Reid Research poll are most likely caused by the coronavirus response, not by National leadership chaos.

In June, there was a mess-up in New Zealand’s quarantine system, in which two women from Britain were allowed to leave quarantine on compassionate grounds without being tested for coronavirus; they later tested positive. Alarm over this incident, which could have revived coronavirus in New Zealand, likely contributed to Labour’s poll drop.

Since this incident, quarantine has been strictly enforced. While there are 21 active coronavirus cases in New Zealand, these are returned overseas travellers, and there has been no recent news that would indicate community spread.

Globally, there have been over 16 million coronavirus cases and over 650,000 deaths. Up until a month ago, Australia looked good, but the hundreds of new cases in Victoria every day have damaged Australia. So it’s not as if New Zealanders need to look far afield to see what happens in countries that do not handle coronavirus well.

In my opinion, this election is primarily about handling of coronavirus. If there are no community transmissions in New Zealand before the September 19 election, Labour is likely to win easily. If the virus comes back, the election will likely be more competitive.

Jacinda Ardern’s performance recorded 85.3% approved of in this poll, and just 8.2% disapproved, for a net approval of +77.1. Collins was at 39.5% approve and 30.8% disapprove (net +8.7).

16 comments on “Reid Research: NZ Labour with massive poll lead”

  1. It says something about the political position of the Nationals that their leaders talk of this poll as a rogue and that their “true” level of support was in the “high 30s” while Labour was “only” around 50%. So they are claiming, best case, that Labour has a 15% lead, when it could be 35%. Devastating.

    It isn’t only the good Covid response by the government and leadership chaos. There were also scandals in between and some of the most credible National MPs (Keyes and Adams) resigning in dismay. Most of former PM John Key’s leadership team is gone now. How sad for National 🙂

    Assuming Labor wins government in its own right, or worst case a coalition with the Greens, life in office will be a lot easier if they do not have to appease Winston Peters. It will also be good for action on climate change, which Labor and the Greens support but Peters is lukewarm on.

  2. Alpha

    Peters is an opportunist that has sided with the Nationals before. Labour do not owe him a lot. There are other Maori micro-parties and Labour candidates vying for the Maori seats too. On current numbers there is no guarantee he will be in parliament.

  3. Isn’t it good to see a popular progressive female leader actually doing well in this clusterf**k of a world we live in at the moment? Ardern’s done a fantastic job and deserves another term. I hope the polls stay this way til Election Day.

  4. The last time the parties were this far apart in NZ was early in the first of John Keys’ three terms in office. Nobody recovers from a 20 point deficit in two months.

  5. An NZ writer looks at the poll. Notice their use of the word “conservative” . I guess NZ ‘conservative’ remains ye olde school conservative rather than the barbarians currently claiming such status here and elsewhere.
    Richard Shaw: Rogue poll or not, all the signs point to a tectonic shift in New Zealand politics
    ……………………………………………..But this latest poll is consistent with three others released since May (June 1, June 25 and July 15). Averaged out, these polls put support for Labour and National at 55.5 per cent and 29.1 per cent respectively.

    That is quite the gap. Assuming they are broadly accurate, what do they tell us about the state of politics in Aotearoa New Zealand?

    The centre is now centre-left

    For a start, the political centre appears to be shifting to the left. Across the past four polls, support for Labour and the Greens sits at around 62 per cent. When nearly two out of three voters in a naturally conservative nation support the centre-left, something is going on

  6. Lars Von Trier

    1. Murdoch.
    2 World political interference is higher than NZ.
    3. Murdoch.
    4. Australians are more gullible than NZ’ders ?

  7. “Isn’t it good to see a popular progressive female leader actually doing well in this clusterf**k of a world we live in at the moment? Ardern’s done a fantastic job and deserves another term. I hope the polls stay this way til Election Day.”


    Yep, agreed. She deserves another term for sure.

  8. In NZ the Greens do not make it their daily business to campaign against Labour. As a result there is no dysfunction on the left.

  9. The fact that the Greens and Labour don’t have to compete for individual constituency seats in a proportional system certainly changes the dynamic.

    Might be as well for other parties that New Zealand uses MMP: on those poll numbers, in a FPTP system with single-member electorates (which is what they used to have), the number of non-Labour MPs would probably be in single digits (and quite possibly zero).

  10. Yes the lead is “only” 21% in the Colmar Brunton poll. And Ardern is ahead of Collins by a larger margin. That is still one=party rule territory.

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