Political polling

1News Poll Prediction - 31 August 2017

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As is the fashion, I've done a quick guess at how I think tonight's 1News poll will land before the leaders' debate. It's an interesting one as I think Labour's rise will continue, but have tapered off and they won't quite be at 40% yet. National will be down slightly, the Greens will have recovered somewhat, while the Māori Party and ACT sit pretty much at the same level.

I did toy with taking a point off each of National, Labour, and either NZ First or the Greens and giving The Opportunities Party 3%, but I'd like to think that Gareth Morgan's continued verbal and Twitter diarrhoea has driven what little support he had away from the party.

Where it does become interesting is that Labour could form a minority government with NZ First and the Māori Party, relying on confidence and supply from the Greens. This would remove a major impediment to NZ First's negotiations with Labour, and I suspect Peters could work with the Māori Party better than he could the Greens. The Greens are almost certainly going to support this arrangement too as they'd rather have a Labour Government to barter with than a National one.

In theory National could form a government with the Greens, Māori Party, and ACT, but given the ideological differences between National and the Greens (and it does go both ways, not just the Greens), this is extremely unlikely to happen.

The real loser in this is ACT, who in any negotiation between National and NZ First is likely to be cast aside.

Labour and Jacinda surge in the polls

What an incredible two weeks in politics it's been! Andrew Little gone as Labour leader, Meteria Turei resigning as Green co-leader, and now polls from Newshub and a leaked UMR poll that show Labour has surged in the polls, and Jacinda Ardern has rocketed right up to be level pegging with Bill English in the preferred Prime Minister stakes.

Obviously Jacinda Ardern has been not just a circuit breaker, but a game-changer for Labour. Her ascension has hit the Greens at the same time that Meteria Turei's leadership was being called into question, and appears to have been a double blow that has caused the Green Party to shed support. At the same time, on the surface of it, it looks like New Zealand First has lost support to Labour too, with National only down 0.8 points in the Newshub poll.

At first glance I, along with many others, assumed that it was Jacinda Ardern taking votes off the Greens and New Zealand First. But the more I've thought about it, I'm not entirely sure that's the case. I can see why Jacinda would reclaim support from the Greens where she'd get back some of the former Labour supporters that Andrew Little had lost to them, but I'm still not quite sure why as much of New Zealand First's support would go her way as initially appears to be the case.

What I've since released is that there's another possibility, that it might be more likely that there's been a significant number of undecided voters in these polls who have come off the fence in support of Jacinda. My understanding is that these polls usually just report on decided voters, leaving undecideds out of the final numbers presented (though I'm not 100 per cent sure this is the case). What might be motivating the movement of these undecideds is that they perceive Jacinda as having the ability to not just to be a very capable leader, but also to transform Labour into a party they can support. They identify with her values, her identity, and her brand, in a way that they just couldn't with Andrew Little. 

I've arrived at this conclusion mainly because I can see there being two logical places for Jacinda to get already committed voters from - the Greens and National. The Green voters she'd get back are the disenfranchised Labour supporters who didn't rate Andrew Little, the National voters she'd win are those in the centre ground who turned out to vote for Helen Clark in 1999, 2002, and to a lesser extent in 2005, and who I think Jacinda has a very strong appeal to.

Given that National and Bill English's support hasn't budged much in either of the polls I linked to in the first paragraph, I think New Zealand First might be leaking its support to National. What I think is happening here is that conservatives who have gravitated to Winston Peters over the past year and returning "home" to National in the face of Labour's recovery. Jacinda, meanwhile is broadening Labour's support both at the expense of the Greens and National's centre-block, and bringing in those undecideds I already mentioned, so National's loss of support to Labour is masked to some extent by gaining back voters from New Zealand First.

At this stage it's all instinctual guesswork on my part, but I've asked Newshub's Political Editor Patrick Gower if he can shed any light on the matter, as Newshub's polling data bank doesn't reveal what the undecideds were in each poll. We'll wait to see if more details come out in the coming days.