‘I don’t believe it’: Shock poll rocks NZ
With the New Zealand election just 54 days away, a shock poll has shown Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's Labour Party surging to an unprecedented level of support.
According to the Newshub-Reid Research poll, Labour is at an eye-watering 61 per cent, with the country's main opposition party, National, at just 25 per cent. The Greens have 5.7 per cent, and every other minor party is in the low single digits.
If the poll were replicated at the election on September 19, Labour would end up with 77 MPs, easily enough to govern without a coalition partner.
That practically never happens under New Zealand's "mixed member proportional" (MMP) electoral system. No party has ever won more than the 60 seats claimed by National in 2014, when it was led by John Key.
Things aren't going so well for the centre-right party anymore.
National ditched its leader, Simon Bridges, back in May because the Newshub-Reid Research survey showed its support at 30 per cent - five points higher than it is today.
Since then, the party has been in near-constant chaos.
The man who replaced Mr Bridges, Todd Muller, lasted 53 days before he suddenly quit, saying the job had taken a "heavy toll" on him and had become "untenable from a health perspective".
Earlier this month, the leadership passed to veteran MP Judith Collins, a former justice and police minister.
Meanwhile, multiple senior MPs announced they were leaving politics at the election, perhaps sensing a looming defeat.
"The National Party is in full-blown self-destruct mode," Newshub's political editor Tova O'Brien said today.
"Ms Ardern looks untouchable, thanks in large part to National's dysfunction and dismay."
Ms Collins has dismissed the poll, saying National's internal data is much more positive.
"I don't believe it at all. I think it's entirely out of kilter; it's absolutely opposite to what we're hearing in the electorates," she said.
"The poll itself doesn't go anywhere near where our polling is. The polling itself is clearly wrong."
Her deputy leader, Gerry Brownlee, questioned the methodology used by Reid Research.
"When they applied that methodology, you're going through selecting people who meet certain criteria that you want to have inside your polls - age groups and diversity - but that doesn't mean you are always getting a truly random sample of what people are thinking, politically," Mr Brownlee told Morning Report.
"This is drastic and inconsistent with our own polling."
According to O'Brien, however, Ms Collins' initial reaction to the poll was very different.
"They know that this poll is the most accurate poll. It was at the last election," O'Brien said.
"When I first spoke to (Ms Collins) and gave her those numbers she said, 'That's disappointing, we need to do better.' In the morning when she got the numbers, she was telling quite a different story."
Ms Ardern, for her part, is approaching the situation with cautious optimism.
"Whether they're high, whether they're low, I always keep a healthy scepticism around polls, generally. I do keep an eye on trends though," the Prime Minister told The AM Show today.
"I'd like to think the trend, or at least what message we can take from this, is general support for the government's COVID recovery and response plan.
"But I'm never, ever complacent, and nor is the Labour Party. This is a really crucial time for New Zealand. We need to keep demonstrating that we're focused, and we'll be doing that every day of the election."
Host Duncan Garner asked Ms Ardern whether Labour would seek to govern alone, should it win an outright majority of seats.
"It's just not something that I think would be wise for any party to ever bank on," Ms Ardern said.
"This is MMP, and we have had consistent results on election day that produce MMP governments. So as I say, I'm not complacent. I think complacency would mean sitting there and planning for that sort of outcome, and that's not where my head is at."
Garner spent a few minutes trying, without success, to get Ms Ardern to reveal which minor party she would prefer as a coalition partner. Then he unleashed this quip.
"Speaking of minor parties, would you consider, say, National as a coalition partner?" he asked.
"Oh, the grand coalition!" Ms Ardern said.
"No. I think it's fair to say there are some very divergent views between National and Labour. Nor would I see any reason to do that."
In his editorial today, Garner said "even Labour" would struggle to believe the poll, but clearly National was paying a price for "speed dating through three leaders in as many months".
"I'm so confident Labour won't poll this high on the night, or even high enough to govern alone, that if I'm wrong - and if either happens - I promise to become a vegan for a year," Garner said.
"Collins should be happy the tide can't go out much further and her job is to return National to some respectability."
Meanwhile, Newstalk ZB host Mike Hosking told his audience the numbers were "not real, or close to real".
"Here's the deal with polls. Don't take them seriously. And certainly don't take them seriously at a time like this. Given what the world is going through, the numbers could be anything, and it is only on the day that we will really know," said Hosking.
He pointed to a recent Stuff/Massey University survey, which showed the switch from Mr Muller to Ms Collins pushing National's support up to 40 per cent.
"Believe me, this will be way closer than certainly last night's numbers show," he said.
"Never before have polls been less real, less relevant, or less accurate. Right now a dartboard would work just as well."
Originally published as 'I don't believe it': Shock poll rocks NZ