Despite its high-profile annual conference and Labour making a series of unforced errors over the past month, National is making little headway against Labour, according to Roy Morgan polling.
However, the polling does not capture the events of last week, notably the GST u-turn debacle.
But even so, this should have been National’s month with it enjoying a post-conference bounce while Labour struggled with the Shauma affair.
Instead, Labour is up one per cent since the July poll.
Perhaps more importantly,although National is up 0.5 per cent, it is still four per cent below its May peak, whilst Labour is up 3.5 per cent since May.
That still doesn’t put Labour ahead; National is on 35.5 per cent and Labour on 35.
Nevertheless, the overall picture since December 2020, just after the election, is that National has put on nine per cent support and Labour has lost 7.5 per cent.
Labour will be pleased with this poll.
Its period covers the Gaurav Sharman expulsion from the caucus and most of the coverage of the profligate giveaways of the cost of living payments.
National, on the other hand, began the month with its annual conference and a high-profile “get to know me” speech from its leader, Christopher Luxon.
What should worry National is that the tide against the Government is turning, but that is not being translated into support for the party.
The percentage of those polled who think the country is going in the wrong direction has been steadily rising since the end of 2020, so there has been an 11 per cent swing from right to wrong.
Overall, Labour could form a Government by including the Greens and the Maori Party, but National could do the same with ACT and the Maori Parrty.
Though neither the Maori Party nor National has ruled the other out in forming a Government, it would be highly unlikely that the two parties would find much to agree on.
Of course, New Zealand First is waiting in the wings, stuck, it seems, on 1.5 per cent, still 3.5 per cent below the MMP threshold.
Looking at the trend in the polling since May, Labour is slowly rising while National is either stalled or falling.
What must also worry National is that its natural coalition partner ACT on 15 per cent is only back where it was in February.
There was a hint of frustration with National in a statement from ACT Leader David Seymour yesterday about the Government’s u-turn on GST on managed funds.
“Enter the National Party, who could not have been more excited had they tried,” the party’s “Free Press” email to members said.
“It was Labour’s ‘day of shame,’ they screamed at the top of their lungs.
“The problem is a party on the right should be in favour of sensible changes to make taxes simpler and fairer.”
Labour, meanwhile, is planning on holding a caucus later this week, even though Parliament is in recess.
Speaking at her post Cabinet press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern dismissed the idea that there was anything unusual about holding the caucus.
“We frequently have catch-ups that are longer form than the two hours, just because the meetings that we have mid-week only lend themselves to transactional business, just checking what we’re voting on, member’s bills and so on,” she said.
That suggests that the agenda for the extra caucus will be political.
That might include a focus on how to win male voters to Labour.
Support for the Labour-Greens coalition in the Roy Morgan poll is strongest amongst older women aged 50+ at 50 per cent compared to only 41.5 per cent support for National- Act NZ. For women aged 18-49, the lead is even larger, with 49.5 per cent supporting Labour-Greens, and a gap of 16 per cent points to National/Act NZ on only 33.5 per cent.
The smallest Parliamentary Opposition, the Maori Party, is attracting most of its support from women, with 8 per cent now supporting the party set to hold the balance of power, including 12 per cent of women aged 18-49 and 4 per cent of women aged 50+.
There is a stark difference for men, with a majority of 55.5 per cent supporting National or Act NZ. In August, 52.5 per cent of men aged 18-49 supported National- Act NZ compared to 40 per cent that supported Labour- Greens.
For men aged 50+, there was an even larger gap, with 59 per cent supporting National- Act NZ compared to only 35.5 per cent supporting Labour- Greens.
The Maori Party attracts the support of only 2 per cent of men, including 3.5 per cent support from men aged 18-49, but less than 0.5 per cent support from men aged 50+.
Support for the Greens is far higher amongst both younger women and younger men than their older counterparts. Almost one-in-five women aged 18-49 (19 per cent) and one-in-ten men aged 18-49 (9.5 per cent) support the Greens compared to only 3 per cent of women aged 50+ and just 4 per cent of men aged 50+.