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Bridges secure as leader for now

Opinion Piece

Widely divergent polls at a key stage in the political cycle have many pundits and party supporters scratching their heads.

The latest iterations of the country’s two key public polling records were both released on Sunday night, flowing from the desire to track what impact the Government’s second Budget, midway through its term, might have had. The answer? Well, two very different answers.

Going by the Newshub-Reid Research poll the Budget was a triumph and National leader Simon Bridge should pack up his office.

Its last poll in February had National sliding 3.5 points to its worst result in over a decade, 41.6 percent; the latest poll has that rout continuing, with the Nats tumbling a further 4.2 points to a record low 37.4 percent.

Across the aisle, Labour was up 3.3 points and potentially able to govern alone — for the first time ever in this poll — on 50.8 percent.

Over on One News, the Colmar Brunton poll was being announced. The verdict? A thumbs down for Labour’s Budget, and National regaining its mojo. Bridges’ leadership seems secure, apart from the nagging issue of Judith Collins polling higher for preferred prime minister (in both polls — 6 percent vs 5 percent Colmar, 7.1 percent vs 4.2 percent Reid Research).

Back on April 1 Colmar’s most recent poll had a similar result to Reid’s announced seven weeks earlier, with Labour on 48 and National on 40; its latest poll had National up 4 to 44 percent, and Labour down 6 to 42 percent.

The chasm between the latest polls is outside their 3.1 percent margin of error, so something appears to be wrong with one or both of their methods. Following major polling misses for Brexit, the 2016 US election and the recent Australian election, there is also a question mark over the answers people might give a pollster compared to what they do in private for the ballot box.

Parties don’t mention their own polling data unless they see a big advantage, and it is National this time that says Colmar Brunton’s result is most similar to its own. That will keep the imminent leadership coup Newshub is suggesting well at bay, for now.