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Swing voters likely to decide this election

Opinion Piece

Yet another shock poll result has really just confirmed the 2017 general election is a two horse-race that is too close to call.

There are anecdotal signs some of the public have become bored by the constant head-counting of the pollsters, and perhaps starting to question the results.

The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll has significantly reversed recent results, especially the Colmar Brunton-One News polls, putting National on 47.3 percent — and able to govern alone because of wasted votes for the Greens, who got 4.9 percent in this poll — almost a full 10 points ahead of Labour on 37.6.

People will take this result with a grain of salt. Radio New Zealand’s polling average has National on 41.3 percent and Labour on 40.5, which seems closer to the mood of the nation.

Also significant is a recent Bauer Media poll that indicated as many as 10 percent of voters were undecided. That matches the situation in past elections, and the swingers could be more important than ever this time.

Clearly the pollsters are also feeding different assumptions into their models — so a big unknown question is which organisations’ modelling is closest to reality.

It has been obvious since Jacinda Ardern took control of Labour that things have changed dramatically, with the party transformed overnight from moribund to a real challenger and potential government.

The “Jacinda effect” has overturned conventional wisdom that parties should not change leaders so close to an election.

But while National’s hopes the stardust would fade might be wishful, it’s possible there has been a swing back to the Tories.

For both parties it could finally come down to how effective they are at ensuring their supporters actually go to the polling booths on September 23.

Even that may not be as relevant as in past elections. Early voting figures have been high since Monday, and the Electoral Commission is predicting that 50 percent of those registered will vote before polling day.

That suggests a significant number of people have made their minds up already, and emphasises the importance of the swingers.