Labour's support has jumped under new leader David
Cunliffe to the extent that he could form a coalition
government and become Prime Minister, if today's
Herald-DigiPoll survey figures were translated to an election
It is the first political poll conducted entirely since he
The poll also shows a marked dive in the popularity of John
Key, to the lowest level since he became Prime Minister.
Labour has gained 6.8 points to 37.7 per cent of decided
voters which would give it 48 seats.
With the Greens' 14 seats and the Mana Party's one seat, it
would be able to form a government of 63 seats in a
Parliament of 124 seats.
Polling began two days after Mr Cunliffe won the leadership
contest against Grant Robertson and Shane Jones.
From the moment David Shearer resigned on August 22 to the
declaration of the new leader on September 15, the contest
was conducted in a blaze of publicity.
The rise of Labour appears to be mainly at the expense of
National, which is down 5.1 points since the June poll to
43.7 per cent support.
National would not have enough support to form a government
with present support partners Act holding the same number of
seats as they do now.
And even if its other support partner, the Maori Party, kept
its present three electorate seats, National's 56 seats plus
five for its support partners would still not be enough to
form a government.
Mr Key's support as preferred Prime Minister has fallen 9.4
points to 55.8 per cent.
Since becoming Prime Minister he has been in the 60s and
sometimes 70s. He has never been down to the 50s.
Mr Cunliffe scored a respectable 16.8 per cent in his first
appearance as Opposition leader in the preferred Prime
His predecessor's rating in June was 12.4 per cent. A total
of 20.4 per cent of those polled said they were more likely
to vote Labour next election with Mr Cunliffe as leader than
before, 14.4 per cent said less likely, and 63 per cent said
it would make no difference to their vote.
New Zealand First gained 4.4 per cent support in the poll,
putting it below the 5 per cent threshold. This means that
unless it won an electorate, it would have no seats.
Leader Winston Peters gained 6.2 per cent support as
preferred prime minister.
National may see the poll result as the result of saturation
attention on Labour but it also highlights one of National's
biggest electoral problems - the lack of support partners.
The seat calculation figures assume - as have other polls -
that electorate seats held by Act, United Future, Mana and
the Maori Party are retained. But that is not nearly as
certain as it has been for previous elections.
National has faced fewer controversies in recent months than
it did at the start of the year, but the Opposition has been
accusing it of "crony capitalism" over issues such as the $30
million payment to Pacific Aluminium Smelter, possible help
for Chorus through internet pricing and the SkyCity
convention centre deal.
National has passed the GCSB legislation, faced uproar over
limits to snapper catches, and has made progress on its next
part-sale of state-owned energy company Meridian.
The drop in National's support is also reflected in the poll
question about whether the Government is moving in the right
direction. The percentage answering "yes" dropped 5.5 points
and the "no" response increased 5.9 points.
* The poll of 750 eligible voters was taken between September
17 and 23 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 per
cent. The party vote result is of decided voters; 8.6 per
cent of respondents were undecided.
- Audrey Young