National support dropping

National is shedding support to chief rival Labour as the election nears, but it still has enough backing to govern the country alone, the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey shows.

Like several other polls over the past month, the August Digipoll shows a narrower gap between the two major parties of 13.7 percentage points - far smaller than the 24.6 point difference in the same poll in July.

John Key and Helen Clark are neck and neck as preferred Prime Minister.

National registers 50% support in the poll - still a huge number given that an election is less than three months away.

But the trend will be something of a worry to the party, with its support dropping 5.4 points since July, while Labour's has lifted 5.5 points to 36.3%.

It is the closest race registered in the DigiPoll since March of this year, when there was a 10.6% difference.

Translated into seats in the House, National could govern alone with 62 seats in a 122-seat Parliament - something Mr Key will be conscious of given his move yesterday to effectively rule out working with New Zealand First leader Winston Peters after the election.

Mr Peters' party would fail to reach Parliament on the poll's results, with NZ First registering just 2.1% support.

In July, it reached 4.1%, which suggests the ongoing controversy surrounding Mr Peters is hurting his party.

National's fall in support has come after a month where it has been under pressure on several fronts, including over secret recordings taken at its annual conference cocktail party which fuelled Labour claims that Mr Key has a "secret agenda".

While National has been releasing more policy, such as its welfare and energy plans, they appear to have had little impact.

An analysis of where National has shed support shows it is down five percentage points in Auckland, while Labour is up almost the same amount. - The New Zealand Herald

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