The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Monday, January 30, 2006

better dust off the pension plan

Noted in the most recent Sunday Star Times/BRC poll (Hat tip: I See Red), Don Brash is still a long way behind Helen Clark in the preferred Prime Minister stakes.

I know that bloggers and commenters from the Right get rather shirty rather quickly when those of us on the Left refer to Brash's limited political lifespan, but this really is the kicker.

It's not about National's ratings (43 in the above poll, to 42 for Labour), it's about Brash being seen as a credible PM.

Given his current polling, it's clear that almost half of those who would vote National don't see it's current leader as their first choice for our Great Helmsman. This is a big problem - not for National so much (seeing as their party vote is holding up) but for Brash personally. He cannot possibly consider his leadership safe while this continues.

Clark though seems to be unassailable. If I were Don I'd be hoping for a coup within Labour sometime soon, because it currently seems to be his only chance of bringing the Red Leader's polling down.

Thanks to Jordan Carter's constant reportage of the polls on Just Left, and his categories function (I am so jealous), I've been able to do a little bit of analysis*:

The lighter colours are the leaders, the darker ones the parties. These results cover 14 polls, from the 31st August last year (TV3/TNS), until the SST/BRC one released yesterday, also covering polls from the NZ Herald, One News/Colmar Brunton and Fairfax/AC Neilsen. Most of them are of course bunched in September, just prior to the election, but the trend is the thing.

What I find interesting is that Brash(light blue) has consistently polled considerably lower than his party (National, dark blue). Clark (pink) tends to poll either close to Labour's rating(red), or above it. On only one occasion does she fall below Labour by more than a few points (Sept 7th).

I haven't included Winston Peters (because many of the polls didn't) but Mr Pinstripe always rated higher than NZ First when his result was mentioned.

John Key of course will be hoovering up some of those National Preferred PM ticks (9% in the most recent SST poll, and he's only shown up in the last four polls). But there's still a gap of 9% currently - that's 9% of National voters who don't want Brash or Key as PM (English anyone?). And of course when Clark rates higher than Labour, and Brash lower than National, the obvious answer is that there may be National voters who still prefer Helen over Don.

Orewa III** (actually happening down the road in Silverdale this year) could see Brash get that boost he needs to survive the year. I guess we'll have a better idea this time next month if, outside of the political gala of election year, Brash can cut it - as preferred Prime Minister and in the House.


Don Brash
New Zealand Prime Minister


* Sorry about the appalling quality of this picture - if anyone can give me some tips on how to better capture a chart from Excel and turn it into a jpeg that would be much appreciated.

* Can anyone point to any information about this on the National website? Or even a release from Brash on Scoop about it? I couldn't find a bean.


Dave said...

You wil find that in coming polls, those on the right - and not just national supporters, but also UF and Act supporters, see that John Key would make a better PM than Brash.

Pamziewamzie said...

Very interesting... I think a leader is vital to the party, look at Peters.
I kind of feel sorry for Brash though, he did so much for National and they are going to dump him like a bad boyfriend. That's politics for ya.

Justin said...

Yawn. Back in 1995, Helen Clark was polling 2-3% as preferred Prime Minister, and was elected a year later. The incumbency factor is huge, but doesn't decide governments. A large chunk of the electorate "prefer" the incumbent PM *because* they are the incumbent PM. If any opposition leader was polling ahead of Clark, it would be very unusual.

Rich said...

I don't quite see the point of the preferred PM polls. We elect a parliament, not a PM. So surely voting intentions are what decide the election?

Has anyone got the numbers on final "preferred PM" vs "voting intention" figures up to the last few elections? I'd suspect that the latter would have a better correlation to the result.

Rich said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rich said...

I looked it up for the TV3 poll just before the election. I assumed that those wanting Helen would vote for the parties pledged to back Labour (Lab/Grn/Prog), Brash supporters would vote Nat or ACT, Winnies supporters would just vote NZF. I normalised the numbers to make the total 100%, and we get:

(sorry about the format)

Pref PM, Voting int, Vote
Clark 53% 47.8% 47.5%
Brash 32% 40.6% 39.6%
Peters 14% 5.7% 6.8%

So the voting intentions were pretty close (fully within the expected margin of error). The preferred PM figures - my case rests!

Graham Watson said...

It is heartening to see National supporters taking a broad view of politics and voting for a talented team.

Labour supporters however are similar to their NZ first and UF partners in the respect they vote for parties where support is based on cult following of an individual (albeit a very samll cult for UF).

While I have no problem with populist candidates as this is a feature of democracy, it is very interesting to note that the majority of those with a mature political lens support National.

Anonymous said...

isn't that called trolling graham?

Pamziewamzie said...

I don't think Green supporters go for personalities either...
You must admit though that it can be taken too far, and a greasy, lying (referring to exclusive brethren & gone by lunchtime comments) leader like Brash can be forgotten in support for National party policy. I can't believe they still got so many votes.

span said...

Ah GPJ you still know how to crack me up - if leftish voters are reasonably united in their support of one particular person for PM they are cultish, but you can bet your bottom dollar if they weren't you'd be lambasting them for their lack of unity.

My point is not that National is not unified, but that Brash isn't capable of toppling Clark as preferred PM and unless he does make some inroads to her ratings his leadership is not secure.

Graham Watson said...

Now that you have been more specific about your point I can remove my tongue from the cheek.

I would disagree to a degree with your point however, in that while I agree it would secure his leadership further if he made inroads in to her ratings, I suspect the overall rating of National in the polls will be a much more important factor in this regard.

Anonymous, my comments were on topic and owned by a person, who's the troll?

Craig Ranapia said...


Well, I agree with the school of thought that preferred PM polls are very useful for media organisations looking for a hook for a personality-based story. (So much easier than actually covering ideas or policies, don't 'cha know.) But they
're of limited use when you're trying to make sense of why voters vote, especially in a country where we don't elected our executive and legislative branches separately.

I will make this comment, though. I'd be very worried if National's support turned out to quite so dependent on a leadership personality cult - which is one (admittedly highly contentious) reading of your post, as opposed to a platform being pushed by a strong team.

maps said...

Graham old boy: what are you planning on doing for a crust of bread in the years til you hit pension age? If you're interested in the position, I'd be keen to run a campaign to make you the next leader of the National Party. I'll even join the party wear a blue ribbon and eat scones with old ladies from Remuera at Sunday morning fundraisers if I have to.

After the job you've done decimating Act memberships and representation in parliament over the past few years you could be the left's secret weapon. Let me know...

Graham Watson said...

Thankyou for your support maps, although that is not my ambition. Private business is more rewarding.

You may not have realised but I have long left ACT, at a time when it had much higher membership and Parliamentary represenatation than currently.

Many have said however that my leaving for the private sector had something to do with its demise, although I cannot take the credit you give me for that.

If I were a secret weapon for the left I would have had to have been operating under very deep cover for many years. But if your point is I should stay with National and not take my support and skills elsewhere I will happily oblige, especially if that gives you the blue ribbon and scones you so eagerly desire.