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.
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.