Horizon poll: Nats & Labour neck-and-neck, ACT at two MPs

PLUS: revealing gender and age split data in this major new poll, released exclusively to NBR.

National (38.5%) and Labour (38.2%) are neck-and-neck according to a new poll from Horizon Research.

The survey also finds ACT on 1.4%, just over the 1.2% threshold for David Seymour to bring in a second MP on his coat-tails if he holds Epsom – although Horizon manager Grant McInman concedes it's difficult to pin down support for the minor parties.

The headline Horizon results (click to zoom):

Sample: 846 registered, likely voters, surveyed online Sept 9-14. Weighted by age, gender and region to match census data. Compliant with the Research Association New Zealand Political Polling Code.

Translated into seats, the survey would leave National (48) short of the 61 needed for a bare majority even if allies ACT (2) and the Maori Party (1) hold their electorates. NZ First (12) would be kingmaker.

Mr McInman says the overall message of his and other companies' polls is that the race is too close to call.

It could come down to which party is most effective at getting its supporters to the polls, he says.

So far, advance voting has been heavy overall according to Electoral Commission data but with the caveat that the under-30s have actually registered in smaller numbers than 2014 – a sub-trend that has to concern Labour, given it draws disproportionately high support from that group; see age split figures below.

Expected and preferred coalition leader
"Who do you expect to win?" is a question sometimes used by pollsters to tease out a possible change in voting intention, or to highlight possible trends under the herd mentality that sees some voters break at the last minute for the party they think will get over the line.

Horizon found that, overall, 59% of decided voters are expecting Labour to lead a coalition government if one is needed. Some 41% expect National would lead it.

Asked who they would prefer to lead a coalition, 53% say Labour, 47% National.

Gender split
Women are a significant driver of Labour’s support in this poll especially since the change to Jacinda Ardern as leader, says Horizon manager Grant McInman.

According to his company's survey, 42% of women voters support Labour, 33% National.

National is stronger among men: 44% to 34% for Labour.

Two very different visions of NZ: Ardern and English on the campaign trail.

Age split
By age, Labour’s strongest support is coming from those aged 18-34.

Some 52% of definite voters aged 18-24 support Labour, 25% National.

Some 47% of those aged 25-34 support Labour, 32% National.

The parties each have 32% of those aged 35-44 years.

National has more support among those aged 45+.

Among those 65+, National has 52%, Labour 29%.

How others are calling it
The Horizon poll comes on the heels of a Roy Morgan survey released last night that had National 40% on (down from 42.5% a month ago), Labour 39.5% (from 32.5), Greens 9% (no change), NZ First 6% (down from 11.5%), the Maori Party on 2% (high enough for a coat-tail MP) and ACT on 0.5%. "Others" including TOP are on 2.5%.

The past week has also seen opposing polls from Newshub-Reid Research (Nat 47.3, Lab 37.8 NZF 6, Green 4.9:  ACT 0.6) and 1 News-Colmar Brunton (Lab 44, Nat 40, Green 7, NZF 6, ACT 0.6).

All of the surveys quoted above were taken in whole or part before the week's major development: Labour leader Jacinda Ardern's "captain's call" to delay most of the party's tax reform agenda until after the 2020 election.

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