Just three percentage points separate the governing National Party from the combined vote of Labour and Green party supporters in the latest Roy Morgan opinion poll, its second to last before polling day, Sept. 20.
Covering the full period since the release of Nicky Hager's 'Dirty Politics' book and the resignation from Cabinet last Saturday by former Justice Minister Judith Collins, the poll shows National on 45 percent support, while Labour and the Greens combined poll 42 percent, placing the main Opposition parties within striking distance of defeating the incumbent government of Prime Minister John Key.
However, the news is not all good for Labour, which has slipped 1.5 percentage points to 26 percent support, while the Greens have risen 4.5 percent to 16 percent, their best result since August 2012.
For its part, National has taken a three point knock to sit at 45 percent support, the lowest level of support at which it could realistically expect to be able to form a government. Roy Morgan conducts a rolling nightly poll, so the result covers the views of 762 people polled in the period Aug. 18 to 31, so picks up two full weeks of political reaction to the Hager book, but very little of the reaction to Key's move against Collins, which saw her resign last Saturday, Aug. 30. (See graph below)
"If a national election were held now, the latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows that the result would be too close to call," the Australian-based pollster says in a statement with the latest results.
In this poll, New Zealand First entrenches its position the post-election kingmaker, with support rising 1.5 percentage points to 6.5 percent, while Internet-Mana has faded 1.5 percentage points to 1 percent support, which would return it just one MP, assuming co-leader Hone Harawira wins his electorate seat of Te Tai Tokerau.
Colin Craig's Conservatives party also makes ground, up 2.5 percentage points from the last poll to hit its highest ever score in a Roy Morgan poll, at 3.5 percent support, but still short of the 5 percent required to enter Parliament unless a Conservative candidate does the unexpected and wins an electorate seat.
The Maori Party's support halved from the last poll, to 0.5 percent, while the Act party doubled its support to 1 percent. United Future, previously at 0.5 percent support, registered nil in the latest poll.
If today's numbers were converted to electoral seats, they would deliver a 121 seat Parliament, in which National would have 57 seats, four short of a clear majority, while New Zealand First would have eight MP's.
Labour would win 32 seats and would be the weak larger partner in any governing arrangement with the Greens, who would gain 21 seats for a combined total of 53 seats, eight short of a clear majority, which New Zealand First would be able to supply on the results of the latest poll.
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