Poll reversal puts National back in front

READ ALSO:  Final debate: Ardern, English trade blows as National pulls in front

You could call it a rollercoaster — although that would be a comparison giving nausea-inducing sideshow rides an unfairly bad name.

The latest public opinion poll – this one from Colmar Brunton/TVNZ – has the National Party back in the lead, with 46% of those surveyed saying they would vote for the governing party.

That is six points up on the previous Colmar Brunton poll last week.

Labour is down seven points, to 37%. New Zealand First has dropped below the Green party and is trembling on the brink of political oblivion at 4.9%.

The Green Party has risen one point to 8%.

That is a sizable turnaround for National.

It comes after a week that saw Labour leader Jacinda Arden on the back foot over spending and tax policies.

The minutiae of those policies probably went over the heads of most voters.

But certainly the arguments over whether there really was a $11 billion hole in Labour’s fiscal plan, as claimed by national finance spokesman Steven Joyce, or whether Labour had simply put its operating allowance in the wrong part of the spreadsheet and at the same time run far too optimistic a projection of what spending would be needed in areas outside health and education, really didn’t matter much.

Translated into seats, the 1 News-Colmar Brunton poll would give National 58 and its allies ACT and the Maori Party one each for a total of 60. The total size of the new parliament will depend on overhang but 61 will be the bare minimum required for a majority. That would mean National would have to run to NZ First (six seats). Labour would have 46 and the Greens nine seats according to Colmar Brunton's result.

They sowed some doubt in the minds of wavering voters – but the net outcome was probably a rough draw. 

Ms Ardern’s tax wobbles were more damaging. She was clearly at sea on some tax issues – being unable to initially give a straight answer on a land tax and the family home – and then the deferral of a capital gains tax until a second term compounded the general impression of a party that does not quite grasp the implications of its often rather slogan-based policy positions.

Hence the drift back to National.

Mr English has not had a great week but then he seldom does. He did not have a bad week either, and that in the context of this election was probably what mattered. 

The usual caveats apply: This is only one poll in what has been an extremely volatile election campaign. There is a maximum sampling error of plus or minus 3.1

READ ALSO:  Final debate: Ardern, English trade blows as National pulls in front

RELATED VIDEO: Interviews with both leaders in the final weeks of the campaign. 

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