Roy Morgan poll sees surge for NZ First as Peters takes stand on flag referendum

National lead cut to smallest since September.

National's lead has been cut to its smallest since September, according to the latest Roy Morgan poll. For what it's worth this far adrift from an election, combined support for Labour, the Greens and NZ First is a nose ahead of National and its partners.

The Aussie survey company also finds NZ First has jumped 3% to 9% support, which pollster Gary Morgan pins on Winston Peter's campaign to keep the flag (scroll down for full results).

NBR's take: it's hard to gauge a trend from one poll, and it's tricky to assign any shift to the flag referendum given the referendum has failed to rouse Kiwis beyond a low-intensity debate.

Nevertheless, other polls have found the Prime Minister on the wrong side of the flag-change debate. Postal voting closes March 24.

But while John Key has likely failed in his push for change amid mixed messages about the flag, royal honours and NZ becoming a republic, this poll, and the referendum itself, will be long forgotten by the next election.

Despite the drop in support for National, Roy Morgan's NZ Government Confidence index increased to 132pts (up 4pts) in March and is now a very large 30pts higher than Roy Morgan Australian Government Confidence – which is at a lowly 102pts in mid-March.

Click to zoom.  A cross-section of 861 were surveyed by landline and mobile phone. 8% did not name a party.

Pollster Gary Morgan comments, "Today’s Roy Morgan New Zealand Poll brings the centrist party, NZ First 9% (up 3%) into the equation as potential ‘king-makers’ able to determine who would form New Zealand’s next Government and be Prime Minister after the next New Zealand Election – due late next year.

“New Zealand First Leader Winston Peter’s strong stand on the New Zealand Flag Referendum – being voted on this month – that only New Zealand citizens should have the right to vote, rather than both citizens and permanent residents, appears to have won the party significant support. NZ First was last in Government under Prime Minister Helen Clark between 2005-08."

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