Now that we have had a more realistic political poll from Colmar Brunton, we can start to see the lie of the land regarding the upcoming election. Labour has a clear lead at 53. National is on 32. ACT is on 5%, and looks like it might hold it. NZ First is on 2% and the Greens are hovering around the 5% mark, and may or may not make it back into parliament.

People often comment, on the BFD and elsewhere, that “National has no friends”, but Labour actually has the same number of friends these days. If NZ First fails to make it back into parliament, which is looking increasingly more likely, then there are only 4 parties in contention, and quite honestly, all bets are off.

Before National’s leadership change, I was considering voting Labour, to try to put them in a position where they could govern without the Greens. The rise of Judith Collins has brought me home, as it has clearly brought a large number of disgruntled National voters back into the fold, but I now believe that type of thinking was wrong anyway. So long as the Greens make it back into parliament, Labour will reach across and offer them government roles. It would be crazy to think otherwise because they would then be able to blame the Greens for any hard-left policies that they want to introduce.

But back to the polls. The election campaign hasn’t started yet, and won’t start for another week or so. No one is campaigning yet. With the events of 2020 so far, it is probably fair to say that most voters are not much focused on the election yet; but that will change… and when it does, the numbers will change with it.

It is unlikely that Labour will remain at 58%, or anything like it. If a week is a long time in politics, 7 weeks is an eternity. While the wage subsidy is still available to businesses until the end of August, those that applied for the second tranche as soon as it was available will start to run out of it soon. In other words, those businesses currently being propped up by the subsidy are going to be facing reality in the next few weeks. Most businesses did apply for the subsidy early, indicating that they probably could not survive without it, so we will start to see the effects of the end of the subsidy in the first half of next month.

Consumer confidence is already slowing, as people close their wallets because they are concerned about job losses. Sure, we have had a wonderful couple of months, when businesses have done better than normal for the time of year, but remember that, for most businesses, particularly retail and hospitality, they were effectively locked down for almost 2 months. Now voters are becoming much more focused on economic realities than on the fact that we didn’t have a lot of people die from the virus. People can quickly forget these things when they are facing harsh economic reality, like wondering how to pay their mortgage.

I have seen estimates that claim that 1.2 million jobs are being supported by the wage subsidy. I have no idea how accurate that figure is, but that is almost half the employed population in this country. Unemployment for the March quarter was 4.2%, with 116,000 people unemployed at that time. Current estimates say there are now 212,000 unemployed, which is approximately 7% of the working population. The June quarter figures will be out soon, and should confirm this. As the wage subsidy runs out, expect the unemployment rate to increase further, meaning we could have 10%, or approximately 250,000 people unemployed by the election.

Many voters may think Jacinda has ‘saved’ us all. But who are they most likely to turn to if they think they are going to lose their jobs? Who do the majority of the voting population view as better economic managers? It isn’t Labour, and it definitely isn’t the Greens.

Speaking of the Greens, they have a particular problem. They are hovering around the 5% threshold, and have been doing so for some time. Their biggest problem is that most of their voters are young. That is one of the reasons why they are promoting Chloe Swarbrick so desperately at the moment. But nothing alters the fact that young people, in general, don’t vote. We have heard around the world about ‘youthquakes’ that never actually happened. Young people simply do not vote in large numbers. This presents a huge risk for the Greens, who may struggle to make it across the line if their voters don’t turn up at the polling booths on the day. And if the Greens don’t make it back into parliament, then the chances of a National/ACT government are exceptionally strong.

ACT may lose some of its support, of course, but it is generally thought that their new voters have mostly shifted from NZ First. By going into government with the Greens, letting down firearms users and signing NZ up to the UN Migration Compact, Winston has betrayed his voter base, and they are unlikely to come back. This is entirely due to hard work and consistency on the part of David Seymour and is well deserved. The chances of ACT making it across the 5% threshold are strong, and the chances of the Greens making it across the line are by no means certain.

I am not trying to predict the outcome of the election, and I admit to a personal bias towards a National-led government, but I just wanted to demonstrate how the outcome is by no means a foregone conclusion. Everyone is telling me how Labour are so far ahead, they can’t possibly lose and that they will be able to govern alone. But this is MMP and, even with fewer parties in the mix these days, nothing is certain. One thing is clear though; if NZ First are gone this time, the political lines will be very clear. We will have either a Labour-Greens government or a National-ACT government. ACT won’t go with Labour, and the Greens won’t go with National. There will be none of the horse trading of the last election. Personally, I will be glad for that, whatever the outcome. The 2020 election will result in a government chosen by the people of New Zealand… not one chosen by a man with 7% of the vote and a grudge. That has to be better for democracy, no matter what the outcome.

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