The final opinion polls of the 2017 general election have been released. The Colmar Brunton poll and the Reid Research poll are broadly in line with each other. Support for National sits at 45-47% while Labour is on 37%. The Greens have recovered but NZ First is volatile.
If we use the 2014 result as a baseline, then the polls forecast a historic shift to Labour. And yet, National would win a much greater share of the party vote. If the polls reflect the result on Saturday night then the National vote will have declined a mere 1-2 percentage points.
So, a change of government would depend on a Labour/Green bloc having the support of NZ First. In that regard, nothing much has changed since I wrote in May. While Labour has increased its support substantially, this has come almost entirely at the expense of its potential coalition partner.
But will NZ First be in a position to decide the next government? Or will it miss out yet again? Colmar Brunton has the party on 4.9% while Reid Research has it on 7.1%. In 2014, NZ First got 8.7%. In other words, we can expect the NZ First vote to decline by 1-4 percentage points.
Winston Peters’ hold on Northland could be crucial then. I think NZ First is going to be in the next Parliament. But the result will be very close and perhaps uncertain on election night. As a consequence, National will do slightly better than expected, and may be in a position to govern with its existing support partners.
Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell will hold Waiariki and Howie Tamati is poised to win Te Tai Hauāuru. An upset in one of the other Maori electorates cannot be ruled out either. Then there is ACT. With Epsom secure, it could win enough votes to elect a second MP. So, there is also potential for other kingmakers.
Whether it comes down to NZ First or not, I feel confident that there will not be a Labour-led government in 2017. The choice of government remains between the status quo and a Second National-NZ First Coalition.
Those of us wanting change must look to 2020.