The Press on Labour

The Dom Post Press editorial:

The leader of the Labour Party, Phil Goff, yesterday attempted to dismiss the latest opinion-poll results showing popular support for the party continuing to slump dramatically, but the fact is the dire results are only the latest in what appears to be an unstoppable decline. …

Even more worrying for Labour, given the way election campaigns nowadays are very much presidential-style campaigns focused on party leaders, is the fact that Goff himself is rating not far above invisibility in the preferred prime minister rankings.

Goff defends his 6% by saying Clark was much the same in 1996. But this is not a good comparison because back then left wing voters were not saying Jim Bolger was their preferred PM, but that Anderton and Peters were.

In July 1996, Colmar Brunton had Clark at 7%, Peters 19% (and was 29% in May), Anderton 6%(had been 24% a year earlier) and Bolger 27%. Bolger was less than Clark, Peters and Anderton.

Compare this to Key who is 9 times as high as Goff, and no other left wing politician features strongly.

Let us look at how opposition leaders have polled in July of election years:

  • 2008 – Key was ahead of Clark
  • 2005 – Brash 20%, Clark 40%
  • 2002 – English 19%, Clark 48%
  • 1999 – Clark 22%, Shipley 25%
  • 1993 – Moore 14%, Peters 20%, Bolger 12%, Anderton 6%
  • 1990 – Bolger 12%, Moore 12%, Muldoon 8%, Peters 15%, Palmer 15%
  • 1987 – Bolger 14%, Lange 35%, Muldoon 13%,

So prior to 1999, other politicians such as Anderton, Peters and Muldoon took big chunks of the preferred PM ratings. That makes comparisons for the Opposition Leader less than useful. But since 1999 the polls have clearly shown that normally an opposition leader will poll around 20% – yet Goff is at 6%.

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