Crunching the numbers in the last, late polls. Is there a swing further right? Is Winston toast? Has the Maori Party lost its kingmaker's crown?
The final polls, after weeks of volatility, have finally found some common ground. Coming from quite different positions two weeks ago, they now all agree that National, ACT and United Future will be able to govern without the Maori Party
There's been no final Roy Morgan poll yet, so we'll be watching for that later in the day. (There's also been no final tape from the National party conference yet, so we'll watch for that too).
Our PollWatch poll of polls, in contrast to the swinging of the individual polls, shows only slight movement. At its heart, the news is that a National-ACT-United Future coalition could govern with 64 seats in a 123 seat parliament. That's two more than the 62 needed. A Labour-Greens-Progressives-Maori Party grouping would get 59. The centre-left hasn't had the swing of roughly two percent that it needed to take pole position in the government-forming race. National and John Key have maintained their discipline in the last ten days, sticking to a message of cautious change, and those polled seem to be rewarding it for that.
For Labour, the news is that the momentum they seemed to be gaining a couple of weeks ago has stalled. The most obvious explanation for that is Mike Williams and his trip to Australia. As I've said elsewhere, I don't think it's anything any other party would have done if they thought they could expose an opponent. But it was foolishness for a party leader to dirty his own hands and it looked and felt shabby. As one prominent leftie said to be yesterday, it re-inforced the impression National has been pushing that Labour will do anything to stay in power.
The surge of support for ACT in the last few polls suggest a confidence on the right, and a last minute effort to pull the centrist Key further to the extreme. ACT has added a third MP in this poll of polls, and as we all know, that extra MP would be one Sir Roger Douglas.
The Greens are on-track for their best election yet. Their fear, however, must be that those on the left retreat to Labour in these final hours in an attempt to boost the major centre-left party. It's worth noting that given that any fourth-term Labour government would include the Greens, such a switch would achieve nothing in terms of overall seats in the House.
The Maori Party has slipped ever so slightly. Certainly there's been no surge, and with it running just behind Labour in Hauraki-Waikato and Ikaroa-Rawhiti, Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia may not have the impact on this election they had hoped. We've always given them five seats in our poll of polls, and my gut still says that's the best bet. But watch those seats closely on the night, because if the Maori Party gets more, the number of total MPS in the House will change, and with it the number of seats needed to reach a 50 percent majority.
New Zealand First shows no movement, its support failing to take off (like, say, a helicopter). Given that Winston Peters' party hasn't crossed the five percent threshold in years, the pointers are pointing to the exit, not to put too finer point on it.
So, in sum, National has maintained its momentum and there may even be a stronger swing to the right indicated in the latest polls, but just a day before the election, it's close.