Confused polls

Just what has been moving the polls around this week?

Today's new polls of polls adds the oddly erratic polls from the weekend, which saw at least one polling company embarrass itself with a poll that was wildly out of kilter with public opinion. But which one? TV3/TNS and Roy Morgan had Labour within six points, TVNZ/Colmar Brunton had National holding on to its comfortable double-digit lead.

Our poll of polls still has National able to form a government in coalition with Act. But the margin is narrowing, as expected, making National's need for a coalition partner, or two or three, or the more likely. So our story last week revealing that Rodney Hide and John Key came to an arrangement over Epsom at the start of the year becomes even more significant. Act could be essential to the Nats.

Labour, the Greens and the Progressives remain ten seats behind the right-wing coalition. But add in the Maori Party's five seats and Peter Dunne with United Future–a large, but feasible coalition–and it's clear that a swing of only a few percentage points to the left-leaning parties put them back neck-and-neck with the right.

It's interesting to note the timing of these polls. The Roy Morgan poll was the earliest of the three, and between that poll and the others on October 6, National announced it's two strikes prison policy. Could that have reversed the slump shown in the Roy Morgan poll, that ended several days earlier? Perhaps around the margins, but it doesn't explain a 15 point difference. Perhaps the TVNZ poll slow to pick up on people's growing nervousness about change in unsettled times? That still seems more likely. TVNZ's poll was from October 4th-9th inclusive, and with National's tax cuts coming out on the 9th, it will have absorbed a little of that news, but it may somehow have missed a political flight to safety in the face of the financial crisis.

Next weekend's polls will take into account the impact of National's re-jigged tax cuts and Labour's bank deposit guarantee scheme. Labour's student allowance announcement yesterday will only impact some of the nights of polling, as will the leaders' performance in tonight's first debate on TV One. More on that shortly.