A new Maori Television poll shows Maori support for Labour and Helen Clark remains high
Despite its remarkably steady poll lead, as shown in the latest Pollwatch poll of polls here on Pundit, National is taking a considerable gamble in this election. Still seemingly unable to understand that coalitions are at the heart of MMP, National's prime strategy is to win 50 percent of the vote on its own—or, at least, a percentage in the late 40s that's sufficient for it to govern alone.
It would be remarkable if National could hold its current lead. As David Lewis pointed out last week, no single party has won more than 50 percent of the vote since 1951.
If the Labour/Progressives/Greens/New Zealand First gaps closes, National's Plan B is to beg a few seats from Act, United Future and perhaps the Maori Party. Hence John Key's efforts to woo Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia and downplay the Maori-bashing that National revelled in under Don Brash. The Maori Party, shrewdly, has ruled nothing out, putting them in the box negotiating seat come November 9. Commentators have bought into the potential for a National—Maori coalition. The strongest point in that argument is that National could yet offer movement on the Foreshore and Seabed Act, or even some constitutionally-creative role for the Maori Party within a new government.
But the very serious weakness in that plan has been highlighted by a Maori Television poll released last night. The channel's statement reads:
A political poll commissioned by Maori Television shows that Labour has a clear majority of support amongst Maori voters (52 per cent) followed by the Maori party (20 per cent) and National (15 per cent)... On leader preferences and assessments, Maori voters' support for Labour is reflected in their much stronger preference for Helen Clark (38 per cent) for Prime Minister than John Key (10 per cent) who enjoys as much support for preferred PM as Winston Peters (10 per cent).
And that, in a nutshell, is why it would be very hard for the Maori Party to sign a deal with National. Sharples and Turia can't burn off the people it wants to be the party's long-term supporters for the sake of a single term in government.
|More honest than other politicians||61||22|
|Down to earth||74||42|
|In touch with the needs of Maori||52||14|
|Base: Maori voters||420||420|
I would have that thought that "In touch with the needs of Maori" is a crucial point.
MMP VOTING: PARTY VOTE: If a general election was held yesterday, which political party would you have voted for?
|18-28 September 2008|
|Don’t know/ undecided||11.3||12.6||10.7|
|Would not vote||2.9||2.9||2.9|
It seems that the National Party is still suffering from the Brash attacks, if not its decades-long refusal to take Maori issues seriously. What's surprising is that John Key doesn't rate better, despite his recent efforts. He may find solace in the fact his negatives aren't as high as his parties, but he'll be disappointed his positives aren't a lot better.
PREFERRED PRIME MINISTER:
|18-28 September 2008|
With numbers like this, National's going to have to offer the Maori Party the sweetest of sweetheart deals if the Maori Party is going to be able to sell a right-sided coalition to the people it represents.
Hat Tip to Rachel Cunliffe at Throng.