Poll sees PM's popularity skyrocket; National, Bridges plummet

Author
Claire Trevett, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 18 May 2020, 6:06PM
The poll was a positive for Jacidna Ardern, left, but shows Simon Bridges' job may be in trouble.
The poll was a positive for Jacidna Ardern, left, but shows Simon Bridges' job may be in trouble.

Poll sees PM's popularity skyrocket; National, Bridges plummet

Author
Claire Trevett, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 18 May 2020, 6:06PM

The National Party has plummeted to 30 per cent in the first public poll since the Covid-19 crisis took hold.

The Newshub Reid Research poll has National at 30.6 - while Labour has rocketed up to 56.5 per cent under Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's leadership through the Covid-19 crisis.

As preferred PM, Ardern was at 59.5 per cent - up 20.8 points on the last poll and the highest any Prime Minister has scored in the Reid Research poll.

The Green Party is on 5.5 per cent, and NZ First has dropped to 2.7 per cent - well below the threshold to return to Parliament.

Those results would give Labour 72 seats in Parliament, National 39, and Act 2. The Greens would get seven seats.

The National Party's result is down almost 13 points from the last poll in February, when it was at 43 per cent.

On this poll's results, its caucus would be decimated – it would lose 13 MPs. That would mean all but two of its List MPs if it held its current electorate seats.

National leader Simon Bridges' popularity has crashed to 4.5% - down by 6.1 percentage points - but still ahead of Judith Collins who is on 3.1%.

Bridges was down to 4.5 per cent - a six-point drop for him.

The poll of 1000 people was conducted from May 8-16. It has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent.

Ardern told Newshub: "It speaks to the work we've jointly done. I just happen to have had the humble and privileged opportunity to be leading at this time."

She was taking nothing for granted despite the poll, she said.

"The fact that I'm making no assumptions about what will be the end outcome ... on election day should be a nod to that."

Bridges told Newshub he "absolutely" expected to stay on to fight the election, saying the polls bounced around at such times.

He said it had been impossible to get media coverage during the past months: "We've seen lockdown wall to wall coverage of the Government."

It is a disastrous result for Bridges and the party, just four months ahead of September's general election, and will cause ructions within the caucus, especially among List MPs whose places are in danger.

Bridges has struggled to get traction in the preferred Prime Minister stakes since taking over in early 2018, and faced a public backlash in the earlier days of the Covid-19 lockdowns after criticising elements of the Government's response.

Most of the Reid Research poll was conducted prior to last week's Budget, and takes into account public sentiment in the final days of the level three lockdown.

The poll result is a significant change in fortunes for the National Party, which was sitting at 43.3 per cent in the most recent Reid Research poll in February this year – slightly ahead of Labour.

National was also sitting pretty in a February One News Colmar Brunton poll, on 46 per cent – a poll on which it could have taken the Government benches with Act.

However, Bridges had struggled to get airtime throughout the crisis, while Ardern's leadership was further cemented and lauded both domestically and internationally.

The National Party has rebounded from bad polls in the past - including after the dramatic accusations and expulson of MP Jami Lee Ross, and after the Christchurch mosque attacks when Ardern's popularity soared over her handling of that disaster.

However, those results were not as resounding as these - nor as close to an election.

The poll also found that 91.6 per cent of the public supported the level four lockdown.