Covid 19 Delta outbreak: New poll reveals initial impact of outbreak on political parties’ fortunes

A poll taken in the third week of the Delta outbreak has shown a nudge up in support for the Labour Party and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – halting a slow but steady fall in support for the governing party.

The UMR poll from August 31 to September 6 has Labour up two points to 45 per cent, and National back down to 26 per cent.

Act was holding steady on 13 per cent, and the Green Party was down 1 on 6 per cent. NZ First was at 4.1 per cent.

In early August, Labour was at 43 per cent in the same poll – it’s lowest result since February last year, before Covid-19 arrived.

Ardern’s popularity as preferred Prime Minister had also rallied to 55 per cent – up five points on the month before. Ardern’s support had been slowly but steadily falling off since a high of 65 per cent in March last year.

Judith Collins was unchanged at 14 per cent.

The poll was taken during the first week of Parliament’s return. Collins was facing criticism from some for refusing to allow a virtual Parliament and returning to Wellington from level 4 Auckland.

It pre-dated renewed speculation Collins could face a leadership challenge before year’s end from Simon Bridges.

Bridges did not register as preferred PM, and National MP Christopher Luxon was at 1.2 per cent.

In 2020, the first round of Covid-19 lockdowns resulted in a seismic shift in the fortunes of the political parties – National plummeted from the mid-40s to the 20s and has never recovered.

This latest poll picked up the increased anxiety of the first weeks of the outbreak – there was a sharp increase among those who believed the worst was still to come, and those concerned about the risk of catching Covid-19.

Despite increased scrutiny of the Government’s planning for a second outbreak and the vaccinations rollout, the poll showed trust in Ardern to manage the outbreak was holding firm.

About two thirds still rated the Covid-19 response as good – down on the highs of the 70s from earlier in the year but holding strong.

The number who believed the country was on the right track went from 62 per cent to 67 per cent: reversing a steady decline since March.

Those who thought the country was heading in the wrong direction had dropped from about one third to one quarter.

The poll of 1050 voters was taken from August 31 to September 6 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 per cent.

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