The NZ Taxpayers Union has just released an opinion poll they commissioned last week. The Curia poll was taken during the current Covid lockdown and not only tells us how the parties are standing but delves a bit deeper into the voters preferences.
- Labour has rebounded to 45.8%, up about 6% from pre-lockdown ratings. This is unsurprising and likely reflects a large proportion of the public’s approval of the virus elimination strategy.
- ACT are at an all-time high of 14.9%, up another 2% on recent polls. This is probably due to the relatively favourable media coverage that they have enjoyed recently and the lacklustre performance of the National Party.
- The Greens polled 9.6%, so steady as she goes.
- The Maori Party scored 1.2% indicating that, as usual, most Maori don’t want a bar of what they advocate.
- NZ First got 2.7% and other small parties collectively polled 4.5%.
- National are the big losers, attracting only 21.3%, down about 8% on recent polls. Needless to say, this is a terrible result and signals a party which lacks strong leadership and direction, only appealing to its die-hard supporters.
Based on these results, we would get a Labour-Greens coalition government with 70 seats in parliament - a very comfortable majority. This would allow Labour to progress its He Puapua agenda unchecked and would also lead to more extreme environmental, climate change and social policies from the Greens - the perfect storm, you might say.
Of course, once we finally come out of our “short, sharp” lockdown, votes will probably leak from Labour as happened after previous lockdowns. The key question is how many and to whom?
The poll contained a very interesting analysis of party support by gender. Thankfully, only the two traditional genders are reported - male and female. This makes the statistical comparison much easier, especially for those of us older than 30.
56.4% of women polled opted for Labour, but only 34.9% of men. In other words, women are 1.6 times more likely to vote Labour than men. This is probably not too surprising to many people. Labour has a young, female leader who is charismatic, communicates well and projects an inclusive, kind and caring persona. These traits are typically more associated with and appealing to women rather than men. I unreservedly apologise now to all the women who don’t fall into this generalisation and who I have probably offended!
However, 11.1% of women supported the Greens, with only 8.3% of men. Not as great a split but still showing that women are 1.35 times more likely to vote Greens. Could it be that the Greens co-leaders have similar popular characteristics to Jacinda? Well, not according to a further analysis in the Curia poll showing the “favourability rating” of party leaders and likely contenders.
As expected, Jacinda outscores everyone else by a country mile but the next most favourable is David Seymour. James Shaw and Marama Davidson aren’t as bad as Judith Collins or Winston Peters, who unsurprisingly finishes bottom, but their unfavourable rating is still 2-3 times higher than their favourable score. They hardly resonate with the public.
So this brings me back to the question asked in the title of my blog - are women more left-wing than men? In this poll at least, women plainly favour BOTH left-wing parties in NZ whereas men overwhelmingly support National (1.7 times more than women) and ACT (2.6 times more than women). There is a clear divide by gender into left and right wing camps.
But are women voting for the person, in the case of Jacinda, or the policies? Considering that National governments have been common in recent times, so must have had much more women voting for them, it suggests a lot of women are currently voting by personality.
I could have taken the alternative viewpoint and asked - are men more right wing than women? - and this poll shows that they certainly are. But we have to define left and right in the current NZ context. National and ACT are politically centre-right at most, whereas Labour and the Greens are peddling a very left-wing brand of neo-marxism/socialism, nicely gift-wrapped to disguise the separatist and racist agenda lurking inside. In terms of extremism it’s like comparing Covid to the common cold.
Whatever the answer to my question, one thing is explicit. If the centre-right wants to get into power in two years time it has to attract many more women voters. That is a big ask because I believe that many voters - both men and women - vote by personality rather than policy. They only vote for someone that they like or feel a connection to. On this basis, I can’t see anyone else out there who will compete with Jacinda for many women's votes.
Exposure of Labour’s He Puapua plan put a dent in their ratings earlier this year but the polls indicated that they would still have been able to form a government in partnership with the Greens. Many people either don’t know about, care or understand what He Puapua means and the challenge for ACT and National, as well as all their supporters, is finding a way to cancel the Jacindamania effect, appeal to more women and pull them back to the centre.
If they can’t then it’s another 3 years in opposition and an increasingly divided New Zealand as we pick up speed on the separatist helter-skelter.
Derek Mackie is a geologist with a keen interest in current affairs.