National's polling average may have peaked during July at 52.5% in the four polls up to mid-July. By end-July it was at 50.3%. That is still a very healthy figure under MMP but if National sheds only 4% by election day, it cannot count on a third term, even with help from ACT, United Future and the Maori party.
At the comparable time before the last election National was averaging around 56%. It dropped 9 percentage points from there to 47.3% at the election.
(The POLL of POLLS is an arithmetical average of the four most recent major polls, and will appear as a special series of election columns every Saturday on radionz.co.nz until after the election on September 20.)
National's lead over the Labour and the Greens combined also peaked in July at a whopping 14.7% . By end-July the average lead was down to 10.6%. Labour had edged up from a trough average of 25.4% to 27.7%, still seriously low for a party trying to convince voters it can lead a government but suggesting it might be on the mend. The Greens were 12%, close to their average for the 2014 year and looking likely to at least match its 2011 11% election score.
National leader John Key kept his long lead as preferred Prime Minister in the TV1 and TV3 polls: 48% in July, up from 47% in June in TV1 and 44% down from 47% in TV3. Labour leader David Cunliffe dropped from 10% to 8% and 10% to 9% respectively.
Winston Peters' New Zealand First party retreated during July to a four-poll average of 3.6%, down from a 5.0% average up to early July (it peaked in May at 6.1%). But that may be enough from which to scale 5%: at the same time before the 2011 election, when it got 6.6%, it was averaging around 2.5%.
Internet-Mana was averaging 2.1% in late July, the Conservatives 1.5%, the Maori party 1.1%, ACT 0.6% and United Future 0.3%.
Right track, wrong track?
Another important election pointer also looks to have gone through a peak in July: Roy Morgan's measure of whether people think the country is going in the right direction or the right direction. Those saying "right direction" were at 60% in late July, down from measures ranging from 63.5%-65.5% through the previous two months.
But that is still a very high reading. In a first-past-the-post election it would point to an easy re-election for an incumbent government. It is one reason why National continues to poll so highly.
(The POLL of POLLS is an arithmetical average of the four most recent major polls, and will appear in a special series of election columns by Political Analyst Colin James every Saturday on radionz.co.nz until after the election on September 20.
*The polls from which the last four at any one point are drawn are: TV1 Colmar Brunton, TV3 Reid Research, Fairfax Media-Ipsos, NZ Herald DigiPoll, Roy Morgan New Zealand (only one of its two a month is included) and UMR Research, which is not published. The four polls included in this average were Fairfax, Morgan, TV1 and UMR. The poll on whether the country is going in the right or wrong direction is from Roy Morgan New Zealand.)