Feb 2, 2011
Goff down, Labour up
The Te Karere digi-poll has confirmed Maori support remains with Labour and the Maori Party. 36.9% of respondents indicated they would vote Labour, 36.2% the Maori Party, 16.8% National, 4.5% Greens, 2.3% NZ First.
Labour has been bleeding Maori support for a number of years however the Party should be pleased that the trend appears to have floored. The biggest worry for Goff and the Party hierarchy is that 26.8% of respondents named John Key as their preferred Prime Minister. This indicates that many Labour Party supporters actually prefer the opposing team’s leader. There is a concrete perception among Maori that Goff is not in touch with Maori issues. Certainly his Nationhood speech encouraged the perception that he is openly hostile towards Maori aspirations. I still do not think this adequately explains why the Prime Minister has such high approval ratings. I guess some of it may come down to the power of ‘Brand Key’ and the utter impotency of ‘Brand Goff’. Either way Goff should lose no sleep over this - Labour is still the party of choice among Maori.
The poll was conducted in January, before the Maori Party schism I presume, therefore it is hard to know how much support, if any, the Maori Party has lost. Labour would hope to pick up any dissatisfied Maori Party members but this is unlikely. Hone’s followers make up the far left of the Party and the Maori Nationalist faction. The far left will naturally move to the Greens while the Maori Nationalist faction will not support any party that does not have tino rangatiratanga at its centre. Political apathy would most likely claim any exodus of Maori Nationalists.
This poll should be a wake up call for the Greens. The Greens are a natural political vehicle for Maori however support languishes at 4.5%. Many of the Party’s values are analogous with Maori values, for example kaitiakitanga, while one of the co-leaders is a wahine Maori of considerable mana. Ideally the Greens should be aiming for 5 – 10% support among Maori. The Greens speak urban middle class, a language Maori do not connect with so well, but green speak is analogous with Maori. The Greens need to connect the two.
National should not be worried. If anything support is high. New Zealand First should be able to leech some Maori support from Labour and National (nothing significant though).
To sum up the big winners in this poll are John Key, The Labour Party, and tentatively the Maori Party (remember we do not know if the party lost any support in the wake of the latest schism). The losers are the Greens and Phil Goff.