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Auckland Central electorate race narrowing, Q+A Colmar Brunton poll reveals

The three-way battle for the Auckland Central electorate is becoming a tighter race – with Labour’s Helen White out in front on 35%, National’s Emma Mellow close behind on 30% and Green Party’s Chlöe Swarbrick following on 26%.

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The race between Helen White, Emma Mellow and Chlöe Swarbrick is narrowing. Source: Q+A

The latest Q+A Colmar Brunton Poll in Auckland Central shows a narrow gap between the candidates.

Auckland Central candidate:
Labour - Helen White 35%
National - Emma Mellow 30%
Green Party - Chlöe Swarbrick 26%
ACT - Felix Poole 4%
Sustainable New Zealand Party - Vernon Tava 2%
TEA Party - Dominic Hoffman Dervan 1%
NZ First - Jenny Marcroft 1%
Don’t know/refused 9%

Watch TVNZ1’s Q+A.

Appearing on the show this morning, White told host Jack Tame she would work "very hard" if she were to win the seat. 

On a possibility of the Greens and Labour splitting the electorate vote, White said she would "love" Swarbrick to pull back - "but I don’t think she’s going to".

"I’ve always said it’s really important we don’t split the vote on the left, I’ve never been complacent about this. It’s a really important race for Labour and for the city. I’d hate to take any chances we’d split that vote," she said. 

Swarbrick replied saying that "perhaps there is a little bit of underestimation of the independent thinking that people in Auckland Central have".

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Helen White, Emma Mellow and Chlöe Swarbrick give their pitches to voters on Q+A. Source: Q+A

"Nobody is entitled to this electorate and it is Auckland Central voters who will decide who represents them in Auckland Central.

"They have shown in the past… that they value hard work, independent thinking and boots on the ground. Over the past three years, despite being a list MP for the Greens, I very much had my boots on the ground."

When asked if Greens were risking splitting the vote, Swarbrick said, "for five elections, the Greens ran party vote campaigns, but we’re still blamed, arguably, for splitting the vote". 

Mellow was asked by Tame why she was not resonating to the level former electorate MP Nikki Kaye did – "I’m working incredibly hard on the ground, I’m very encouraged by this poll," Mellow said.

"The people of Auckland Central need a person with corporate and business experience that will be a great advocate for small businesses in Parliament because we’re facing the biggest economic crisis in a century.

"We know businesses create jobs, not the Government and they need a voice in Parliament."

A different story can be seen in party support – with Labour on 47% significantly ahead of National on 28%.

Party support in Auckland Central
Labour Party 47%
National Party 28%
Green Party 13%
ACT party 6%
The Opportunities Party (TOP) 2.2%
New Zealand First 1.7%
Sustainable New Zealand Party 0.6%
Don’t know/refused 5%

In comparison, National received 39% in the 2017 election and Labour received 38%. In 2014, Labour received just 22% to National’s 45%.

The race for Auckland Central gained momentum after incumbent Nikki Kaye announced her retirement in July, two-days after Judith Collins took the National Party leadership from Todd Muller.

Kaye pulled the seat from Labour in 2008 – in that time having twice beaten Jacinda Ardern and defeating contender Helen White last election.  

Employment lawyer Helen White told 1 NEWS in August it was “a really challenging time” in Auckland Central.

Q+A's Colmar Brunton Auckland Central poll. Source: 1 NEWS

“Some things got neglected for a long time and they actually need fixing and there are lots of good plans and it's really important we have a voice in Government.”

Almost a month before Kaye revealed her intention to leave politics, Chlöe Swarbrick announced her bid to run for Auckland Central.

Swarbrick spoke about wanting to turn the electorate Green.

"I believe I have the dedication, I have the track record and I live here," she said in August. "I love it here. I've run small businesses here - this is my home and I hope to represent it."

It wasn’t until August that Emma Mellow, who worked as a senior communications manager, was announced as the National Party’s candidate.

"I'm a young liberal female living in Auckland central - but most importantly, I'm part of an amazing machine led by Judith Collins and the National Party," Mellow said at the time.

*Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding, and don’t know/refused are additional.

Between September 24 and 30, 2020, 502 eligible Auckland Central electorate voters were polled by landline (251) or polled from Colmar Brunton’s online panel (251). The maximum sampling error is approximately ±4.4%-points at the 95% confidence level. The data has been weighted to align with Stats NZ population counts for age, gender, ethnic identification in Auckland Central.