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Poll backs Cunliffe to stay but Shearer favourite replacement

David Cunliffe's leadership of the Labour Party is facing testing times with low poll ratings and the donations saga.

With the Labour leader facing tough times, should he step down as leader? Source: 1 NEWS

The latest ONE News Colmar Brunton poll asked voters whether Mr Cunliffe should step down and who people might prefer in his place.

David Shearer was replaced as Labour leader less than a year ago. He's pledging loyalty to Mr Cunliffe now, but voters want him back.

Asked in the poll if David Cunliffe should step down as leader before the election, 54% think he should stay while 29% say he should resign. When Labour supporters were asked, 20% thought he should step-down while 65% say Mr Cunliffe should stick it out.

ONE News political reporter Katie Bradford says it's clear he's got backing from party faithful after the pressures of the Donghua Liu saga.

"I think that's water under the bridge now," Mr Cunliffe says.

But if he did resign, nearly one fifth of voters, 18%, say David Shearer should take over, followed closely by Grant Robertson on 17%. Jacinda Ardern is third choice on 13% and deputy leader David Parker has 12% backing.

"We've got one leader. I was leader before. I know what it's like when you don't have the loyalty of everybody in the party, and so I pledge my loyalty to the leader that we have," Mr Shearer says.

Katie Bradford says the Labour Party heads into its election year conference this weekend determined to take the attention away from leadership woes and onto policies.

"There's no option at the moment. We're just thinking about winning the election and getting in behind David Cunliffe," Mr Shearer says.

No ringing endorsement there, but like it or not, David Cunliffe looks to be leading Labour into the election, Katie Bradford says.