Turbulent economic times are making New Zealand voters nervous with a majority of people surveyed in the latest One News Colmar Brunton poll seeing little likelihood that the economy will improve over the next 12 months.
When asked, 41% were pessimistic that things would improve. Only 36% thought they would. The rest thought the economy would remain about where it is.
One News Colmar Brunton polling hasn’t seen pessimism like that since April 2011 when 45% of voters surveyed saw little likelihood of the economy improving.
In May of 2012 voters were evenly split at 38% being optimistic and the same percentage pessimistic.
In fact, One New Colmar Brunton polling has always showed a more optimistic than pessimistic economic outlook since around mid-2009.
The current nervousness is understandable – Greece is effectively bankrupt, China’s in an economic slowdown with its share market suffering moments of meltdown in recent weeks, and closer to home there are those global dairy prices which offer no hint of an up-swing for New Zealand farmers anytime soon.
The Government concedes that we face a bumpy economic ride ahead.
Economic Development Minister, Steven Joyce says “I think people are obviously a bit concerned about the volatility, particularly when it comes to the dairy industry".
Even so, John Key and his government warn against “pulling the panic switch” pointing to strong economic performances in the tourism, wine, and red meat sectors.
And there are signs that revised Treasury figures will have the Government looking at a budget surplus for the past 12 months. Final confirmation on that should by October.
So, despite the nervousness, John Key and National haven’t taken too much of a political hit.
In the latest One News Colmar Brunton poll, National has 47% party support; down 1% on May.
Labour is on 32%; up 1%.
And while they will be pleased to be heading in the right direction Labour would possibly have hoped for more of a lift given the media attention their Housing spokesman Phil Twyford’s campaign over foreign buyers in the Auckland property market has received.
But leader, Andrew Little, says, “I always have taken the view that people are biding their time with Labour.
“They're just seeing whether we're serious, whether we're capable of taking on controversial issues.
“It's pretty clear to me, when I talk to a lot of people, they like what we're saying, they like what we're doing, but they're saying, ‘We just want to make sure you guys are serious.’
“So, I reckon the change will come but I'm perfectly happy with where things are at in terms of polling we're getting”.
The Greens, with new co-leader, James Shaw, will be happy with where they are polling.
They are up 3% to 13% party support.
New Zealand First is steady on 7%.
Those results would see National hold 57 seats in Parliament.
Labour would have 39.
The Greens would have 16 seats; giving a Labour-Greens coalition 55 seats.
New Zealand First would hold 8 seats, and it’s assumed the Maori Party, ACT, and United Future would win one seat each.
In the leadership stakes, John Key is still well out in front as preferred Prime Minister.
Even though he has dropped 4 points since May, John Key is clear favourite on 40%.
Andrew Little has slipped 1 point to 8%.
But he isn’t concerned, saying it’s within the margin of error.
New Zealand First leader, Winston Peters, is down 2 points to 7%.
Which leaves National out in front but with plenty to monitor in terms of voters’ economic pessimism.