National leader Christopher Luxon. Photo / Mark Mitchell
A new poll shows more people are making up their minds about National’s leader Christopher Luxon nine months since he took over as leader – and while he might have won over National’s base, not all those who were on the fence like what they see.
In the 1 News Kantar Public poll, 46 per cent of voters approved of the way Luxon was handling his job – up from 42 per cent in January – but the number who disapproved had risen from 20 per cent to 31 per cent over the same period.
That meant his net approval rating (the difference between those who approve and disapprove) dropped from 22 in January to 15 and is now the same as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s.
However, that is the lowest net rating Ardern has had since October 2019 – her approval scores are well down on the highs she saw during the Covid-19 response in 2020 and have slipped consistently since then.
53 per cent approved of Ardern’s performance as Prime Minister, close to her January result of 52 per cent. The number who disapproved of her performance had increased slightly to 38 per cent – a higher disapproval score than Luxon.
Only nine per cent did not give a view on Ardern. While her approval levels are still high, the plateau indicates her return to the international stage and decision to scrap almost all Covid-19 restrictions at home have not compensated for the hard slog of winter.
The polling company noted that 37 per cent of people had not given a view on Luxon in January, nearly two months after he became leader. That number had dropped to 23 per cent as people drew their conclusions – but “negative sentiment towards him has increased at a faster rate than positive sentiment.”
Asked if it was concerning those people were deciding against him, Luxon said he was still new to politics and was up against “career politician,” Ardern.
“I’m new, I’m up against a 14-year career politician and I’ve got a big, long job interview ahead of me in the next year. I’m doing my job which is to lead and prepare a team for Government.”
Ardern put that down to the “tough times” New Zealand had been through – but hoped for more “optimistic” times ahead.
“It’s been a tough few years, but I feel really confident in the fact we’ve maintained support at the level we have and I personally have too, given how tough it has been.”
The poll showed men were more likely to approve of Luxon than woman – 54 per cent of men said they approved of his performance.
Luxon said he was happy with the poll overall, which put National on 37 per cent and in a position to form a Government with Act – but only just.
He said the progress since he took over as leader was “really incredible.”
“We’ve pulled the team together, that’s what I’m there to do as leader is to make sure we’re building a team that can turn the country round and get into government.”
Luxon has suffered from a range of misspeaks in his role, and contended with allegations of bullying by his new MP Sam Uffindell, who was recently reinstated to caucus after a report by Maria Dew KC found claims about him at university could not be substantiated.
The poll of 1001 eligible voters was taken from September 17 to 21, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 per cent.