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National soars in new poll, as voters agree country is ‘on track’, Chris Hipkins crashes record low

Editor Written by Editor · 2 min read >

National leader Christopher Luxon has been gifted a favourable poll to start the new year. Photo / Marty Melville

Voters appear to have warmed to the Government over the summer break, with the first poll of the new year showing National breaking the 40 per cent threshold.

National hit 41 per cent in January, a massive jump from the 36.5 per cent it scored in the December poll.

It’s a first for this particular poll, which began in 2021, a particularly bad period for the party. The poll comes from Curia market research, which also conducts National’s internal party polling. It is comparable with the Taxpayers’ Union-Curia poll which has been paused over summer.

The last time a party polled above 40 in the poll was in February 2022, when Labour polled 42.3 per cent.

Now, Labour is static on 28.4 per cent. The Greens polled 9.5 per cent, down one point. Act rose from 6.3 per cent last month to 7.8 per cent in January. NZ First polled 5.6 per cent, down from 8.1 per cent last month. Te Pāti Māori fell to 3.6 per cent from 5 per cent.

Those scores would give National 51 seats, Act 10 seats, and NZ First 7 seats.

Labour would have 36 seats, the Greens would have 12, and Te Pāti Māori would have 6.

The poll has more bad news for Labour, with leader Chris Hipkins crashing 9 points as preferred prime minister, a new low for a Labour leader in this poll, opening up an 18-point gap with Christopher Luxon who was up one point to 31 per cent . Hipkins polled 35 per cent as preferred prime minister when he took over the job a year ago.

Luxon has overtaken Hipkins in the favourability stakes too, with a net favourability of 5 per cent, compared to Hipkins’ 3 per cent.

Favourability is comprised of polling how many people view a politician favourably and unfavourably. The unfavourable number is subtracted from the favourable number to give a net favourability ranking.

Luxon is more favoured than Hipkins, but also slightly more unfavoured. Forty-two per cent of people view him favourably, compared with 37 per cent who see him unfavourably.

The figures for Hipkins are 37 per cent and 34 per cent.

Act leader David Seymour has a favourability of -14 per cent, up from -19 per cent last month, and NZ First leader Winston Peters has a rating of -24 per cent – a huge improvement on last month’s rating of -36 per cent.

The poll registered another significant milestone: for the first time since February 2022, more people think the country is on the “right track” than the “wrong track”. A net 4 per cent of people say the country is heading in the right direction – a massive jump from December when a net 19 per cent of people believed the country was heading in the wrong direction.

That shows a massive course correction in public sentiment which had seen a net 42 per cent of people think the country was heading in the wrong direction by the middle of last year. It is still a long way off the heady days of January 2021 when a net 53 per cent of people believed the country was heading in the right direction.

National has opened up a lead with Labour on all major voting issues. Last month Labour was ahead on just one: health. Now, National is ahead on health, polling at 32.6 per cent as the party best at dealing with health issues, ahead of Labour which polled 30.9 per cent.

The largest lead was on the economy, where National polled 54.7 per cent, compared to 20.1 per cent for Labour – a massive reversal from 2021, when Labour once out-polled National on the economy.

The poll may just be registering a “summer bump”. It’s sometimes felt that people feel happier about the status quo after some time off at the beach over Christmas.

Whatever the cause, it will be welcome news to the National Party, which will gather this week in Christchurch for its caucus retreat, ahead of the political year starting in earnest.

The poll was taken between Monday, January 8 and Wednesday, January 10. It polled 1000 respondents, giving the poll a margin of error of 3.1 per cent.

Thomas Coughlan is Deputy Political Editor and covers politics from Parliament. He has worked for the Herald since 2021 and has worked in the press gallery since 2018.

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