Right; enough of the preamble; let's get down to it. The last poll for August (unless Roy Morgan reports today) has been released, and it is an absolute shocker for Labour. It's the Fairfax Media-Research International poll, and Tracy Watkins and Andrea Vance break it gently:
Voters appear to be deserting the Labour Party for the Greens as Phil Goff's election chances look increasingly hopeless.
The Greens have leapt to 11 per cent in today's Fairfax Media-Research International Poll – and their rise has come at the expense of Labour, which has slumped to 25.7 per cent.
With 86 days until the election, there are echoes of 2002 in the latest poll results.
That year National crashed to a disastrous 20.9 per cent vote on election night, with supporters panicked into voting strategically for the minor parties, particularly NZ First, after deciding Bill English had no hope of victory.
The Green Party's improved result in this poll shows the party may be benefiting from a shift in its position towards National. It had previously ruled out working with National in any sort of coalition deal.
The Greens now say that although a deal with National is "highly unlikely", they will not shut the door completely. But yesterday Green Party co-leader Russel Norman dismissed suggestions of tactical voting on the Left.
"Under MMP every vote counts ... people are feeling that they are voting for the Greens in a positive way."
The Greens will be over the moon with this result. They now only trail Labour by 14.7 percentage points. Two more months of 4 point swings from Labour to the Greens, and the unthinkable happens; the Greens become the major opposition party!
Someone will doubtless correct us if we have erred, but we reckon that this is probably Labour's worst poll result since the 2008 General Election. We recall that they slumped to 27% in July's One News poll, but we can't readily recall a lower poll rating than this for the Labour Party.
In the meantime, National's support has edged up another point to 57.1%, and could govern alone on these numbers quite easily. John Key of course has indicated that National will not govern alone, and that coalition partners will be sought no matter what the numbers say on election day.
And in the Preferred Prime Minister stakes it's just more of the same; read on:
Prime Minister John Key remains National's most potent weapon. He towers above Mr Goff in the preferred prime minister stakes, at 54.6 per cent to Mr Goff's 8.5 per cent. Mr Key appears to have cemented his popularity since the previous Fairfax-Research International poll a month ago, with the number of undecided voters down from 29.9 per cent to 22.5 per cent.
Phil Goff had to again defend his leadership yesterday. This time though, rather than being right-wing bloggers who are questioning him, it's hard-bitten political journalists. As Patrick Gower noted yesterday on 3News, the knives are coming out for Goff; from within. The late Sir Robert Muldoon used to say that a front-bench politician's biggest enemies were the ones beside and behind him, not the ones opposite, and that seems true for Phil Goff at present.
Anyway; those are the numbers; pleasing for National, fantastic for the Greens, and disastrous for Labour. Let the fun begin!