If you're Phil Goff, or a member of his caucus, the news this morning isn't good. Yes; the gap is closing. But unfortunately the only gap that is closing is the one between Labour and the Greens, and even that's not going in Labour's favour.
The Fairfax Media/Research International poll surveyed 1000 people between Tuesday last week, and this Monday, November 7th. It's a current a poll as one can get. Under the headline National heading for outright win here's Stuff's take on it (given that they commissioned it, together with a graphic of what's happened in the last week:
National is looking unstoppable on its way to a historic outright election win as Labour plunges in a Fairfax Media-Research International Poll.
The poll has National on 52.5 per cent, and Labour sliding to 25.9 per cent, 17 days from the election.
Labour would lose 10 seats if those results were repeated on election night, while National would get nine extra seats, and bring in a slew of new faces.
The Green Party has profited most from Labour's slump, rising to 12.6 per cent in today's poll – which would give it seven more seats in Parliament and nine new faces because of retirements.
National has barely slipped below 50 per cent in any public poll since it took power in 2008 – except for a period in mid-2010 when it announced a rise in GST. It dropped to 49 per cent in two consecutive polls.
With no minor party other than the Greens polling above single figures, it would take a dramatic turnaround in Labour's fortunes in the final two weeks of the campaign, or an even bigger boost to the Green Party, for National to slip below 50 per cent.
This is a woeful result for Labour; a 5.4% percentage point drop in just seven days; that translates to a 17.25% drop in support in just a week, at a time in the political cycle where the gap traditionally closes.
It would seem as though the 2011 General Election is going to be anything but a traditional one. The pundits are now even starting to talk of National doing the MMP impossible; read on:
A 50 per cent-plus win would be historic – no single party has won an outright majority under MMP, and the last time any party won more than 50 per cent of the vote was in 1951.
But National Party insiders are talking down that likelihood for fear voters will be turned off by the prospect of handing power to a single-party government and Prime Minister John Key has said he will do deals with minor parties regardless.
It's pretty obvious that last week did irrepairable harm to Phil Goff and Labour's campaign. "Show me the money" has stuck in the minds of voters, who appear not to be convinced by the release of Phil's Spreadsheet on Friday, midway through the polling period.
Can Labour recover from this blow?