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Election 2023

What Do the Polls Tell Us?

Silvereye's key takeaways from recent polls and what they could tell us about New Zealand's 2023 General Election.


5th October 2023

“Winston is back”

At the outbreak of WW2 the Royal Navy flashed the message “Winston is back.” New Zealand’s media should follow 84 years later. Winston Raymond Peters and NZ First is solidly back over the five-percent threshold in six polls covering a calendar month.


This comeback kid of New Zealand politics is set to pin a bar onto his political medal as the only list only party to exit Parliament and bounce immediately back. First in 2011 and now the sequel is projected for 2023. This is no surprise. Winston has been packing halls for the past two years.


NZ First is over the threshold again  in the latest 1 News Verian Poll released 4 October. This has now been the case in six consecutive major polls. So, we are calling it - NZ First is back.

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Swiping right is NZ First’s only option

The past seven polls show no route for Labour to cobble together a coalition with the Greens and Te Parti Māori (TPM). Adding in NZ First does not help. Mathematically the closest would be a hung parliament guaranteeing another election. Politically it’s a non-starter with diplomatic relations with Labour non-existent and so are relations with the Greens and TPM. Swiping right makes it three parties with much closer alignment, a solid working majority and scope for NZ First’s reinvention.

Could Act and National get there without NZ First?

On the Silvereye Poll of Polls, Act and National are projected to win 61 seats and a one-seat majority. Remember, it is the party vote that determines the size of Parliament. If, for arguments sake, TPM won all Māori Seats then Parliament would simply expand to maintain proportionality. This is known as an overhang.


Christopher Luxon is astute enough to know that a supply in confidence agreement as a minimum, or a proper coalition with Act and NZ First, would give him options. More so as Act’s 12% result from the last One News poll in September and the 8.8% for Newshub preceding it, appear outliers. Act is probably closest to 10% meaning Luxon needs Peters and vice-versa.


Based on party vote only save for TPM, which assumes at least 1 seat entitling it to 3 MPs. Any more electorates than this creates an "overhang," whereby, Parliament grows in the number of list MPs to maintain proportional representation. 

Labour and ‘the ghost of
Covid 19, past’

Chris Hipkins has had a pretty good campaign when after nailing the Newshub leader’s debate, along came Covid-19 to add a distraction to this campaign. Far from ideal having to self-isolate just as early voting kicks off. Worse, it drags back into current memory lock downs. Especially in Auckland, where this election is won or lost. Another twist on this is that more conservative Labour supporters may see no route for Labour and park their votes with NZ First to handbrake National and Act. The more National and Act talk down Peters, the more they talk up Peters to Labour inclined voters; if NZ First is bad for National/Act, then it must be good for Labour. The good news for Labour is that it didn’t go backwards. The bad news being they did not go forward either and remain between the devil and a deep blue sea.

From the polls a National-Act Government with a supply and confidence agreement involving a resurrected NZ First seems likely. Then again Australia demonstrates that polls may not always call it right for what happens on election day. Chris Hipkins still has the fight in him and Labour are lifting their energy. A week is a long time in Politics so strap in, this is likely to get rather bumpy.

‘The Longest Day’ beckons for Labour

In New Zealand political history there have been two one term governments and one two term government; all Labour. 2023 is projected to add a second two-term Labour government to that list. Remarkable given 2020, when Labour became the first majority government since 1993 and the first ever under MMP designed to prevent just that. Much attention will be on the three polls due out this week culminating in the final One News poll next week. 2023 could mark the biggest implosion in Labour’s popular support since the 1975 “Rob’s Mob” landslide removed a one term Labour government.

Election Night could become Survivor, Labour Party Caucus

On the rolling Poll of Polls Labour would be entitled to 34 seats but with potentially 26 electorate Members of Parliament on our calculation, that would leave just eight list places. This would see the Hon David Parker return, but not the Hon Peeni Henare should he lose his electorate to TPM. Even the Hon Nanaia Mahuta, the Foreign Minister, is under pressure from TPM despite a 9,000+ majority. One poll this week had her just 4% ahead but 14% undecided. With no list position, she would be ousted from Parliament should she lose.

On current the Poll of Polls, the following Ministers in marginal seats would need to win them to return to Parliament:

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Interesting electorate contests to look out for on election night:

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Key takeaway:

A change of government is strongly signalled on the rolling Silvereye Poll of Polls, which projects Act and National with a one-seat majority but the trend is towards needing NZ First.


A low turnout could see Labour suffer a very bad night as they’ve “lost the dressing room” with the public now switched off.  Look to the Māori electorates and TPM for how bad this could be while the Greens hoover up those on the left. Worse, Labour centrists could tactically vote for NZ First to unleash Winston upon Messrs Luxon and Seymour.  A quarter of Ministers are at risk of exiting Parliament.


On the right, National is holding but has potential to grow to the high 30’s but a result with a ‘4’ seems beyond them, unless that is, Labour support turns turtle.  Act is likely to solidify around 10%, which is considerably higher than 2020, but a dampener on how things we’re shaping up in August.  Tamaki could be a ray of sunshine or a metaphor for missed chances.


A National-Act Government with a supply and confidence agreement involving a resurrected NZ First seems likely. Then again, a week is a long time in Politics so strap in, this is likely to get rather bumpy.

Silvereye Communications 5 October 2023 

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