When you are deeply immersed in a local campaign sometimes it can be difficult to see the helicopter view. I don’t know how accurate the political polls are and have always known that things can change quickly in politics anyway (I campaign managed Jim Anderton’s mayoral campaign in 2010 that went from a 30% poll lead to a 15% election loss in the space of four weeks! This is probably some kind of record). I was also a candidate back in 2002 when Labour’s support dropped 10% in the space of a few weeks after Seeds of Distrust was released.
What I do know on the ground in Christchurch Central is that there has been a marked shift in momentum towards Labour. Until the past few weeks there has been a larger than usual group of undecided voters (mostly former Labour voters or non voters who were unsure about Labour). This particular group is now moving from being undecided to saying they will vote Labour.
I don’t think you can put your finger on any one reason for that momentum shift. Labour had a successful congress and announced a positive education policy. And a successful campaign launch where we announced a positive health policy. And a series of popular policies in between. Cunliffe has been articulating those policies incredibly well. Labour is running a positive campaign with a positive (literally) slogan. And Labour is running one of the most impressive and sophisticated ground operations I’ve seen (and I volunteered on Obama’s 2008 campaign in Pennsylvania).
The momentum shift was underway before Dirty Politics was released. But that too is cementing in the momentum shift. Despite the pleas to the contrary Dirty Politics is an election issue because it raises questions about how we conduct our politics. Elections are about trust, they are about moral and ethical leadership, they are about the kind of country we aspire to be, they are about what we value as a country.
If the rest of the country is heading the same way as the momentum shift we’re seeing in Christchurch Central, Labour will lead the next Government.