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ONE News Colmar Brunton Poll: Feb 2007

Published: 7:23PM Sunday February 18, 2007 Source: One News/Newstalk ZB

Prime Minister Helen Clark is brushing off the latest opinion poll showing Labour trailing National by seven points, but National leader John Key says the result is pleasing.

The ONE News/Colmar Brunton poll has National on 46% and Labour on 39%.

Clark says it is just one of several surveys she has seen over the past few weeks, some of which have Labour in front.

Key says it is a very pleasing poll, but adds it is just a starting point.  He has leapt to within striking distance of Clark as the person New Zealanders would prefer to run the country.

Key's claim of a growing underclass seems to have struck a chord with voters.  More than eight out of 10 people polled say there is such a problem in New Zealand but it is a problem far fewer believe the National Party could solve.

Out of the 1,000 eligible voters, 47% say National does not have the right policies to help low income New Zealanders, while 30% say they do.

"National has to change.  It has to change it's message so it proves to people it's connecting with a wide range of issues in our society and that we've got an answer and a solution to some of those problems," Key says.

Opinion is also divided over whether Labour has the solutions, with 42% giving the party's policies to deal with the underclass the thumbs up, but 45% the thumbs down.

And it gets worse, with six out of 10 people saying under Clark's government the size of New Zealand's underclass has grown.  Just 9% say it has gone down, while 23% say it has stayed the same.

"All I can say is look at what we're doing - I came into government to make a difference for people at the bottom of the ladder - I know we're making a difference," Clark says.

However, Clark is still the frontrunner in the leadership stakes on 32%, although Key is not far behind on 27%.  Lagging in third place is Winston Peters on 3%.

The Green Party, which has been riding the wave of concern about the environment, ranked in third place on 7% putting other minor parties well back.  The Maori Party is on 3%, New Zealand First still on 2% and Act and United Future both on 1%.

The ONE News/Colmar Brunton poll has a margin of error of +/-3.1%.

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