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National well ahead but Labour survives scandal

Published: 6:21PM Sunday April 10, 2011 Source: ONE News

Labour has confounded expectations and escaped largely unscathed from the Darren Hughes sex scandal.

The latest ONE News Colmar Brunton poll, taken after the MP's resignation, shows Labour and its leader have risen in the polls, although they still remain well behind National.

National is up three points on 54%, while Labour is up one to 34%, as the Greens drop a little to 6%. New Zealand First had been rising but drops back to 2.7%, and the Maori Party (1.4%) and Act (1.1%) barely feature.

If this was election day National would have 67 seats, and with their current coalition partners - the Maori Party (5), Act (1) and United Future (1) - they would have a massive majority.

Labour would have 42 seats and even with the Greens (8) and the Progressive Party (1) they don't get close to governing.

New Zealand's love affair with John Key continues to flourish and he's the preferred Prime Minister for 55% of voters. Phil Goff is on just 11% but that's up four points and is his highest rating as Labour leader. NZ First leader Winston Peters is steady on 3%.

But if voters are happy with the government it's not because they think the economy is doing well. Back in February 48% thought the economy would get better and just 32% thought things would get worse, now just 38% are positive about the economy and 45% think it will get worse, while the rest think it will be about the same.

ONE News political editor Guyon Espiner said as in the case of maverick MP Chris Carter, Goff's dealing with a troublesome MP prompted a flurry of media attention but his numbers did not go down.

Espiner said this would be a huge relief for Labour, but concern will be mounting at the figures showing the party is 20 points behind six months out from the election, at a phase when the public is very concerned about the economy.

"Labour will be relieved that the Darren Hughes saga has had no impact on its party vote.

"This will also give Phil Goff a boost given many commentators predicted his demise after his handling of the incident. The brutal truth does remain though that Mr Goff's is still only getting a fifth of the support John Key."

The poll of 1000 voters was taken over April 2-6 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1%.

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