By John Pagani*
When asked which party had a better plan to fix the economy, only 17 per cent of those surveyed nominated Labour - and even among its own supporters, just 48 per cent were convinced.
National was rated by 49 per cent of voters as having the better plan, with the number of its own supporters convinced by National's plan coming in significantly higher at 81 per cent.
There's a number that Labour has to overturn. The numbers won't come as a huge surprise to Labour insiders, but what is interesting is what's behind the numbers.
Probably not this:
''The people polled have no grip on reality at all.''
- National Distribution Union president Robert Reid
Ai yi yi.
Yet people objectively don't support asset sales or the GST - income tax changes, and they prefer capital gains tax to the alternative. What's going on?
Predictable commentary has piled on Phil Goff. These economy numbers are possibly even more awkward for David Cunliffe. I don't believe it's about personalities.
To put it another way, if you shuffled people around, would voters suddenly decide Labour was ahead at fixing the economy? No.
Four factors are contributing, in descending order of importance:
1. People fundamentally accept the narrative about John Key's rags to riches story, and impute if he can do it for himself he might do it for the country somehow.
2. Expectations for what a government can do in the prevailing global conditions are exceptionally low, and the priority is not to muck things up. National hasn't run amock in the economy - a relief heightened by Labour's previous warnings.
3. Voters perceive competence managing crises, including Christchurch and the Pike River mine; and suppose that if they can do that, they can do the economy.
4. Labour's positioning is all mostly policy, not about narrative. Therefore its story is not really answering a question on voters' minds. Take the capital gains tax - it answers questions a lot of analysts have about what they're going to do to change the economy's structure, and about the credibility of spending promises. Those aren't quite the same questions voters are asking.
Only one of these factors is under Labour's control. That's why the common commentary that it's about personalities or competence doesn't stack up. The hard part is that the party has to overcome the perceptions in 1-3 without telling people they're wrong.