Bryce Edwards aggregates various bloggers, pundits and journalists predicting that the tragedy in Christchurch would be ‘good’ for National in terms of polling and election results and there seems to be a conventional wisdom forming around this. I think it’s wrong for two reasons:
- There was no substantial movement in the government’s popularity after the September quake. Maybe we’ll see a post-event bounce but I doubt it will be sustainable. I think almost all of the swing voters in the country currently support National, so there isn’t much room to move.
- The severity of this earthquake will send the economy into a sharp recession for the rest of the year (probably the next few years). This will not go well for the government.
In these circumstances voters tend to drift towards non-ideological populist parties that play to people’s sense of anger and resentment, and in New Zealand that constitutes ACT and New Zealand First. Ordinarily Labour would gain from a poor economy under a National but the current leadership has no ability to persuade or attract voters. ACT are even more doomed in that respect. I’m picking that closer to the election we’ll see the government’s popularity decline and New Zealand First’s rise.