I’ve used Peter Green’s R code to generate an aggregated poll result from 01/01/2009 to today (without any bias correction) because it’s a useful way to think about the Labour leadership. (Always funny to look at the outliers, like that recent Roy Morgan that had Labour at 29%, and remember all the media hysteria about them.)
So we can see that yes, Shearer has gained in the polls relative to National, and hasn’t taken many – or any – voters off the Greens or New Zealand First, which is what you want to see. But his party is still only at the same point Goff was a year out from the election. All the way through Goff’s term as Labour leader ‘the bloggers’ kept pointing out that he was a walking disaster, and we kept hearing the same defenses we’re hearing today. ‘The polls will tighten. Helen Clark was unpopular at first. He’s a genuinely nice guy, etc.’ Then the election campaign kicked off, the general public started paying attention, they got a chance to see Goff, and him and his party tanked. To my mind that’s the risk of sticking with Shearer.
Cunliffe has his own problems – the egomania, the general weirdness – but he’s unlikely to fall to pieces in a debate against John Key.