From NZPA, 15th July 1998
Labour is ahead in the latest One Network News-Colmar Brunton poll, up five points to 42 percent, while National has lost one point to 36 percent. The two parties were level-pegging, on 37 percent, in the June poll. In last night’s poll the Alliance was steady on 9 percent. ACT lost three points to 8 percent. New Zealand First dropped from 2.1 percent to 1.9 percent. The poll of 1000 voters was taken July 6-9, about the time of bad economic figures, news of the $300 million in spending cuts and confirmation that Japan was in recession. Undecided voters totalled 13 percent. In the preferred Prime Minister stakes, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley dropped two points to 29 percent and Labour leader Helen Clark rose from 17 percent to 21 percent. The coalition Government got a 76 percent disapproval rating compared with 72 percent in the June poll. – NZPA
So that was Clark led-Labour about eighteen months out from their victory in 1999.
I’ve updated the tracking poll, below; interactive version here. But what strikes me is how low Shearer is rating as preferred Prime Minister. 10.5% in the 3 News Reid Poll and 12% in the One News Colmar Brunton. About 30 points behind Key. I’m no political scientist, but I suspect electoral turn-out is lower when hardly any of your supporters want your leader running the country. As the archival story above suggests, contrary to received Labour Party wisdom, Clark wasn’t ‘single digits unpopular’ at this point in the electoral cycle.
(This aggregated poll written in R by Peter Green adjusts for poll bias: it looks at polls prior to the last election and the actual outcome of the election, adjusts it and then merges the adjusted results together.)