Party leaders are planning one final push today to bag as many votes as possible before polling booths close tomorrow night at 7pm.
But Labour appears poised for its biggest share of the votes in over 30 years.
Whether it can govern alone will depend on whether its coalition and support partners, New Zealand First and the Greens, make it back to Parliament and in what numbers.
But Labour looks set to be back on the Government benches for a second term and overseeing the response of a looming economic crisis in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, with $12 billion of the Covid fund unspent or unallocated.
By 2pm yesterday 46 per cent of enrolled voters had voted early.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been Labour’s single most valuable asset and her management of crises has been the hallmark of her term in office.
Labour has been polling close to 50 per cent since Covid-19 was first detected in February, and polled insimilar numbers last year in the wake of the mosque massacre.
Last night’s Colmar Brunton poll if translated to votes would see Labour as by far the biggest party but needing another party, the Greens, to govern. New Zealand First would be out of Parliament.
The poll put Labour on 46 per cent (down 1 point), National 31 (down 1), Greens 8 (up 2), Act 8 (no change), and New Zealand First 3 (up 1).
The New Conservatives were on 2 (up 1), the Opportunities Party 1 (down 1), Advance NZ 1 (no change), and the Māori Party 1 (up 1).
The same poll showed Ardern’s popularity as Prime Minister rising in the last week by five points to 55 per cent and National’s Judith Collins down three to 20 per cent.
The pair clashed last night for the last time on TV1’s debate.
The highest share of the party vote Labour has received in any MMP election since 1996 has been 41.2 per cent in 2002 in its second term in Government – and closest it has got to its current polling of 46 per cent of 47 was in the second term of the David Lange Government in 1987 when it got 47.96 per cent.
Ardern spent yesterday visiting the cast and crew of the Mary Poppins musical in a bid to highlight the fact that New Zealand is among the only countries in the world with freedoms under Covid to stage a show.
Broadway, the West End and many of the world theatre districts are under Covid restrictions that don’t allow mass gatherings.
Much of the coverage of the closing days of the campaign have television images of Ardern being mobbed in shopping malls and universities.
She will visit several more malls in Auckland today and finish her campaign thanking Labour volunteers.
Judith Collins will thank party volunteers today, then take part in a human hoardings campaign on the North Shore.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters will finish his epic bus campaign of the country holding a rally in Whangarei, which has been a previous stronghold for New Zealand First votes.
The 3 per cent showing in last night’s 1News Colmar Brunton poll is the best his party has had since Covid and puts him within striking distance of the 5 per cent threshold.
But his party looks set to fall short and mark the end of an era.
The election campaign has at times seemed endless, mainly because it started then stopped with the second outbreak of Covid.
It was bookended with economic issues.
National’s fiscal plan had a $4 billion accounting error, the correction of which pushed out its debt-to-GDP target of 36 per cent out by a year.
And Judith Collins has campaigned relentlessly negatively against the Green Party’s wealth tax and her warnings that Labour could be forced to accept it in coalition talks.
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