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Ron Mark well behind in crucial Rimutaka

Nov 7th, 2008 | By | Category: Latest News, News

IT MAY be all over for New Zealand First – unless Ron Mark can pull in those still making up their minds.

This is the finding of a NewsWire telephone poll of nearly 400 people in the Rimutaka electorate yesterday and today.


Only 12% named Mr Mark as their choice, but 34% of the 364 who agreed to take part say they are undecided.


But the undecided say they do intend to vote in the previously rock-solid Labour seat, which may be crucial for New Zealand First’s chances for getting back into parliament.


With Tauranga looking out of reach for a Winston Peters return, Mr Mark has been tipped as the party’s best hope of a return – and possibly saving the Labour government.


Of the people who have decided, the competition is fierce, with Labour’s Chris Hipkins the preferred candidate for 22% of voters, while National’s Richard Whiteside was the choice of 19%.


This time around, the combination of a new candidate and intensive campaigning from both National and New Zealand First means the race is much closer.


Mr Whiteside says the NewsWire figures are fairly close to his own polling.


“Our polling shows that I’m ahead of Hipkins,” he says.  “The Ron Mark figure is just about bang on.”


Mr Whiteside has been happy with local press coverage of the election, but says it is frustrating that Ron Mark is able to talk up his chances in the national media, when National candidates are not permitted to: “The Upper Hutt Leader was just about a National paper last week.”


He says the race is close because of boundary changes in National’s favour, the retirement of popular Labour MP Paul Swain, and his own hard work.


“I’ve worn through two pairs of shoes knocking on doors.”


The Greens’ Lynette Vigrass was the only other candidate to score significant numbers in our poll, attracting 6% of the vote.


Our telephone survey of 477 people asked voters in the Rimutaka electorate which candidate – rather than party – they preferred.


Twenty NewsWire reporters used the Wellington phonebook to call voters from between 3pm and 9pm on November 6, and 10am and 11am on November 7.


Of the 477, 113 people refused to take part, and 26 have decided not to vote.


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is a student journo who loves to write. Her interests, apart from media slavery, include social justice, music, sports and gardening. Preferably a combination of all four. She doesn't know yet what she wants to be when she grows up.
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