A new survey has found a "notable turnaround" in the political preference of small and medium business (SME) owners.
According to the General Election Snapshot Report, by the online business platform MYOB, Labour is now the leading preference of SME voters.
The MYOB snapshot is based on an online survey of 401 SME decision-makers conducted between July 20-24.
Ingrid Cronin-Knight, NZ country manager, says MYOB has been surveying the voting preferences of Kiwi SME owners and decision-makers since 2011, and since then SMEs have "always been a reliable voting block for the National Party".
Now, however, there's been a "change in the political environment".
"This is the fourth time we’ve polled SMEs in the run up to a New Zealand General Election and we haven’t seen results this close previously, nor have we seen such figures of support for Labour by business," Cronin-Knight said on Thursday.
"It’s likely that this sentiment toward the current Government has been generated by the recent support offered to SMEs to help them cope and survive in extraordinary circumstances. What counts most now are the initiatives and types of ongoing support these businesses will be offered as we continue to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and seek to drive economic recovery."
Despite the survey showing Labour as the new preferred party, Cronin-Knight said the margin between the two main parties was still "extremely tight", with 38 percent of respondents intending to vote for Labour, compared to 35 percent who picked National.
And while the proportion of respondents who intended to vote for National was down, the party has the most consistent support from its base, with 83 percent of those intending to vote for the party having also voted for them in 2017.
According to the snapshot:
- 38 percent intend to vote Labour
- 35 percent intend to vote National
- 5 percent intend to vote ACT
- 3 percent intend to vote Green
- 3 percent intend to vote NZ First
- 11 percent don't know who they'll vote for
The survey also showed that 45 percent of respondents believe the current Government should be reelected while 37 percent think it's time for a change.
SMEs working in professional services, retail and hospitality, and transport and storage were more likely to support the Government's reelection, while those in the construction and trades industry and manufacturing and wholesale sectors more likely to believe it was time for a change, the survey found.
Despite Labour's new popularity, the data showed that respondents still perceive National as the party that best understands business (37 percent compared to 33 percent for Labour).
Only 20 percent of respondents, regardless of what party they supported, said they believed the issues facing SMEs would receive sufficient attention during the election campaign.
Forty-seven percent said they believe some attention will be paid but not enough.