The National Party is on course to comfortably retain the Tauranga seat vacated by its former MP Simon Bridges, with a new poll suggesting candidate Sam Uffindell will cruise to victory in this month's by-election.
The Newshub Nation-Reid Research poll released on Saturday morning shows Uffindell is by far the preferred candidate in Tauranga, with 56.9 percent of the vote - a percentage that would eclipse the 42.8 percent Bridges achieved at the 2020 election.
Uffindell's closest rival, Labour MP Jan Tinetti, has lost support in the electorate, down from 35.5 percent at the 2020 election to 21.9 percent in this poll.
Meanwhile ACT candidate Cameron Luxton trails them both with 7.4 percent of the vote, up from 3.9 percent at the election.
While the poll results will be heartening for National and Uffindell, it should be noted nearly a third of those polled (31.4 percent) said they still didn't know or were undecided about which candidate they would vote for.
As for the party vote, there's a big swing away from Labour toward National in the Tauranga electorate.
The poll puts National at 51.5 percent of the Tauranga vote (up 19 percentage points), while Labour drops 14.1 percentage points - from 42 percent at the election, to 27.9 percent in this poll.
The Green Party is down from 5.5 percent to 2.8 percent - a drop of 2.7 percentage points. ACT fell from 8.95 percent to 7.1 percent, a 1.85 percentage point difference.
The Maori Party - who didn't run a candidate over concerns of racism in the electorate - is the only party other than National to have increased its share, surging from 0.35 percent at the election to 4.7 percent in this poll (an increase of 4.35 percentage points).
The poll also looked at how Tauranga locals' votes had changed since the 2020 election, when Bridges just edged out Tinetti to retain the seat.
It shows 63.3 percent of those who voted for Bridges are most likely to vote for Uffindell, with 21 percent still unsure, 5.6 percent voting for Luxton and 3.6 percent for Tinetti.
But Tinetti's supporters are slipping away. Those who voted for her at the election are fairly evenly split between voting for her again (49.9 percent) and choosing other options - 38.1 percent still don't know, 8.6 percent changed to Sam Uffindell, 2.2 percent said they won't vote and 1.2 percent are voting for Andrew Hollis of the New Nation Party.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced in April that the Tauranga by-election would take place on Saturday, June 18.
The announcement followed the shock resignation of former National Party leader Bridges, who stepped away from Parliament on May 6.
Bridges had held the Tauranga electorate since 2008 after beating New Zealand First leader Winston Peters by more than 10,000 votes. After over a decade as an MP, Bridges said he would be exploring "commercial opportunities" and "a media project or two" in the future.
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