Heather du Plessis-Allan: The popular or polarising Prime Minister?

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 16 Nov 2021, 6:23PM
(Photo / File)
(Photo / File)

Heather du Plessis-Allan: The popular or polarising Prime Minister?

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 16 Nov 2021, 6:23PM

Here’s an interesting idea: I heard a political commentator this morning, on the radio, describe the Prime Minister as becoming a bit of a polarising figure.  

Isn’t that an interesting thought?  When you think back to the heights of Jacinda-mania at the 2017 election and, more recently, the huge amount of gratitude from kiwi voters at the start of the pandemic, it is a big shift to go from being widely adored to being described as becoming polarising, isn’t it?  

I’m not entirely sure she’s polarising.  Yet.  

Factually, the Prime Minister is still actually really popular. 

She had a preferred PM rating of 39% in last night’s 1News Colmar Brunton poll. 

In fact, it’s not far off where John Key was in his fourth year of being Prime Minister - he was 42-39%.  

So, her rating is nothing to be ashamed of. 

And then when you look at her net favourability, which is the people who like her minus the people who don’t’ like her, she’s still coming in at net 18% positive according to the Taxpayers’ Union Curia Poll.  

Again, that’s roughly where Key apparently was and most politicians would kill for a score like that.  

But I think we can all see she does a problem developing.  

In the polling, she has registered a massive increase in the number of people who dislike her or intensely dislike her in the last couple of months.  

The Curia guys found a lot of people shifting from feeling neutral to feeling dislike; And a lot of people shifting from dislike to intense dislike.  

The trouble for her is once people have gone that way it’s hard to get them back  

And you are probably seeing this is your life. More and more people are openly critical of Jacinda Ardern, bad mouthing her and making their frustrations at the Government's Covid blunders intensely personal and directed at her.  

It’s not hard to pick why this is happening.  

Jacinda’s brand is built on empathy and kindness and a good health based Covid response.  

Right now, she’s doing the opposite: she’s hardly showing Auckland she cares, she’s getting into scraps with media and this Covid response is now based on God-only-knows what. 

This is still rescuable I reckon.  The PM’s numbers are still good. She can shore it up.  But if she doesn’t, that commentator might get proven right and the popular PM becomes the polarising PM.