I think by now you’ll have noticed there’s a fairly strong consensus that Judith Collins won last night’s debate.
Might not have delivered a knockout blow, but she certainly out-performed jacinda ardern.
So then, what does that mean for National’s chances at the election?
Quite a lot, actually.
It’s not necessarily going to win over voters. I hardly think there’ll be a huge horde of Labour voters out there who decide to switch to national on the strength of that debate.
But what last night did was put a full stop – for now – on the sense that National is fumbling its way to a massive clobbering.
That party has just been delivering fail after fail, inducing the several billion dollar budget hole. And Judith Collins herself has been disappointingly meek in this campaign.
And that’s led, as we’ve seen in the polls, to attrition to ACT. Some voters had decided it’s all over for National and headed to ACT. And last night Judith Collins needed to stop that from continuing or accelerating.
She needed to give them a reason to stick around, and she did that.
She brought out just enough mongrel by calling out Jacinda Ardern’s so-called ‘nonsense’, without being mean. She came to the defence of traditional National voters like farmers and small businesses. And she even showed a soft side, looking directly down the camera to answer those people who’d pre-recorded those questions.
I think Jacinda Ardern’s strategy was to rise above Judith Collins and not engage in a direct debate - the point being to look prime ministerial - but it didn’t really work. It just looked flat.
Last night was unbelievably high stakes for Judith Collins. If she’d done badly, it would’ve sent National voters away in droves potentially.
Instead, she might’ve given them hope. Just enough hope to stick around or delay abandoning National for just a little bit longer.
And by the way, isn’t it nice to have Crusher back?