Shall we give balance a bit of a crack on the old polling?
I have never really understood the preferred Prime Minister part of polling. We don't elect Prime Ministers; we can't vote for them. So beyond stoking a bit of rumour and scuttlebutt, whether Judith Collins is on 6%, 16% or 86% doesn't make an awful lot of difference.
The same way David Seymour being second only to Jacinda Ardern really isn't a reason you would or wouldn't vote for ACT.
The real story of the last handful of polls is not so much whether National are in the doldrums, or not. The fact last night's Colmar Brunton has them at 26% is a good indication that the Curia poll that had them at 21% might not be accurate. The same way ACT’s so called dramatic rise of five points isn't really, given it just catches them up to the number every other poll has them at. That's somewhere in the mid-teens.
A collection of polls is what you are looking for so we can see trends. And there are two very distinct trends, only one of which the bulk of the media have picked up on.
Trend one is ACT. They are hot and deservedly so. They are sharp, smart and full of ideas. They are getting the attention and results they deserve. Some of that is coming at the expense of National, who remain unable to find the ignition key. But add the centre right's numbers together and the total is 40% and growing. That is what you look at, that is what forms a government in an MMP environment.
Trend two, conveniently ignored by too many, is of course the slide of Labour. 43% is still a decent number, but it's not what it was or anywhere near close. Each and every poll they have dropped and that is a trend. The tide is going out and it's doing so for fairly obvious reasons.
You can't have the record of dysfunction and non-delivery they have, and not suffer. The Covid vote of last year is history. They will never have that level of support again.
In that, lies the trouble. As normality in voting patterns returns, their record, not fear, will drive support, or lack of it.
Obviously, at 43% and the Greens on 8% they are still in government. But they have lost their majority. Plus, the current numbers including the Greens barely gets them across the line any longer.
Time and performance kill governments. Focus all you want on National, give all the plaudits you like to ACT, but the slippage and demise of the Labour support is your real story, and their real worry.