Mike's Minute: Poll shows National is now the underdog

Author
Mike Hosking,
Section
Video,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 19 February 2019, 10:26a.m.

COMMENT:

A new week, a new poll - and this one does a couple of reasonably important things. It confirms, to a degree, last week's poll which looked slightly ropey. So to an extent we have a bit of a trend.

Within a margin of error, both major parties are neck and neck-ish. It returns us, in many respects, to the days we haven't seen since Labour were last in government, the days in which they were a bona fide major party.

Do remember during the John Key years, Labour were reduced to a shambolic remnant of their former greatness as they suffered the demise of government, the realisation of opposition - and a series of calamitous leadership changes.

They were polling in the 20s. And when you're in the 20s, what could be your support wanders off elsewhere. In this case to National, who sat for most of their nine years in government in the very high 40s, in some polls even early 50s.

Do remember a couple of election nights ago, for a short time, before votes got readjusted, National came close to claiming an outright majority.

It always made sense that if Labour ever got its act together that vote would get re-energised and be available for movement. It would appear that has happened, and it would seem it has been the elevation of Jacinda Ardern that has been responsible for that success.

She has, almost single-handedly, made Labour relevant. She got them to the high 30s on election night, she enhanced that success with the weight of government, and topped up the support to where it once was.

Now, does that mean National are out, or in trouble? In a way, yes.

Not as a major party, on 42 per cent they're still a serious player, and their target of 47 per cent to get a good crack at government is still highly doable especially if things for this Government, like KiwiBuild, continue to plague them.

Add all that together, and Labour are in the box seat. So the big question for National is: is the real issue Simon Bridges or their lack of partners? I'd argue the latter. Bridges might not be ideal, and indeed I have said he isn't.

But getting cut-through as an Opposition leader is a nightmare. And if you want to criticise him, this is a Government that's provided plenty of material, they've got a long cock up list, and he's failing to make hay.

If politics is reduced to a few simple point-scoring zingers, and sadly mostly it is, Judith Collins might well get more traction. But that's usurped by the simple truth they're doing this largely alone, bar ACT, and they hardly count for anything.

Still it's February of the year before an election so no need to panic yet for National.

But two polls show how, I think pretty clearly, Labour is winning and National, for the first time in a decade have work to do and are the underdogs.

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