Christie wrote an excellent article on Saturday regarding the latest polls, so I won’t endeavour to cover the same ground. I do wish though, to support the main tenor of her article which is: while a quick glance at the polls reveals National has an uphill battle, all is not lost.

Several commentators have provided evidence as to why a National win is not out of the question. Richard Harman on Politik points out that, though the polls look dire, the Colmar Brunton poll showed the centre-right versus centre left-block is not unbridgeable in seven weeks. National and Act between them would need to win 11 per cent off the Labour-Greens vote. Harman says that sort of gain happened as recently as the last election. At the end of July Labour was polling at between 24 and 27 per cent. On election day it got 36.9 per cent of the vote; a gain of between 10 and 13 per cent.

David Farrar also took some positives for Judith from the Colmar Brunton poll. He looked first at her Preferred PM rating comparing it to other leaders in their first poll. He noted that apart from Ardern, Judith’s 20 per cent poll rating was well above other recent leaders. Farrar says even more encouraging is her approval rating as Opposition Leader. It was 56 per cent approval, 23 per cent disapproval for a net approval of +27 per cent. His point is that more people approve of her than are voting National and that provides an opportunity for National other leaders did not have.

The only parties, Farrar says, guaranteed to make it back to Parliament are Labour, National and Act so the hope is that National and Act can outpoll Labour. A big ask but, unlike Harman, Farrar calculates that they only need to take 8 per cent of the left vote. He says Labour will shed support but to whom? His scenarios are if Labour stays where they are or shed support to the Greens they win. If Labour shed support to National then it gets competitive. Farrar says the next poll will point to which is the likely scenario. This is likely to be after the campaign launches.

Then we have the analysis from our very own Cameron Slater who called the Tova O’Brien Newshub poll a rogue one. He was proven correct with the release of the Colmar Brunton poll a few days later. Cameron made the point that the Colmar Brunton poll points to Judith still being affected by the mostly self-inflicted dramas of National over the previous weeks. He says Labour’s numbers will slide once the campaign is in full swing. Also, he points out that David Seymour should be very pleased with the poll result and is getting the success he deserves for standing tall on firearms and free speech.

The figure that is disturbing is the 82 per cent trust that Ardern garnered in the Colmar Brunton poll. This was obviously specifically related to COVID as you can’t trust anything else that flows from between those pearly white teeth. I don’t have a great trust of politicians in general but Ardern would have to be among the least trustworthy of any. Judith got a 47 for 45 against figure which is perhaps a reflection that some still see her as somewhat of a polarising figure.

Kate Hawkesby noted that a 21 point gap is better than a 36 point gap. She says the big story of the polls lies with the minor parties. Act is the big winner on 5 per cent, its highest polling in 17 years. This time last year, she notes, it was on 1 per cent. The Greens are on the cusp and she says they won’t want to fall any further. According to Hawkesby nobody will be wincing more than Winston Peters and New Zealand First who have been completely eclipsed and are right down at 2 per cent support.

What to make of all this? Well, the positive is that all is not lost. It seems a big hurdle to jump but if anyone can, a thoroughbred like Judith can. The policies National have yet to roll out must be positive to contrast with the negative and visionless ones from the Government. At the end of the day, it will be about the economy and the initial post COVID bounce in spending will not last. Ask the retailers at Commercial Bay. Foot traffic does not pay the rent and other overheads. On the economic front, National must point to their handling of the earthquakes and the GFC as a reminder of their economic strengths. Their policies must reflect that they are better economic managers.

It is important that, like Judith, we project an upbeat state of mind between now and the election. Judith needs to know that we have her back just as she told the young Palmerston North candidate that National has his back. A week is a long time in politics. There are about seven left for Judith to make further inroads. Cameron says she will. It’s a brave person who would argue with Mr Slater.

Above all, it’s important to keep the faith.


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