Bill English and Steven Joyce’s ruthless strategy appears to be thriving, as the drag race nears the finish line.
For a while now, the National Party strategy has been two-pronged. First, scare the living shit out of wavering voters over the economic credibility of the Labour Party. Second, stare sternly at old-school blue voters who have in recent times snuggled up with New Zealand First. For the former, see the all-out tax assault, the fiscal hole and the rest. For the latter, see the incessant references by Bill English to “drag race” and “clear choice”. In the last couple of days he’s been even more explicit. “Cut out the middle man,” he said yesterday. “You have a clear choice between Labour and National.”
So how’s that going for him? Bloody well, if tonight’s Colmar Brunton poll for 1News – its last before the election – is to be believed. The National Party has leapfrogged their rivals since the last poll for 1News, turning a four-point deficit into an amazing nine-point lead. And NZ First is seriously, seriously struggling, down to 5%, the threshold required without an electorate win, with Winston Peters far from guaranteed to retain Northland. Down to 5%, but still a critical 5%, which National would require on these numbers to form a government.
And you never know: if the trend were to continue, Peters to lose his seat and NZ First to drop below 5%, it could be edition #4 of National-and-bolt-on-support.
The Greens have recovered to 8%, but added to Labour that’s still just 45%.
For Labour, which has been increasingly furious at what they see as a scare campaign based on misinformation, the question is how to respond. Will Jacinda Ardern’s relentlessly positive approach transform into fire and brimstone in the TVNZ debate this evening?
More broadly, how does it all look then, with advance voting in full swing and election day touching distance? The Spinoff back-of-the-envelope average of the last four polls, taking in Reid/Newshub, Horizon, Roy Morgan, and this latest Colmar Brunton for TVNZ, looks like this:
NZ First: 7%
There is one more Reid/Newshub poll to go. Godspeed, New Zealand.