Monday, September 28, 2020

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Judith Collins still has a chance to save her party

You know things are bad for a party when people start asking whether that party is in its death spiral yet. 

And that is the conversation around National now. 

This has been prompted by last night’s Newshub-Reid Research poll which puts it at 29.6 percent. It’s not far off the Colmar Brunton poll last Wednesday which had National at 31 percent, meaning it’s a fairly accurate reflection of where National is at. 

I don’t think we can answer this death spiral question just yet.  We need one more poll: tonight’s next one news Colmar Brunton poll. 

The reason I don’t think we can call a death spiral just yet is because the last poll we’ve got – which is last night’s putting National on 29 percent - was taken before Judith got the Crusher back.  The poll was conducted leading up to Wednesday last week.  Which means it caught all of the bad stuff: the weird coquettish Judith act and the several billion dollar fiscal hole revelation. 

But Wednesday things change a bit.  Judith Collins performed well in the TVNZ leaders’ debate which, as we’ve said, won’t have won her votes but might have stopped or slowed the voter exodus to ACT. 

Since then Crusher’s taken the fight directly to the Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, she’s gone into battle for National’s traditional voting base including farmers, she’s promised to repeal regulations including the Zero Carbon Act, and – some of us have noticed – Gerry’s been taken off some of the billboards.  The campaign seems to have changed tack. 

There are reports Judith is essentially going solo on the campaign now, taking less advice from Gerry and his team. And this is good.  Because their advice has led to a confused campaign where National seemed to lose its backbone, made bad strategic decisions and made big mistakes. 

It’s a good pivot, but does it show up in tonight’s poll?  If it does, National still has a change to save the furniture.  If it doesn’t, the death spiral becomes a real threat.

Heather du Plessis-Allan is a journalist and commentator who hosts Newstalk ZB's Drive show.

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