Well, that was a let down. The much-hyped ‘cup of tea’ climaxed in Key saying that he would be voting for Goldsmith but he “wouldn’t be unhappy” if other Epsom voters back Banks. A double negative? Hardly a ringing endorsement. I think it’s too little, too late, for a man and a party that are too unpopular. All Key has done is tie his brand to extremists.
I think Banks is still going to go down in Epsom. The gap is just too big and the public perception of Banks is just too negative, while Goldsmith seems mostly harmless.
It is likely that National will bleed votes both to ACT and to Labour/the Greens because of this endorsement. Far righties will see ACT as more viable. Soft centrist votes will be turned off by the thought of Brash at the Cabinet table.
This is high stakes stuff. If ACT goes and Dunne loses too, as looks likely, National will be bereft of natural allies. And National’s support is tracking down to the point where it can’t govern alone. The Banks endorsement should only make that more likely.
What happens in this scenario? There would be no parties that would support its asset sales policy through Parliament, except perhaps the Maori Party, but that would require some kind of special offer to iwi that would gut National’s support.