Tracy Watkins is still stuck in denial:
What, already? John Key yesterday’s man?
Today’s headline news, tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapper it seems. The cult of personality reigns in this new world order but we Kiwis seem to be refreshingly above all that.
We really aren’t.
John Key was staggeringly popular during his eight years as prime minister.
He really wasn’t, see below.
But he’s already yesterday’s man, according to the latest One News Colmar Brunton poll.
Key’s ranking as preferred prime minister slumped to just 2 per cent. His successor, Bill English, picked up almost where Key left off, slotting in at 31 per cent.
True, preferred PM rankings can reflect the power of incumbency – but not always. Key overtook Helen Clark as preferred PM more than a year before the 2008 election that turfed her out of power. Conversely, Clark continued to rate highly even after her departure.
Clark was obviously more genuinely popular with her fans, Key’s “popularity” (preferred PM ranking) in his later years just reflected his incumbency, witness the fact that it has largely transferred to the previously invisible new incumbent.
Max Rashbrooke does us all a favour by digging in to the truth of Key’s “popularity”:
Data shows dramatic decline in Key’s popularity
It’s become received political wisdom that John Key was a superhumanly popular politician, someone without parallel in modern history, an unmatchable asset for the National Party while he was its leader.
Not so, it turns out. Data from polling firm UMR, which has been referred to previously but not as far as I know published, shows that Key was no more popular than his predecessor, Helen Clark, and that his popularity took a massive dive over the last year of his reign – which may help explain his resignation in December.
The claims about Key’s success rest on his ‘preferred prime minister’ rating, which did indeed remain stratospheric. But the preferred prime minister ranking was relative: it asked people how much they liked Key compared to the alternatives. Because no one was ever very excited about the alternatives (Phil Goff, David Shearer, David Cunliffe and Andrew Little), Key’s ranking looked good.
But UMR has for years now asked a different, more straightforward question: do you have a favourable or unfavourable view of the prime minister?
The results, in the graph above, are striking. The dark red line at the top is Clark’s favourability rating; the dark blue line is Key’s. (The lighter coloured lines at the bottom are the natural inverses, their unfavourability ratings.)
What it shows is that, throughout their reigns, Clark often had a better favourability rating than Key – even in her last term when, according to received wisdom, everyone had fallen out of love with her. …
So much of political “received wisdom” is self-perpetuating media myths.