But what the poll also reveals is that any slump in National’s support could see the situation rapidly change, because of the state of its likely allies. The ACT party, on 1.2 per cent support, needs John Banks to win Epsom to have any hope of making it into Parliament – and that is by no means assured, according to some polls.
The Maori Party, which has governed with National, is in disarray – and facing a three-way challenge in the Maori seats that could see it return to Parliament with fewer MPs than its current four.
Labour, on the other hand, is shored up by support to its Left for the Greens, who remain the only minor party with a sizeable share of the vote. At 9.7 per cent support their vote, combined with Labour’s, puts the Left on 41 per cent, still 11.6 points behind National and a long way from forcing an upset.
Winston Peters and his NZ First Party, on 1.5 per cent, appear to have no hope of returning to Parliament.
What is particularly interesting about this poll is that the sampling period began the same day that Labour announced its “bombshell” retirement policy. It usually takes a while for the full impact of events to appear in polls, but I think it is safe to say from this one that once again Labour has survived taking on an issue that conventional wisdom said was “electoral suicide”. Fortune favours the brave?