- Date published:
6:35 pm, March 25th, 2015 - 113 comments
Categories: by-election, national, nz first, Politics, polls, winston peters - Tags: john key, northland by election, steven joyce, winston peters
The latest 3News/Reid Research poll confirms that voters are seeing this as a two horse race. And one of the two horses is decidedly lame. Winston Peters is on 54%, well ahead of National’s Mark Osborne (34%) and Labour’s Willow-Jean Prime is coming a distant third with 10%, with much of her vote clearly going to the NZ First leader. The previous poll had the numbers at 35/30/16.
National will be confident that the unusually high early voter turnout will give their man a solid base to win from. Peters, on the other hand, will be hoping that indications of a lift in late registrations can only be from voters who are seizing the opportunity to write Northland into the political history books.
While the early voting is up on the General Election, the key factor will be the turnout. By-elections tend to have low participation rates, unless there is something in it that energises voters. That something in Northland is a combination of years of neglect, a born to rule attitude and the local disgust at having Mike Sabin foisted on them by incompetence, ignorance or arrogance within the local National Party hierarchy. Whatever caused Sabin’s resignation, there is a palpable feeling that the local Nats either did know, or should have known, that he was not MP material.
Personality plays a part, too. John Key’s dismissive putdown that Peters didn’t have a show of winning might be one of the defining moments of his Prime Ministerial career. And not in a good way. Today, Key’s line is that National are the underdog. Woof! Down, boy!
Winston really does look like a winner. He makes his Tory opponent look like a nimrod plucked from obscurity (and destined to swiftly return there) every time he debates him. Osborne can’t win a trick even with Steven Joyce coaching him from the wings in every media appearance. ‘Hey, Clint!’ was a moment in time, as was Pam Corkery’s IMP outburst. This, however, is a month long lesson in how to stuff up a political contest. From candidate selection, through to the failed Key photo op and onto the desperate refusal to attend a live TV debate on the weekend, this has been a truly dismal campaign.
The biggest loser if the seat goes to NZ First won’t be Osborne or Key. It’ll be Joyce. Are the Nat’s still going to trust him to run the next general election campaign after this rout?