- Date published:
10:19 am, March 6th, 2015 - 204 comments
Categories: by-election, labour, national, nz first, Politics, vote smart, winston peters - Tags: national, northland, winston peters
The first published poll on the Northland by-election is grim reading for National Party strategists. 3 News have Winston Peters on 35%, National’s Mark Osborne on 30% and Labour’s Willow-Jean Prime on 16%. I understand these numbers are broadly similar to polling conducted by UMR for Labour just prior to the announcement of National’s surprise selection of Far North District Council’s Asset Manager Mark Osborne ahead of the more fancied dairy farmer Grant McCallum.
However, the difference between Labour’s polling and the TV3 result is fascinating. Before Osborne was picked Labour’s polling suggested National were just ahead of NZ First. The TV3 result a few days later suggests that by putting Osborne up, the Tories have lost ground. National are snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
TVNZ have been polling during the week and presumably we will have the result on the weekend. If that poll confirms that Winston is in the lead, then the momentum will continue to swing his way. Undecided voters will see the poll lead as a confirmation that it’s worth voting for the upset. Labour voters may also decide that Willow-Jean Prime cannot win and switch to Winston Peters. If that happens to any great extent, then those calling for Labour to pull out of the race even after the close of nominations can happily move on. It’s not going to make a difference.
National have it all to do and they have to do it without their talismanic leader. Key will be overseas for much of the campaign so it’s up to their team up North to do the heavy lifting. Mind you, with Key making laughable statements such as saying that Mike Sabin had been ‘doing a good job’ before his resignation, they may be better off without him.
Osborne, too, will also have questions asked of him about what he knew about Sabin. As a senior Nat in the Far North voters might feel he could or should have been aware of the rumours swirling around the MP. The feeling that National knew something was awry but chose to turn a blind eye is widespread in the electorate. Nobody likes being conned and Key’s evasive answers about what he knew and when he knew it just adds to the disquiet in the Far North.
At least the Prime Minister is clear about one thing; the risk to the Government if Northland falls:
“It’s not really about Winston Peters, it’s about National being able to carry out its mandate.”