Claire Trevett: PM’s drop in popularity will not worry her as National stays off its foils


The dramatic America’s Cup race just before the latest 1 News Colmar Brunton poll provided the reason National Party leader Judith Collins will survive as leader for a wee while yet.

Collins dropped into the death zone in the poll, falling back below the 10 per cent mark as preferred Prime Minister. National had only made minimal traction against Labour in the party vote.

They are numbers an enthusiastic challenger could use to roll her, despite the very small lift in National’s party support in the same poll.

The reason there are no enthusiastic challengers is because nobody wants to take over the boat when it is off its foils and there is precious little in the way of a wind coming to lift it up again.

So Collins will be left in peace until the winds start to blow for National again: once the inevitable navel-gazing from National’s election review is over, and after MPs have seen how voters respond to the ongoing drag that is Covid-19.

There was some hope for National that the winds could one day come for it again, in the drop in form for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Ardern dropped a massive 15 points as preferred Prime Minister, down from 58 to 43 per cent.

That drop will not overly upset Ardern: her previous rankings in the giddy days after the election were never sustainable and Labour still has enough support to be able to command a majority on the poll results.

Ardern has dropped from stratospheric to excellent: the result of a period in which Auckland was thrown into lockdown, out of lockdown and then back into lockdown over a small handful of cases.

But it does show the Government’s Covid-19 response is no longer as immune from scrutiny and criticism a year into the pandemic.

The question then is which party is best placed to take advantage of the winds that creates for them: and National is jostling with Act to do that.

Act is yet to lose any of the support it gainedlast year, and its leader David Seymour is polling a healthy four per cent as preferred Prime Minister: higher than any National Party contender other than Collins.

Seymour has played a canny game over the Covid-19 response while National has struggled to hit the right tone until recent months.

It will be hoping the small nudge in support is a sign it is doing something right.

Monday’s America’s Cup race in which first Team NZ and then Luna Rossa dropped off their foils, giving first one boat and then the other seemingly unassailable leads was also a warning of the similarly fickle nature of politics.

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