With National now in danger of losing power, it is stepping up its fund raising.
Invitations have gone out for a dinner with Bill English next week in Auckland at a price of $17,900 for a table of ten.
Party President Peter Goodfellow told POLITIK that there was nothing unusual about the invitation; dinners with former Prime Minister John Key had been priced at a similar level.
But two corporate affairs managers spoken to by POLITIK recalled paying $10,000 a table last election, not $17 900.
However, it is tangible evidence that the party which has been coasting along confident of victory while Labour was polling in the mid 20’s has now been jolted by the so-called Jacinda effect.
Last night’s One News Colmar Brunton poll showed National on 44% which is near where the party’s own polling apparently has it.
But that’s down three per cent on Colmar Brunton’s last poll.
And it looks like that support has gone to Labour who are up 13% to 37%.
In the process, the Greens have been all but decimated down 11% to four per cent, below the 5% threshold required to get back into Parliament.
National’s pollster, David Farrar, pointed out on Twitter last night that the Greens on average poll about .7% less than their Colmar Brunton ratings – that would suggest they could end up nearer three per cent.
The problem for Labour is that any poll by the Greens under five per cent makes it easier for National to form a Government because of the so-called wasted vote effect which means that the Greens vote is deducted from the total vote pool thus making the size of 50% of that pool smaller.
But all day yesterday as rumours about the poll circulated around Wellington, talk turned to how this might effect the formation of any Government.
The big “what if” relates to Winston Peters and NZ First.
And though he is adamant he won’t even begin to negotiate until the writs are returned on October 12, people close to him are beginning to believe that he would prefer to go with Labour.
There is also a question mark about the Maori Party.
Since their president, Tukuroirangi Morgan, told POLITIK that the party membership was leaning towards Labour there has been a stream of statements from Maori Party candidates questioning Government policies.
The party’s Tainui-Hauraki candidate, Rahui Papa commenting on an RNZ investigation into poverty in Manurewa said: “ We heard sad, sad stories of homelessness, overcrowded houses, the impact of synthetic drugs, and the desperate measures some people have to take in order to raise money for the most basic of needs – to feed their children milk and bread.
“The story reminded us all that there are some very real issues that we need to address.”
To add to National’s problems, another recent poll showed that United Future’s Peter Dunne might not win Ohariu.
Based on last night’s figures, both parties would find it hard to form a Government.
National plus ACT and the Maori Party would have exactly 60 seats — Labour would have 47 and would, therefore, need NZ First’s 13 seats to get to 60.
But 60 would not be enough in a 120 seat house.
Thus National might hope that Dunne could come back; otherwise, they would need a deal with NZ First.
Labour would need a deal with the Maori Party but how they would balance NZ First (which opposes the Maori seats and Maori preference in legislation like the Resource Management Act) with the Maori Party would be a challenge.
What this shows as the party leaders head to Auckland on Sunday to launch their campaigns is that election is evenly balanced.
One senior National official told POLITIK he thought it would come down to turnout.
But the other key factor is going to be the small parties.
Can the Greens get above five per cent?
Will NZ First fall further?
Can The Opportunities Party break above five per cent?
What looked like a boring election with a foregone conclusion is now on a knife edge.