National is now going to target Winston Peters and NZ First in the hope of winning one or two per cent of his vote back off him.

They believe that will be enough to hold on to power.

This week will see the Prime Minister campaigning in Peters’ Northland seat  — an unusual move in a seat which up till recently National freely conceded it could not win.

That has changed though. They now believe his by-election vote is shrinking.

Labour is also campaigning in the seat, and that may further erode Peters’ vote.

Also fuelling National’s strategy is polling it has which shows the Greens on around three per cent and Gareth Morgan’s Opportunities Party on two per cent.

That was reinforced yesterday with a One News Comar Brunton poll showing the Greens on 3.6% in Whangarei.

The strategy then is clear; to try and boost National’s vote — thought to be in the mid-40s – by two per cent or so, and then to rely on a high wasted vote from the Greens, TOP plus ACT to reduce the percentage it needs to get half the seats in Parliament.

Last election the so-called wasted vote was 7.15%; that meant that to get half the seats in Parliament a party needed to get 46.4% of all the votes.

National got 47% and got 60 seats but because there was a one seat “overhang” caused by Peter Dunne it didn’t quite have a majority.


Currently on Curia’s “poll of polls” National is on 44.2%.

If the wasted vote is much the same as the last election, then National probably needs another two or three per cent to win a majority of the seats.

The sources spoken to by POLITIK believe that is achievable if it can motivate its provincial and rural supporters to vote at the same time as it chips away at the soft Labour vote.

“We don’t need a lot, just one point off each of them,” a senior MP told POLITIK.

 Bill English and Jacquie Dean at Radio Wanaka

So National is targeting the provincial and rural vote some of which it says has drifted to NZ First over the past 18 months.

Hence the Prime Minister’s frequent appearances in the provinces. This week will see him visit three North Island provincial electorates.

One provincial electorate chair said the party took a hit from its core supporters over some policies – particularly its clamp down on health and safety.

There have also been concerns about its failure to make substantial changes to the Resource Management Act.

However, he said Labour’s water policy, its capital gains tax proposal and its intention to bring farming into the ETS was motivating farmers to come back to National.

 Jacinda Ardern Christchurch rally

National also believes that Jacinda Ardern is not doing so well out of Auckland.

“You can only do so much mania,” the senior MP said.

He believed National had an advantage because it could keep announcing Government moves while Ardern had to keep generating mania.

“Because they haven’t got a whole lot to say.”

Even so, National is aiming policies at Labour supporters with its big educational spend announced yesterday and moves like the Dunedin Hospital announced on Friday.

In turn, Labour, who have been concentrating on bringing their core supporters back together and reclaiming those who had drifted off to the Greens and NZ First now says it sees some movement from National to it.

 Labour aprty faithful at the Ardern rally

That claim was reinforced yesterday with the TVOne Colmar Brunton poll of Whangarei which showed that National was down nine per cent from the last election on the party vote while Labour was up by a massive 19% to 37%.

The poll was taken over last weekend and early last week around Labour’s campaign launch.

Meanwhile, Jacindamania shows no sign of abating with over 700 predominantly party supporters turning out to cheer and applaud her in Christchurch yesterday.

The party’s former deputy leader and Ardern’s “minder” for the campaign, Annette King, told POLITIK that the reaction she was getting surpassed even the reaction to David Lange in the 1984 campaign.