What now for Bridges?

There had already been murmurings in media about Simon Bridges leadership of National before the latest poll (Newshub/Reid Research) had him at 9% ‘preferred Prime Minister’.

Newshub headlined their poll with Simon Bridges failing to connect with voters – Newshub poll and the l4esd paragraph was worse:

A Newshub-Reid Research poll has brought some seriously bad news for Simon Bridges.

Mr Bridges, who has now been in the role three months to the day, has earned just 9 percent of the vote in the preferred Prime Minister stakes – the lowest result for a National leader in over a decade.

The poll, which is the first to be conducted since the new Labour-led Government’s first Budget, suggests his status as leader of the Opposition is failing to get any real traction with voters.

This is despite National support holding up on 45.1% to Labour’s 42.6%.

And also as has been murmured lately, Judith Collins got a promotion: Judith Collins makes surprising appearance in preferred Prime Minister poll

Prime Minister Judith Collins – how do those four words strung together make you feel? For 3.7 percent of New Zealanders, it feels pretty good.

Because for the first time ever, Ms Collins has registered in our Newshub-Reid Research poll as a candidate for preferred Prime Minister.

However, Ms Collins is ranking higher than Ms Ardern did when she first appeared as a preferred Prime Minister in 2015. Back then, Ms Ardern debuted at 3.5 percent.

But this is dire news for the actual leader of the National Party, Simon Bridges – his preferred Prime Minister ranking is just 9 percent.

I’m not sure how 9% is dire but 3.5% is somehow seen as an ominous appearance in the poll.

What should Bridges do about this poll? Nothing except continue on his two and a half year strategy. As one person put it, “his listening tour now is classic first year opposition stuff”. Travelling the country meeting as many people as possible is relatively low profile, but an essential in creating credibility and support.

I don’t think an election has ever been lost on a ‘preferred Prime Minister’ poll this far out from an election.

Jacinda Ardern peaked at 4.2% in 2016, and was averaging about 6% for the first half of 2017, suddenly spiking to 26% in early August, 6 weeks before the election.

There’s no reason Bridges can’t do something similar (unless he continues to look like a damp squib) if National are still near or ahead of Labour in the all important party poll, especially if NZ First look like they do now, out of contention, and if Greens look shaky again.

Neither James Shaw or Marama Davidson rated at all in the ‘Preferred prime Minister’ poll – Shaw got 0.4% with Colmar Brunton in December and February, but his absence in this poll means nothing about Green prospects.

Winston Peters got 4.6% in the latest poll, about average for him since the election, and he is going to be acting Prime Minister soon.

We have no idea how Jacinda Ardern’s popularity will track over the next two years. She may or may not even lead Labour next election. And that isn’t what is important anyway.

Bridges should carry on with his strategy and hope that he finds a formula that connects him with voters. More importantly National as a whole need to continue to look like a credible alternative.

Media will keep posting pointless poll stories – they use polls to create news, not to give a non-emotional balanced indicator of a snapshot of public opinion that is very minor in the whole scheme of things.

The opposition will continue to talk up doubts over National’s leadership.

The niche blog Whale Oil will continue it’s primary role as a political activist, talking up Collins and trying to trash Bridges. That’s been their modus operandi – promoting Collins and trashing Key/English/Bridges – for years. But 3.5% is a long way from suggesting their is wide support for Collins, even within National.

And WO’s toxic association with Collins will make things difficult for her – if she still has leadership ambitions. She is probably the most prominent and effective Opposition MP  at the moment, but it’s not uncommon for a non-leader to be the primary attack weapon of a party.

All this poll does is create a flurry of speculative comment, until the next poll. And there’s going to be many more of them before the election.

It’s not unusual for many people to prefer the current Prime Minister to be the Prime Minister – but Ardern’s 40%, well short of a majority, shows that it means little.

It is almost certain that National would suffer in the polls if they switched leaders every time media made a headline out of a single number. Labour struggled for eight years and ten months in Opposition, and their revolving door leadership was a significant part of that.

Bridges has far more important things to work on then ‘preferred PM’ polls that mean very little under MMP.


  1. Gezza

     /  May 28, 2018

    Do they want more Bridges in Northland? That’s the question.

    • David

       /  May 28, 2018

      That commitment soon Petered out.

      • PartisanZ

         /  May 28, 2018

        We’ll get the most needed ones anyhow as part of Labour-led’s Transport Plan …

        The others, the non-essential ones, could become backroads tourist novelties … another ‘point of difference’ like our 2 vehicular ferries …

        • PartisanZ

           /  May 28, 2018

          Slow food …

          Why not “Slow Move”? … …. …… …… slower … and safer …

  2. David

     /  May 28, 2018

    National polling above Labour still should give Bridges some comfort and they have done well to maintain that given the generally positive coverage the government has received.
    That Arderns poll ratings mirror Labours and has done for some time is more of interest given her current circumstances, she hasnt had the chance yet to show they are a competent government who can deal with a crisis etc before she is off and leaves us with Peters who,s support is diametrically opposite demographically to hers.

  3. To avoid the Labour leadership stain he’ll need to struggle along. He’ll need to realise that in the short term – this election cycle – he’s buggered. Pity the NATs never realised this before the young guns dispose of their real gold – English and Joyce.

    What they’ll need to do is get Nikki Kaye a rebrand ( more about the hair) about a year out and put her – cancer survivor – head to head with mouthy mother of the nation. Kaye is more than a match in Parliament, she’s hands down twice as bright and popular. Three election thrashing’s in Auckland Central shows us she’s got it. Judith can be her handbag carrier.

    • Gezza

       /  May 28, 2018

      Nup. Kaye’s tiny. She looks pale & pasty & waifish & she just sounds looks & sounds frowny & catty & whiny now she’s not a Minister. No show of being our next PM.

      • To you perhaps. However THREE election cycles against Ardern says otherwise as does her endurance athleticism, beating cancer and history as an MP

        • Gezza

           /  May 28, 2018

          That is how she is going to be seen trav. I’m glad as hell she beat the cancer. Like everyone, I’m happy as heck when anyone but an absolute arsehole does. But her sneering snarkily at Jacinda for not even being able to win an electorate seat is etched into my mind. Nek minit the girlie she scorned so dismissively is leader of the Labour Party, & when she finally gets over that shock – she’s the flaming PM.

          The game has changed completely. There’s plenty of scope for Jacinda & Labour to totally screw up & lose the next election yet, but the pundits & the economists & even the employers aren’t concluding that Grant’s sending the country to hell in a handbasket already.

          Hopkins might even sort the edjakayshin system out – I’ve only got to listen to Jacinda & Simon speak to see how far the standard teaching of English alone has sunk over the past 30 years to hope somebody will!

          Labour’s done nothing for me, they are even taxing me more, but I wouldn’t have benefitted one iota from National’s tax cuts either, & National would’ve had to pay for a coalition partner’s promises too. It seems they had a fiscal hole or two as well.

          As you know I’m not a tribal loyalist like you & I don’t think Nikki Kaye is going to appeal to non-National-besotted voters as a potential PM. Judith should do the donkey work & then they should pick another bloke.

          Early days though. Just gonna wait & see how things go. Winston is the major risk for this government in the immediate future.

          • “Sneering snarkingly etched…..”

            You’re entitled to a moment in time burned in to mind and framing your perception of Kaye. (You’ll be reminded of this if I see fit to rebuke you in the future btw as your gal Ardern has a sneer like no other. I’ve a few of them saved 😋😎)

            I speak as a woman, an Aucklander and a Kiwi more interested in policy than Instagram fishing romance stories. I feel Ms Kaye expresses my ideas and mirrors my values, whereas Ms Ardern comes across as a virtue signaller, lightweight and an empty vessel. Political leadership is all about looking in a mirror. At this point I’d put Ardern’s supporters as being largely women and someone who can wrest the women’s vote away will be needed. Just as Labour finally woke up to the fact they needed to put up a personality, it is to be hoped Nats will get that premise and that individual ambition within caucus will be set aside. Can’t see it at the moment.

            • Gezza

               /  May 28, 2018

              Jacinda’s not “my girl” trav. I think she’s a lightweight – but she can sell cos she’s got family appeal (especially with bubba on the way, the media will lap that up) Nikki can’t, she can communicate to a broad audience, especially younger voters, with the sort of warmth Key & English projected to mature voters, & that’s all she needs to do for now. That, and not frighten the horses too much. She’s done for in Taranaki though.

              Nikki’s got an impressive personal & Ministerial track record. And you might be right & I could be wrong, but Nikki’s in Opposition, so she’s going to suffer from the problem of always being seen as negative & critical, no kids, & she just looks waspish to me.

        • Gezza

           /  May 28, 2018

          🙄 Gawd. Hopkins = Hipkins.

    • Blazer

       /  May 28, 2018

      ‘ dispose of their real gold – English and Joyce.’…too funny…’fools gold’!

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  May 28, 2018

    Obviously Bridges should offer to stand in for Jacinda instead of Winston since he is twice as popular.

  5. PDB

     /  May 28, 2018

    I don’t think Bridges is the way to go but to be fair this is only his second poll from memory and it is too early to tell at this stage. The only thing in his favour presently is the leading females within National have been performing well (Adams, Collins etc) so as a collective they are still seen as a stronger team as shown in the preferred party result. Again the major problem is that without a decent support partner they somehow have to get up to 50% support themselves.

    The MSM want Collins (purely for the stories that would create) and therefore will be pushing that barrow in each following poll. If National had some smarts they would make her deputy where she could still be used as the effective attack dog rather than tone things down to appeal to more people if leader.

    The person that needs to run and would beat Ardern is the ‘Ardernomator’ herself Nikki Kaye, who (maybe wisely) kept out of the last leadership bid, would have wide appeal & would be an intellectual upgrade on Ardern whilst still providing the ‘youthful, female’ nonsense some voters are attracted to.

    • Gezza

       /  May 28, 2018

      Wide appeal my arse.

      • “Wide appeal”. The woman has roundly beaten Ms Ardern three times in an inner city urban seat FGS. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t at least respect or admire her – except you.

        • Gezza

           /  May 28, 2018

          Well you wouldn’t – not with the Clarke & Jacinda gossipers you seem to hang around with. They’d be mainly pro anyone in National – wouldn’t they? 😉

          I respect what Nikki’s achieved in the personal area – I don’t know how I’d rate her in her Ministerial portfolios, I never paid much attention to her, but I think you are over-estimating her likely appeal as a PM to people outside the National camp.

          • Morphing into Blazer none too charmingly I might add.

            • Gezza

               /  May 28, 2018

              Aw shit. Cut it out trav that really hurts.
              Robust disagreement doesn’t make me Blazer & your gossip mongering has been scandalous.

        • duperez

           /  May 28, 2018

          I’d expect a woman, an Aucklander and a Kiwi more interested in policy than Instagram fishing romance stories to describe Kaye’s election wins as three election “thrashings’. Any win is a thrashing.

          To emphasise it as ‘roundly beating Ms Ardern three times’ is to be expected too. The funny thing is adding the bit about “an inner city urban seat FGS”. That suggests some clichéd view of the electorate and seems to ignore the reality of the demographics of the district.

          A loss is a loss but characterising Kaye’s win as some storming triumph against some ‘inner city urban seat’ bulwark is wrong. The statistics speak for themselves. Voting for Kaye over three elections by and large reflected her party’s vote. Ardern’s by and large was twice her party’s vote. In three elections Kaye’s biggest majority was just over 700. In a usual way of seeing things in New Zealand electorates that is not often called a thrashing.

          • I get it, you don’t like her or her party.

            If we’re going to continue employing hyperbole, then to suggest that her wins were not triumphant, (considering the demographic and despite her opposition being the personable and highly rated now PM 08,11 and 14) it could be construed that that is a harsh judgement.

            Or not? This is a forum, it’s largely all opinion. Mine is that Kaye has gone head to head under seemingly impossible circumstances with Ardern and won. That, in my opinion, holds her in good stead should she feel she might take the job on. ”You feel otherwise. Good on you. Neither of us has a crystal ball.

            • duperez

               /  May 28, 2018

              I get it too, you reduce everything to saying I don’t like her or her party.

              The forum is largely opinion. It is my opinion that saying Kaye’s electoral successes were “under seemingly impossible circumstances” is an example of the hyperbole you mention. Quoting electoral figures is not a statement of preference or denigration or opinion.

              An opinion might have it that Arden’s results in the seat against Kaye (indicated above) were exceptional ‘under seemingly impossible circumstances’. In comparison Kaye’s personal result simply matched the electorate’s party results.

      • PDB

         /  May 28, 2018

        Gezza: “Wide appeal my arse.”

        Maybe not with you and the pukeko but with the all important female vote she is a far smarter, more experienced, better spoken & prepared version of Ardern. Both Collins and Bridges have very limited appeal to the female vote unlike John Key.

        Kaye/Collins ticket would be the best of both worlds.

        • With you there Pants. Always a problem when the sub $200,000 brigade spot a chance at a salary double

          • Hopefully they’ll settle down and realise we need the gals in there to combat the Princess if we can’t rustle up a Key lookalike.

            • PDB

               /  May 28, 2018

              I think a National leadership team with two strong women, one from the more liberal side of the National and one from the right, would strike a good balance, especially considering Ardern is basically a one-woman band for Labour. Kaye the friendly face selling the dream and Collins working behind the scenes getting stuff done & keeping the party in line.

              Bridges being a bloke is too easily made fun of – a lot harder for Winston to get away in public with being nasty to a young, female cancer survivor. Also Bridges is not even making headway with male voters so nothing really to lose going with two women at the top.

            • Gezza

               /  May 28, 2018

              You put up a two woman team you’ve got no show.

  6. Zedd

     /  May 28, 2018

    bridges is natls answer to andrew little.. keeping the seat warm

    • Zedd

       /  May 28, 2018

      to quote matua-wini ‘all brilcreme & no socks’

      • You’re not mocking Soimun Brudges are you?😫

        • Zedd

           /  May 28, 2018

          actually he could be more like, cunliffe (who came before little); 1-2 more changes likely before a real contender 🙂 😀

  7. Ron Chamberlain

     /  May 28, 2018

    Simon Bridges has an Identity problem with many people, because of his background

    • Gezza

       /  May 28, 2018

      In my opinion it’s more likely to be that purple blue suit, his accent, & his seeming overly robot-like in his delivery.

      We’ve got members of National Ra-Ra crew writing him off already: that’s not best encouraging.

      What is it about his background ?

      • phantom snowflake

         /  May 28, 2018

        Conservative Christian, son of a Baptist minister.

      • PDB

         /  May 28, 2018

        He comes across as a bloke who really wants to be as likable as John Key….but isn’t and wont be ever.

  8. PartisanZ

     /  May 28, 2018

    Bridges just isn’t the stuff of inspiring leadership … Nothing personal.

    Having said that, I felt exactly the same about John Key …

    But Kaye/Collins …. Good Cop/Bad Cop …??? OMG!!!

    Nonetheless a ‘progressive’ move from National to have female PM & Deputy …

    • Corky

       /  May 29, 2018

      Crusher/ Bennett combo. Enough to make any metro socialist quake in their Doc Martens..