Staggering support for National, but Bridges staggering

When journalists openly ask if a political leader is a ‘dead man walking’ there should be cause for concern. That is what is happening after a bad week for Simon Bridges, who is still encumbered by an ongoing inquiry (which was self inflicted) into the leak of his expenses.

Tracey Watkins:  Is Simon Bridges a dead man walking?

Ardern is the wind under Labour’s wings. It’s not  much of an exaggeration to say that, without her, this Government would be in desperate trouble right now. She has made its bumbling and a string of disasters survivable.  She is at the height of her powers.

Ardern looks strong, but Labour are labouring. In contrast, Bridges continues to stagger while National seems to be maintaining it’s strength as a party.

There is a dearth of independent polling these days – polls are expensive and traditional media companies are strapped for cash – so we can only go by anecdotal (and highly partisan) accounts of internal party polls.

But the constant seems to be that National’s support hasn’t really shifted around much since the election.

That is staggering for a party that has just been swept out of power after nine years. It is even more staggering given Bridges’ apparent lack of connection with voters.  The message is getting cut-through, even if Bridges can’t.

Perhaps people who are being polled see National’s longer term prospects as being much better than Bridges’. That could suggest that Bridges is seen as irrelevant and expendable.

Bridges’ position is far less secure. Brand National is the wind beneath his wings, the party holding its support despite him, rather than because of him.

That puts Bridges in a particularly precarious position. If a view takes root that he is adding nothing to brand National, he becomes expendable, in a way that Ardern is not.

If a view takes root amongst journalists that Bridges is a dead man walking (figuratively and politically of course) then it is going to take a lot from bridges to turn that around, and so far he has shown no real sign of even a little glimmer that he has what it takes to lead.

He has only one ace card: disunity is toxic. But that card holds its power only for as long as National’s support holds up. So Bridges can’t afford to squander any of the goodwill or legacy that has kept National’s poll ratings in the mid to high 40s for much of the past decade.

The problem for National is that if Bridges starts to drag party support down with him it will be much harder for a replacement leader to turn that around again – unless they have immediate charisma and success like Ardern last year, but that was in extraordinary circumstances.

His personal poll ratings are low, and his favourability ratings (anecdotally at least) are said to be heading south. He is struggling to connect with voters, while up against a popular leader who is still in her honeymoon period.

He has been handed the poisoned chalice of leading National in opposition after nine successful years in government, and is being asked to fill the very big shoes of Sir John Key and Sir Bill English.

There is a very long line of ambitious politicians at his back whose seats in Parliament are reliant on his performance. They will turn on him in an instant if he puts their livelihoods under threat.

None of those problems is insurmountable or exceptional, though history would suggest they should be.

Not just their current livelihoods – those who are ambitious may see Bridges as an impediment to them getting back into, or into, power.

We all know it is rare for governments to be voted out after just one term. And the flipside of that coin is that it is not unusual for a new Opposition party to churn through several leaders before finding one who can lead it back into power.

Leadership is a lottery – you never know how well someone will do the job until given a chance. Bridges has so far been quite disappointing, and his recent stuff ups – an his judgment in these looks poor – may be his leadership death warrant.

Ardern’s success in New York re-established her as in charge – but NZ First’s need for oxygen won’t go away.

The economy, meanwhile, has remained in Labour’s favour. But there are some big election-year timebombs ticking away: a possible capital gains tax, a health sector shakeup, and law and order.

Many of these things will play to National’s strengths.

So Bridges may not be a dead man walking – yet.

But it will be hard for him to shake this question – especially as he seems to have little popular support, even on the right.

On party aligned blogs it can be as interesting to note what they don’t post about as much as what they do post.

Kiwiblog, the only serious sizeable National friendly blog, has avoided discussing Bridges. In recent posts in a big news week for Bridges David Farrar mostly criticises the Governemt, and has mentioned other National MPs:

Constructive Opposition

The Herald reports:

Two Opposition MPs are proposing long-awaited changes to the law governing the $50 billion apartment sector, drafting an overhaul which they hope the Government will support.

Nikki Kaye, Auckland Central MP, and Judith Collins…

Jonathan Young on Greenpeace

New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young writes…

Farrar covers the Jami-Lee Ross story Ross on leave and mentions Bridges, but says nothing about the ‘very embarrassing’ comments or the flak that Bridges copped as a result.

I have looked back to 26 September to find a post featuring Bridges to any extent – Did the PM mislead the House – you decide – and that is largely an attack on Ardern.

I don’t really recall seeing anyone giving Bridges much if any praise (I did post about a rare better than ordinary performance in Question Time a few weeks ago).

Will Bridges recognise that he is failing to make headway and poses far more risk than benefit for National?

If he doesn’t, a change of leadership may depend on whether another National MP wants to take the risk of challenging to take on the bigger risk of being a first term Leader of the Opposition.

This may leave Bridges in the hot seat through until the election. That will pose a problem for National – not even under the popular leadership of John Key were National able to get enough votes to get over the election line on their own. This seems even more unlikely under Bridges’ leadership, especially with no potential coalition partners apart from the solitary Seymour.

If there is no change of leader National will be gambling on Labour (and Greens) being more unpopular than the staggering Bridges.

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64 Comments

  1. robertguyton

     /  October 6, 2018

    ” so we can only go by anecdotal (and highly partisan) accounts of internal party polls.

    But the constant seems to be that National’s support hasn’t really shifted around much since the election.”

    Doubt it. Lack of polling means people aren’t being asked to review their positions. National looks a dogs’ breakfast and daren’t ask the country how they’re going.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  October 6, 2018

      This was a very sad read last night. Excruciatingly so.

      Bryce Edwards – Political Roundup: An embarrassing week for National
      5 Oct, 2018 4:25pm
      https://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=12137692

      Reply
      • According to Garner, “The source went on to say what is embarrassing is National’s internal polling which has Bridges’ internal favourability collapsing”.

        That doesn’t surprise me.

        Reply
      • PartisanZ

         /  October 6, 2018

        Do you have similar “very sad” feelings when the media are pointing out deficiencies and embarrassments in the Labour-led government Gezza?

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  October 6, 2018

          Yes. One thing I am grateful for is that the Gen Pop is managing somehow to just keep calm and carry on – because the overall state of politics in NZ right at the moment in my opinion is utterly farcical.

          Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  October 6, 2018

      Lack of polling due to the media not having any money is certainly a telling statement Robert.

      Evaluating the condition of our democracy depends on the “business of news” …

      So National ain’t the only thing that looks like a dog’s breakfast IMHO.

      Reply
      • PartisanZ

         /  October 6, 2018

        There could be some kind of government or independent state services portal that does polling on a daily basis … with voter commentary … We have the technology …

        Instead we await the horse-drawn media …

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  October 6, 2018

          Yes I was thinking newspapers could do more frequent online polling (like, weekly) but then I realised its too easily rortable by rounding up gangs of party supporters to pound them.

          There might be some challenges stopping people doing similar rorts of a government polling system. Stats Department would seem to be the obvious one to try for a polling system but I can’t see it working. They are tardy with whatever stats they produce now.

          Reply
    • Zedd

       /  October 6, 2018

      @RG

      Natl… those in glasshouses… 😀

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  October 6, 2018

        I wonder how easy it is to block vote and get away with it. One radio show some years ago disqualified two contestants as they could tell that this was happening even then.

        It would be a lot of trouble to go to, I think, and it could be easily stopped by only letting one vote through for each email address.

        Reply
  2. PartisanZ

     /  October 6, 2018

    Had me worried there for a minute PG …

    I thought maybe a new poll result had come in with “staggering” support for National …

    But you meant staggering like an Old Drunk White Man … debilitated …

    Personally I reckon National’s policy and their whole image is letting them down at present.

    If everything depends on leadership then democracy is in a bad way and in dire need of significant reform a la Constitution Aotearoa New Zealand.

    Reply
  3. robertguyton

     /  October 6, 2018

    From a commenter on The Standard (it’s a quote, Pete and quite funny in it’s naivety)
    “The Natzi’s are falling to bits since John Key resigned to spend more time with Bronwyn.”

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  October 6, 2018

      That is not funny at all. Natzi is a grossly insulting term and I was under the impression that it was one of the few things barred on YNZ. Nobody who knows anything about the Nazis would find it amusing to refer to the National Party as that, and as John Key is Jewish and his mother was a Holocaust survivor, it makes the term even more offensive.

      I hope that Pete deletes the Natzi post.

      Reply
      • sorethumb

         /  October 6, 2018

        I was listening to a podcast about a jewish prosecutor (at the Hague) who had been with the soldiers who liberated at Concentration Camp. The inmates beat up a guard and put him in a gas oven; took him out and beat him up again before roasting him alive.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  October 6, 2018

          How many people had the guard murdered and tortured ?

          Can you wonder at the inmates retaliating when they had the chance ?

          I have seen in reality, not just in a photo, what a person’s hands look like when all the nails have been wrenched out (they never grow back quite the same) and the hands smashed with a sledgehammer, then left to heal themselves.

          The same had happened to the then young teenage boy’s feet. We saw how he walked but not what the feet looked like. His hands were badly deformed and his feet must have been the same. The pain of that torture is beyond imagining.

          His Auschwitz tattoo was still clear and readable, all six figures of it. He was the history master at my high school.

          Don’t ask me to pity anyone who took part willingly (and there is plenty of evidence that it was willing participation) and who was later on the receiving end.

          Please do Jews the courtesy of spelling our name with a capital J.

          Reply
        • Blazer

           /  October 6, 2018

          sounds like a gruesome …fairytale.

          Reply
    • Trevors_elbow

       /  October 6, 2018

      Typical shit from you Robert. Picking up a ‘quote’ so you can pollute the blog.. typical of your threadjacking and trolling. You’re a sad wee man Robert….

      Reply
  4. alloytoo

     /  October 6, 2018

    Attacks on Bridges are becoming a little predictable, they normally follow 3-4 weeks of bad government press and suggest the Ministry of Propaganda is increasingly concerned with their internal polls.

    As far as I can tell, in a month where the PM has:

    1. Apparently lied to parliament about communications with potential CIOs
    2. Apparently used tax payers money for future campaign material.
    3. Had to Learn what GDP was.
    4. Presided over a slide in business confidence to Pre-GFC levels
    5. Presided over record fuel prices
    6. Lost two ministers
    7.Something I’ve no doubt forgotten.

    Simon bridges has:

    1. Misspoken and used the term “Embarrassing” in relation to JLR’s person leave.
    2. Let the leak investigation continue to a point where it may well appear on the PM’s list above very soon.

    Compared to Key or English, Simon may appear lightweight, compared to Ardern however…..I bet he knows what GDP means when Hosking asks.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  October 6, 2018

      well he didn’t know Nationals position on prisons when he was asked…has put his foot in it…many times.

      Reply
      • alloytoo

         /  October 6, 2018

        I made a list, you are welcome to support your assertions with a list.

        Reply
        • PDB

           /  October 6, 2018

          Good list – and not happy with the Bridges ‘leaking farce’ Ardern joined in by setting up her own internal leak investigation which may also turn around and bite her in the bum.

          Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  October 6, 2018

          Alloy, you forgot the camp fiasco and the use of an Air Force plane for a $100,000 taxi ride so that she didn’t have to leave the baby for two days.

          Reply
    • duperez

       /  October 6, 2018

      “Ministry of Propaganda” followed soon after by “3. Had to Learn what GDP was,” then your spin on the GDP thing.

      Reply
      • alloytoo

         /  October 6, 2018

        When the present government created a Ministry for Transparent government and promptly began to hide everything, they invited comparison with other historically left governments as well as Orwell’s 1984.

        Reply
      • PDB

         /  October 6, 2018

        She either lied about seeing the figures before she was supposed to or she doesn’t know what GDP is – take your pick.

        Either way she apparently (according to her) is happy to answer questions with a reply to a different question – a bit like this in fact;

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  October 6, 2018

          Damn, this is serious. I believe Lefties play the clip backwards to get the jokes. Voters already ”get it.”😄

          Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  October 6, 2018

          So non-voters don’t ?

          Reply
    • robertguyton

       /  October 6, 2018

      “Attacks on Bridges are becoming a little predictable”
      FUBARs by Bridges are becoming a little predictable. Will he get through the weekend without another?

      Reply
      • alloytoo

         /  October 6, 2018

        By volume Simon’s mistakes are relatively few, by importance they’re very minor especially when compared with Dysfunction Junction.

        Reply
        • By perception, he is failing to connect. That’s a major, especially if National support starts to slip.

          Someone on Twitter just said that Colmar Brunton are polling at the moment. If so that could be unfortunate timing for Bridges and possibly National.

          Reply
          • alloytoo

             /  October 6, 2018

            I would agree that he has failed to connect, however Labour’s persistent targeting of him suggests an air of desperationon their part.

            Two things are certain:

            He actually makes far fewer mistakes than Jacinda.
            His mistakes have far fewer consequences for the rest of us.

            Reply
    • Blazer

       /  October 6, 2018

      ‘Presided over a slide in business confidence to Pre-GFC levels’—pre GFC confidence was fine….’no one saw it coming’…remember.
      Stop making shit ..up.

      Reply
      • alloytoo

         /  October 6, 2018

        1.New Zealand entered recession prior to the GFC.
        2. Anyone who didn’t see the GFC coming was an idiot, I remember discussing it’s inevitability at lease two years prior to it’s ultimate happening.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  October 6, 2018

          you are not just the smartest guy in the …room…!

          https://tribune.com.pk/story/1082222/why-did-no-one-see-it-coming/

          Reply
          • alloytoo

             /  October 6, 2018

            Unlike yourself and the PM I am not a Dunning Kruger sufferer.

            The GFC was caused by the assumption of greater and greater risk in especially western markets, which were trying to maintain the abnormal profits that arose from the normalization of the Eastern Bloc economies following the fall of Soviet Union.

            Sustained higher risks ended in correction. End of story.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  October 6, 2018

              WRONG …AGAIN!!…maddest theory ever !!…take a ..bow.NFI.

            • alloytoo

               /  October 6, 2018

              @Blazer

              Debate requires a little more than the assertion of “wrongness”.

              This is not a NZ First Caucus meeting.

    • Ray

       /  October 6, 2018

      Quite a bit of fuss on Twitter about Bridges trying to find who the leaker of the report on his spending.
      Not a word about the PM or the Department involved ( hard to tell which is asking, from this very open and transparent Government ) calling for an inquiry into the leaking of the report on Meta Whaitiri.
      The difference is one is paying for it out of his allowance while the second is on the Taxpayers.

      Reply
  5. artcroft

     /  October 6, 2018

    Still the overall message is that National, despite a troubled leader remains strong. Contrary to the Greens who continue on the knife edge drawing support only from the irrational. And when Jacinda’s star dust wears away (as it will) Labour, Greens and NZF will all be swept away, probably to be replaced by a middle aged white man.👐

    Reply
    • robertguyton

       /  October 6, 2018

      Still the overall message is National remain in Opposition while Labour, The Greens and New Zealand 1st are in Government. Hacienda’s wildly popular and strengthening her hand by the day. New Zealand’s a happy place and people are thinking about the value of a kind society, such as the PM is describing. Thank you.

      Reply
      • alloytoo

         /  October 6, 2018

        I suspect that for all Jacinda’s pouting she will leave NZ a less happier place than she found it.

        Reply
      • Trevors_Elbow

         /  October 6, 2018

        I love that you prove Arties post with your response Robert….’Greens who continue on the knife edge drawing support only from the irrational’

        You are the prima facie case proving the assertion….

        Reply
    • Gezza

       /  October 6, 2018

      I’m hanging out for the next lot of published polls. I think a poor or plummeting poll trend for the leader can drag the party poll support down as folk give up on the Party having any idea what to do about it. Pretty sure that’s what happened to Labour previously.

      Reply
    • Corky

       /  October 6, 2018

      Arty, after a bar room fight, the last man standing is always a white man. Red men and men green around the gills are usually face down on the floor counting dust mites.

      Reply
    • Gerrit

       /  October 6, 2018

      …or woman.

      A name to remember for the future; Daniel Newman.

      Doing great work in South Auckland and not far away from standing on a National party electorate ticket (probably Papakura when Judith goes on the list) or on the National party list as an up and comer.

      Reply
  6. robertguyton

     /  October 6, 2018

    Hacienda – I think I’ll just go with that.

    Reply
  7. Reply
  8. Rickmann

     /  October 6, 2018

    Oh, I dunno, by the government’s October anniversary we should be in stagflation as fuel prices feed through to super market shelves and services, credit markets tighten up like a frightened sprinter (the Fed and ECB’s shrinking of their balance sheets and the crash in mortgage market refinancing across the Tassie ), rampant growth in officialdom and non Maoris getting increasingly fed up with the maorification of the news and our own growing apartheid society. As the Maori Caucus says in response to any criticism of their own, “back off, it’s a Maori thing.” Yep, we’re special.

    Yep, the light blues may start returning to the true blue fold in spite of Bridges less than stellar performance and their growing awareness that a cute baby, a toothy smile and balmy platitudes are not substitute for day to day competence.

    Reply
  9. Gezza

     /  October 6, 2018

    View from the stream. Random interviews 10-10.30 am

    🐧 Sir Gerald 🐧

    Reply
  10. Zedd

     /  October 6, 2018

    ‘….but Bridges staggering’ sez PG

    what was he drinking.. or smokin’ ? 😀

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  October 6, 2018

      Fine wine and a Cuban cigar, Zedd. He doesn’t do cask wine and Winfield and KFC.

      Reply
    • Trevors_Elbow

       /  October 6, 2018

      your the expert on incapacitation via inhalation Zeddy…

      Reply
      • sez who ?

        I maybe am advocate for reform.. BUT I rarely actually inhale anymore, its getting too hard to get it (natural budz.. that is) !

        Reply

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