Ardern may make history


Just after Sir John Key received his knighthood this week he remarked that he could not find an example, anywhere in the world, of a party leader becoming prime minister after about seven weeks.
If Jacinda Ardern does lead the next government, there will have been eight weeks between her takeover as leader of the Labour Party and winning an election.
The point the previous prime minister was making was that voters have very little time to get to know her and decide whether they think she has got what it takes to lead the country.
He contrasted that, as he would, with a tried and tested National government led by a Prime Minister who has been in Parliament since 1990, fought an election as leader of the Opposition, held portfolios in two administrations and was finance minister for eight years.
Ms Ardern has just eight weeks to prove herself.
Because of the utter strangeness of this election, she could do it.
There is no precedent for what is being called the “Jacinda effect”, her electrifying entrance as Labour leader and the impact she has had on the opinion polls.
Last night’s 1 News Colmar Brunton poll was another stunner.
Labour was on 37%, National on 44% and the Greens were in the red zone below 5%.
It was taken at the height of “Jacindamania” and the Greens’ meltdown, and polls are snapshots of public opinion at the time.
It followed a trend set last week by the Newshub Reid Research poll and the UMR poll.
Newshub put Labour on 33% and UMR on 36% Ms Ardern is definitely picking up a swag of votes at the expense of the Greens and New Zealand First.
It appears to be picking off some soft National voters as well.
The Greens are victims of a horrible double whammy: their own meltdown coinciding with Ms Ardern’s soaring star.
It is difficult to tell which is having the most impact on the party’s ratings but James Shaw, now its only leader, says he thinks “a lot of people have been burned off” by events of the past two weeks.
The party will almost certainly recover some of its support before the election, as voters who have migrated to Labour realise its very existence is at stake, and it will clamber back above the 5% threshold.
Mr Shaw says he expects it will get back to its historic levels 11% in 2011 and 10.7% in 2014.
That is going to be really hard, and even if he succeeds it will be far short of the 15% rating it was riding before Metiria Turei’s benefit fraud admission. NZN

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