The latest Reid Research poll has the Conservatives a hair’s breadth away from being, officially, a necessary coalition partner if National wants a third term.
For a party which has been campaigning on a “let’s just keep skimming forward across a placid lake” narrative, this has to be seriously worrying for the Nats. The kinds of centrist voters who think John Key would be a nice bloke to have a beer with are not the kinds of people who want Christine “$235,000 for a management course” Rankin or Garth “abolish parole” McVicar at the table. And on 5%, they’ll also get Edward “young people commit suicide because we don’t smack them enough” Saafi.
Women voters, who received wisdom says John Key appeals to, aren’t going to be enamoured with Colin “Kiwi women are promiscuous” Craig. And when you think of a stable government, you probably don’t include parties whose leader’s press secretaries resign two days out from an election – without telling him.
Just today Bill English was comparing beneficiaries to cocaine addicts – so moderate voters can’t assume that National would be loath to lurch to the right if they had to. Right now, Key is doing his damnedest to distance himself from Colin and Friends, because he knows what a massive turn-off they are – but if it gets him three more years as PM, he’ll do it.