Prime Minister John Key and his Government defy convention and are more popular now than they were on election night 2011.
Heading into the campaign, National is polling in the stratosphere, which, perversely, means it could lose if complacency takes root and its voters don’t bother to turn up.
But looking like a done deal to win the election has some advantages, particularly when it comes to getting businesses to open their chequebooks.
National starts with a huge war chest and a slick campaign team that knows how to win elections.
Still only part-way through the revolution imposed on the caucus by the grassroots, Labour has been too busy warring with itself to take the fight to National.
It has plenty of foot soldiers and a plan to mobilise the vote in areas like South Auckland, but it is not clear whether the grassroots are motivated enough to give the plan any grunt.
Labour’s poor polling has also turned the focus of many MPs inward to their survival in previously safe seats that could turn if the tide continues to go out, meaning the crucial party-vote message is not getting through.
We hear, meanwhile, that money is tight, though it is not clear whether that’s because party president Moira Coatsworth has failed to knock on enough doors or because those doors are firmly closed.
The secret fear that keeps Labour MPs awake at night is an old-fashioned rout.
I think those doors are closed.
The Greens’ leaders, Russel Norman and Metiria Turei, are more match-ready than any of their allies in Opposition.
They also have a strong team. The Greens have some of the most talented and energetic people in Parliament working for them.
Never short of creative capital, they are noted for running slick campaigns, though their Love New Zealand billboards may have missed the mark.
A lot of work has gone into matching the creative side with a better-run effort on the ground this election.
The biggest threat to the Greens is being starved of oxygen by the likely focus on smaller parties like Internet Mana, because of the Dotcom factor, and NZ First, through its potential importance to National.
Winston Peters had plenty of fire in his belly when he launched his comeback on the 2011 campaign trail.
Motivated by pride and thoughts of revenge, he was a formidable and indefatigable opponent.
But did those three years of fishing and relaxing in his semi-retirement give Peters a taste of what he has been missing since his return to Parliament?
Peters will have to scrap hard to raise his party above the 5 per cent threshold yet again.
Now knocking 70, the Lazarus of New Zealand politics must be wondering whether it is all worth it.
The NZ First Party list will be interesting.Tags: Tracy Watkins