I am curious as to why the media think it is their job to try and help Winston Peters back into Parliament, just because it means that they get more interesting stories.
What I mean, is the media overkill that reports almost every utterance from Winston. Every speech to a room of oldies or students results in stories. An off the cuff comment about how he is not ruling out Helensville gets reported breathlessly on TV as a major story. Hello – what is news worthy about a guy who had a 30 year old beat him by 10,000 votes in his own former seat, speculate he may stand in a seat where the majority is 20,000 and he would be lucky to get his deposit back.
I do not advocate that the media should never report Winston. Of course not. If there is genuine judgement that something significant is said, they should consider it on the merits. But they give Winston free publicity massively in excess of what they give any other politician in his situation. I suspect they give him more publicity for one of his speeches to Grey Power, than they do to the Leaders of parties in Parliament such as the Maori Party.
On the average of the last polls by the three main public pollsters, NZ First is at 1.9% average. So he leads a party that is polling at under 2%, and got 4% at the last election.
I’ve tried to think of other party leaders in such situations, to compare the massively publicity Peters gets, against what they got. Perhaps a comparison could be the Alliance post 2002. But to be fair they only got 1.3% in the 2002 election.
The best comparison is the Christian Coalition post 1996. In 1996 they got 4.3% – a bit more than Winston’s 4.1% in 2008. So one would expect Winston to get as much coverage as they gave Graham Capill when he made a speech or press release, in 1997.