An interesting article by John Armstrong on why he thinks National was at 49% in their last poll. A summary of his 10 reasons is:
- Key’s sky-high rating as most preferred Prime Minister
- Key’s moderate conservatism
- Key is unashamedly pragmatic
- Neutralising of troublesome issues rather than allowing them to linger and fester
- A majority of voters view National as the better manager of the economy
- Good at maintaining momentum
- National is still largely defining what the arguments are about in most policy areas
- Opposition parties are instead still devoting considerable time and effort to fighting battles they have lost
- Public getting acclimatised to the rather chaotic nature of minority government
- Few, if any, issues that are seriously divisive and on which National finds itself stranded on the wrong side of the argument for ideological reasons
I would also add on that the alternative looks chaotic and unconvincing.
In another article, three Herald staffers look at Key’s personal popularity. First Armstrong again:
Why is John Key still riding high in the polls? Put it down to several factors. First, an understanding of and empathy with the New Zealand character and what is acceptable and not acceptable. His moderate conservatism is straight out of Sir Keith Holyoake’s textbook.
Key’s second priceless asset is his finely-honed political instinct in which he has the sense to trust – even when receiving advice to the contrary. Few leaders who have spent six years in the job would have their feet still firmly planted on the ground. He is never aloof. Nor arrogant. He does not talk down to people. He can laugh at himself. …
Key’s affable nature is not a false front to be worn solely for public consumption.
Claire Trevett touches on that last point:
His show of a good-natured, even-tempered, self-deprecating personality is one of his most potent weapons. It makes him seem approachable, and that helps explain why his personal ranking is so high above his party’s popularity. It also blurs the fact that he is wealthier and more powerful than most voters. If his Government is having a hard time, the next time he gives a speech he’ll get in a self-mocking joke about it, a tactic that simultaneously acknowledges the headache it is causing him while getting across the message that it is not as major an issue as is being made out. …
His sense of humour is his most underestimated asset. Voters get bored of leaders – it is one of the most corrosive factors on their popularity. Only tyrants and comedians can slow the process of that boredom. Labour cannot abide it, and that alone shows how powerful Key’s persona is.
While Liam Dann says:
As the Bill Clinton campaign slogan said: it’s the economy, stupid.
People vote with their pockets even when they are complaining about myriad other issues.
And I don’t think voters think the economy will do better with a Labour-Green-NZ First-Mana Government.