Simon Bridges says latest Newshub poll result 'heartening'

The AM Show 28/05/2018

National leader Simon Bridges has called the results of the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll "heartening".

While his party is flying high on 45 percent, he's made his debut on the preferred Prime Minister leaderboard at a lowly 9 percent - well behind actual Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who's on 40.2 percent.

But Mr Bridges told The AM Show on Monday morning he wasn't concerned.

"We're several months in, we've just had a Budget that splurged a lot of cash. It's very unusual actually the main Opposition party is ahead of the main governing party. I'll take that."

When Bill English took over from John Key, he immediately jumped to 25 percent. Mr Bridges' score puts him on a par with former Labour leader leader David Cunliffe in March 2014. Months later, Mr Cunliffe led his party to its worst election result in decades.

While Mr Bridges is on single-figures, his approval rating - the percentage of people who think he's doing well, minus those who think he's doing poorly - is 11.9 percent.

"This isn't actually that bad, when you consider that the previous Labour leaders were all in the negatives," Newshub political editor Tova O'Brien told The AM Show. "David Cunliffe was peaking down at minus 33 percent."

But again, he's well behind Ms Ardern, whose approval rating is 54.8 percent - down from 61 percent in the previous Newshub-Reid Research poll.

"I think he's fine for now because the party numbers are steady," said O'Brien, "but if that starts falling off..."

Then it could be time for Ms Collins to strike. She's made her first appearance on the preferred Prime Minister chart, on 3.7 percent - but insists she doesn't want to be National Party leader, let alone Prime Minister.

O'Brien isn't convinced.

"You've got to be a little bit worried that you're languishing on 9 percent, especially when old mate Judith 'Crusher' Collins is suddenly slipping into our poll on 3.7 percent," said O'Brien. "Ambitions like Judith Collins' do not die in a ditch overnight."

Last year's election was the first in New Zealand history where the largest party did not go on to form the Government. National lacked coalition partners - and that's a problem that doesn't appear to be going away.

The Greens were the only other party to breach the 5 percent threshold in the poll, and the chances of them siding with National after the next election are perhaps about as likely as Mr Cunliffe making a political comeback and rolling Ms Ardern.

Watch the full video above.

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