"You're so cruel."
That was Simon Bridges' response to being called 'Mr 7 Percent' by The AM Show host Duncan Garner, following a poll that was good news for National, but bad for their leader.
The latest Colmar Brunton poll has National rising from 43 to 46 percent, Labour down 2 points to 43 and NZ First dropping below the 5 percent threshold, down 1 percent to 4.
While those shifts are within the margin of error, the Greens' slip from 7 to 5 percent isn't - and could have the coalition, which relies on the Greens to stay in power, worried.
But while National has regained its place as the most popular party, it still only has one ally in Parliament - the single-seat ACT, whose share of the party vote has declined three elections in a row. And on these results, those two won't have enough seats to form a Government.
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And Mr Bridges is languishing in the preferred Prime Minister stakes, on 7 percent - neck-and-neck with former leadership contender Judith Collins and 32 points behind Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Mr Bridges blamed it on being leader of the Opposition.
"But under my leadership what really matters is the party vote, and that's going up," he told The AM Show on Monday.
He said Helen Clark was behind Jenny Shipley "right until the end" before winning the 1999 election, and National's Jim Bolger trailed not just Labour's Mike Moore but his own caucus member Winston Peters before winning in 1990.
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Mr Bridges questioned the veracity of the latest Colmar Brunton poll.
"Look, I don't think that's where it's at. I think my Members of Parliament, I know, that's what they believe as well."
He put the party's strong showing, despite the Jami-Lee Ross saga, down to their focus.
"National - under my leadership - is focusing on what matters to Kiwis, what's worrying them coming into Christmas time - the cost of living, taxes and things like [Karel] Sroubek."
Watch the full commentary above.
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