The ponytail-pulling antics of Prime Minister John Key appear to have had no immediate impact on his party or personal popularity, the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey suggests.
Half of the poll was conducted before the news broke that he had repeatedly pulled the ponytail of a waitress at a Parnell cafe despite her annoyance, and half of the poll was conducted after it.
DigiPoll general manager Nandan Modak said National dropped 0.7 percentage points in the second half of the polling and Mr Key dropped 0.8 points.
Overall National polled 51 per cent, marginally up on party support in December from 50.4.
Its support among women, 45.4 per cent, is the same as it was in December.
Mr Key's popularity as preferred Prime Minister is down marginally to 64.6 from 65 per cent in December, which was the first full poll after the September general election.
The ponytail tugging incident is such an obvious political beat-up by the opposition and mainstream media over a trifling affair that it has got people’s backs up but not in the way intended.
What has got people’s backs up, and is doing John Key no good at all, is his messing with the national psyche over the New Zealand flag. There seems to be no reason for Key to have instigated this ‘cause’ except some vain desire to leave a ‘legacy’, as I have said since the idea was first mooted over a year ago.
It is this silly project that is calling his premiership into question. The flag debate is causing as much, if not more, angst among his natural voters as it does the public at large. The timing could not be worse, coming as it does in the midst of WWI commemorations and the ANZAC Gallipoli 100th anniversary. There was and is no momentum for change at the grass roots level and that is where any debate about the flag should start.
The latest polls suggest he is in for a drubbing and rightly so.
John Key’s dreams of securing a legacy in a new national flag are fast melting away.
The poll conducted by Yahoo New Zealand of 7,321 people found that opposition to a new national flag is at an all-time, record-breaking high.
Of those surveyed, 77% said they were opposed to a flag change compared to just 21% who supported the Prime Minister in his ambitions. 2% were uncommitted or unsure.
It is the unsure voters Key is trying to woo as he has admitted to numerous media companies that, as it currently stands, New Zealanders are not in favour of a flag change.
Pride and arrogance are the enemies of third term governments and as the flag debate goes on it will cause more and more damage to Key’s reputation.