Two years ago, NZ First upset National by winning the Northland by-election.
Now, the question is whether Labour can do the same thing in the Northcote by-election.
The Northcote by-election might look like a romp in the park for National – but in reality could be anyone’s. National launched its campaign in Northcote on Sunday, and has a lot riding on its candidate Dan Bidois holding the seat.
National’s leader Simon Bridges knows how quickly things can turn better than most. He was at the sharp end of the Northland drubbing, after scarpering up there in its early days to deliver locals the promise of 10 new bridges.
The Northcote by-election is Simon Bridges’ first test as National leader.
If National’s candidate Dan Bidois wins the seat, then Simon Bridges can feel relief that, at least for the moment, the country, and what is a safe National seat, approve of him.
If Labour pull out a shocker and win Northcote, however, then Simon Bridges should be worried, especially as Labour have to deal with the Greens splitting the left vote.
And while I do see it as exceedingly unlikely that Labour and Shanan Halbert will win Northcote, it is worth noting that Bridges was only at 10% in the preferred PM poll, compared to Ardern’s 37%.
And I can also disgruntled Northcote residents using the by-election as a protest vote.
Simon Bridges, National, and Dan Bidois must all campaign like it’s the 2020 election – there is no way they can afford a repeat of Northland back in 2015.