24 Apr 11
The Sunday Star Times says Horizon polling indicates National still faces a problem in the Epsom electorate, where it has stood down to allow Act leader Rodney Hide to win, taking his party to Wellington.
The Star Times says John Key's coalition will again need that to happen, but his own party has expressed displeasure at that.
It reports: Only last week Key hinted National would not try to win Epsom, where it would focus on the party vote. At the same time he indicated his party would run a similar campaign in the Ohariu electorate held by United Future's Peter Dunne.
Key said Act had been loyal and while an Epsom candidate would be selected, the party would campaign harder for candidates in other electorates.
The move could be an unpopular one given Hide's controversial private overseas travel, and his role in David Garrett's resignation over stealing the identity of a baby to get a passport.
Right-wing commentator Matthew Hooton said last week that Epsom was a difficult issue, because if Act won, National could only govern with coalition partners, but there was still a chance it might govern alone if Hide lost.
Hooton wrote in the National Business Review that the only scenario where Hide might scrape in was if National voters believed the party couldn't remain in government without him, and would stay in government with him.
The Horizon poll has Act on just 3.7% support, National on 37.7%, United Future on 1.1% and the Maori Party on 2.4%. Labour is on 23.9%, the Green Party on 9.9% and New Zealand First on 7.4%.
When possible coalitions are factored in, the gap between the two potential governments narrows to 3.7%. While National has shed the lift in support it received after the Canterbury earthquakes – from 41.2% to 37.7%, Labour support also fell, from 27% in March to 23.9%.