Opinion: Never write off Winston Peters

Winston Peters.

Never write off Winston Peters. The air is thick with the possibility for him to attract 5% of the vote if he can tap into the right issues. It’s a big, uphill fight but I’ve covered enough campaigns with him to know he shouldn’t be dismissed.

We saw him in action over the weekend. It’s not an original political strategy but it’s one that worked for him for decades; tap into people's frustrations with the Government, make attention-grabbing statements and head out around the country to whip up support.

He'll be fishing from the same pool as a lot of other parties but as we saw in the latest 1News Kantar Public poll there's a 13% chunk of voters who haven’t decided who they’ll go with.

There will be several challenges for the former Deputy Prime Minister:

  • The party is really Winston Peters First. He is the main attraction with a little dash of Shane Jones on the side. That means he has to do all the heavy lifting on the campaign.
  • Having enough stamina. Peters is an experienced politician but he’s 77 years old.
  • Appealing to younger voters and being seen as relevant, (although he did use the term "woke" over the weekend).
  • Getting traction when he's not in power at the moment.

I also think it's worth noting that political leaders do tend to change their tune on working with New Zealand First, if it’s a choice of being in power or not.

He famously hates polls (unless they are showing positive signs for his party) so let’s see what the next set of numbers shows.

For the record, New Zealand First has been steady at 3% for the last two 1News Kantar Public polls, very much in the running a year out from an election.