Opinion: Flag fail won't break 'Brand Key'
John Key might have lost face over the flag fail but he is unlikely to have lost any support where it really counts -- at the ballot box.
The result is much closer than expected and with a big turnout the Prime Minister can legitimately argue that flag change was worth a crack.
And while John Philip Key is tonight officially a full-scale loser, in my view it will hurt, but not break, Brand Key.
The political truth is that people will care more about things like consistently low interest rates and keeping their jobs than whether the Prime Minister lost the flag debate.
Yes it was a fail, yes he looks like a bit of a dick, yes it tarnishes his legacy, but no it does not mean he will lose the next election.
He has escaped to Hawaii without a political bloody nose.
John Key was looking for a legacy with the flag. But in the end he is a transactional politician who cares about winning and power -- a win at the next election will wash it all away.
In all the Newshub/Reid Research polls leading up to this when it was 65 percent to keep and 30 percent to change, National's support was not dented.
Now the country has increasingly come round to change as the vote got closer, there is unlikely to be a real backlash.
And remember, polls also show a huge crossover of those voting against change and with those who hate John Key.
John Key has consistently played a "clutch game" on this, knowing that he would probably never win but the closer he got the better the fallout would be.
One of John Key's strengths is that he moves on. On the flag, he knew the loss was going to come and moved on long ago.
This is not John Key's first big loss either -- remember the Northland by-election when Winston Peters gave him a whipping? Well a lot of people, probably including me, said that was a decent dent to Brand Key - and it wasn't.
Getting out of town is all part of John Key’s PR plan. He will chuck the Kyle Lockwood pin in his bedside drawer and wake up tomorrow and console himself with a Creme Egg. John Key has already moved on.