Exclusive: Leaked polling shows National below 40 percent under leadership of Simon Bridges

Newshub has been leaked National's internal party polling which shows under Simon Bridges' leadership, National dropped below 40 percent, despite Bridges telling us that had never happened. 

And the timing couldn't be much worse on the eve of the party's annual conference.

Political party conferences are a bit like rock concerts or cult gatherings. The party leaders are the rock gods or cult leaders

Last year National's party conference was all about Bridges.

But this year at the Christchurch Town Hall, there's a pitch shift. Perhaps not a bad move, given Bridges' poor polling  

He took National down to 37.4 percent in Newshub's last poll.

And on Tuesday Newshub was leaked three years of Labour Party internal polling. National was on 38 percent.

On Tuesday, Bridges denied the statistics, and on Friday, he doubled down.

"No, no it didn't, in fact, the reality is we've always been over 40 [percent]," he told Newshub.

But Newshub was leaked years of National Party internal party polling which shows that on March 6 last year, just after Bridges took over, National dipped slightly below 40 to 39 percent.

It's only a smidge under 40, but 40 is the psychological polling barrier - the magic number National MPs have told us could spark a coup against Bridges 

"Right now I know that we're in the 40s I wouldn't get hung up on a number," said Bridges.

And he says there's only one way the polls are heading on polling day proper

"The reality is this National can do better than we did at the last election - 44 percent - that's what I'm shooting for," he said.

It's terrible timing for Bridges. The leak feels like a political hit job and a kick in the kneecaps for the National Party leader.