Opinion: Jacinda Ardern will be hurting over lost popularity

OPINION: The Labour sexual assault investigation and KiwiBuild have alienated a fair chunk of Labour's base - and the latest Newshub-Reid Research Poll shows just how much it's cost them.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is rationalising all this by saying the numbers are higher than the last election and yes, on this poll, she remains in power.

But this will hurt - she is acutely aware of how critical her popularity is to Labour.

Our last poll, which had Labour at over 50 percent, was a post-Budget poll - governments always get a bump from those.

The Prime Minister was also being universally praised for her response to the Christchurch terror attack.

So shooting up the way hers and Labour's did was totally expected, and akin to former National leader John Key's numbers when he was at the height of his popularity.

Like Key back then, Ardern had political capital to burn - but then she took a blow torch to it.

Opinion: Jacinda Ardern will be hurting over lost popularity

Our latest Newshub-Reid Research Poll shows just how tied Ardern's popularity is to Labour's - her preferred Prime Minister plummet is almost identical to the slide Labour's taken.

Likewise, keep things in perspective - although this is better for National leader Simon Bridges, there's still a gulf between his popularity and Ardern's and he still can't govern.

Opinion: Jacinda Ardern will be hurting over lost popularity

Finding friends will be critical to both major parties and Labour definitely has a head start.

Although New Zealand First doesn't cross the 5 percent threshold to get into Parliament, this poll bump will be heartening to leader Winston Peters. It's very likely he'll grow that support in election year.

Right now, I cannot imagine a world where Peters works with Bridges. You don't call someone "Simple Simon", take the piss out of their accent and even call for their resignation before jumping into government with them. There is no olive branch big enough to undo the damage Peters has inflicted on his relationship with Bridges.

Even on Sunday, Peters described National as a "sterile neoliberal party choking the country" when we spoke over the phone. But he did offer a solution - National could reform itself. For Peters that would almost certainly demand a change of leadership if he was to form any kind of blue/black/pink Government.

Opinion: Jacinda Ardern will be hurting over lost popularity

The red/black/green Government has a different MMP problem on its hands - how to disentangle themselves in election year without scoring own goals and damaging the Government and the potential to work together again.

No matter how you cut it, this poll shows we're in for a ripsnorter come Decision 2020.

Tova O'Brien is Newshub's political editor.