National drops below 30 percent in new poll as Jacinda Ardern's approval skyrockets

The National Party has fallen to 29 percent in a new poll while Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's approval has skyrocketed, eclipsing Simon Bridges.

The poll was paid for by corporate clients of Labour's polling company UMR so they could get a snapshot of the current political scene, and the results have been confirmed by Newshub.

The poll puts Labour on 55 percent, which would enable it to govern alone, without its current coalition partner New Zealand First or confidence and supply partner the Greens.

Labour leader Ardern's popularity is at a record high, according to the poll, taking 65 percent of the preferred Prime Minister rating, while National leader Bridges is on 7 percent. 

The results come amid backlash against Bridges from both his MPs and National supporters after he criticised the Government in a Facebook post for extending the alert level 4 lockdown for a week. 

Newshub looked through the comments on the post last week and found people who appeared to be legitimate National Party supporters backing the Government en masse in its decision to extend the lockdown. 

The post, which has so far received 29,000 comments, led to some National MPs speaking out against Bridges last week. They told Newshub they were unimpressed by the tone he had taken during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Newshub understands National caucus members have not been shown their own internal polls since early February, and when that was put to Bridges on Tuesday he didn't dispute it. 

"We talk about polling periodically but I'm not going to discuss internal matters like that with the media."

The National Party leader said earlier this week he is "100 percent" sure his leadership is secure and makes "no excuses" for what he said in the Facebook post.

"I've seen the comments online... but that's just not my focus."

National MPs confidentially told Newshub of "deep concern about the way things are going", that there was a "tone issue" with the Facebook post, and that the "membership is not happy".

One said, "List MPs and marginal seats want to get the party vote up but they can't do that with a toxic leader and toxic deputy". 

Newshub learned on Monday that National MP Nick Smith wrote to the caucus expressing disappointment about Bridges setting up a new COVID-19 policy team that Smith felt doubled up on his role as chair of National's policy committee.

The UMR poll puts the Greens on 5 percent, meaning they would just make it back into Parliament on the party vote, while New Zealand First is on 6 percent, and ACT is on 3.1 percent.  

National won 44.4 percent of the vote at the 2017 election.