National MPs have told Newshub the numbers are being done to roll Simon Bridges, with one of them - David Bennett - even putting it in writing, telling a constituent "we're working on it".
Another MP told Newshub there will be a vote of no confidence at next Tuesday's National Party caucus meeting, and new details from the Newshub-Reid Research Poll reveal the public's verdict on Bridges is just as damning.
Newshub's poll asked voters to describe their political leaders in a single word.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's were overwhelmingly positive. Her top 10 were: 'amazing', 'good', 'compassionate', 'leader', 'great', 'strong', 'empathetic', 'capable', 'excellent' and 'awesome'.
Topping the few negatives was: 'inexperienced socialist' and 'fluffy communist'.
The Prime Minister described herself to Newshub as "focussed".
But the feedback on Simon Bridges was not so positive.
'Idiot' topped the chart, followed by 'don't know', 'average', 'good', 'annoying', 'weak', 'useless', 'unsure' and 'disappointing'.
There are a few positives in there but you have to fossick around to find them, and 'good' and 'okay' are hardly glowing endorsements of the Opposition leader.
National's Hamilton East MP David Bennett received an email obtained by Newshub saying, "Time to roll Simon. Landslide loss in September otherwise", to which Bennett replied, "Yeah working on it".
In an unusual turn of events, National MP Judith Collins is one of the few people in the caucus saying nice things about Bridges.
"He's very hardworking and has a quality of tenacity which is admirable," she told Newshub.
It comes after Bridges took National to a shocking low of 30.6 percent in Monday night's Newshub-Reid Research Poll results.
Some of his other MPs had good things to say.
"Our leader is Simon Bridges - he's the best leader for the National Party and for New Zealand at this time," said National MP Brett Hudson.
But it seems his time is nearly up.
Here's what some other National MPs told Newshub on Tuesday - all different MPs and none of them Bennett.
- "He'll be destroyed in the election campaign"
- "There's no way he can survive... There's definitely going to be a vote of no confidence on Tuesday"
- "When Simon speaks the public puts on the metaphorical mute button"
- "It's time to move"
MPs were also unimpressed at Bridges' dig at the Prime Minister on Monday for dying her hair when he only got a haircut. He told Newshub, "Well, there's no hair dye - just saying."
A couple of MPs defined it as "Terrible, worse than the poll" and "Unfathomable".
Newshub has been told the numbers are being done to roll Bridges as leader and potential leadership contenders are bracing - except perhaps the most obvious contender: Judith Collins.
She told Newshub, "I've got no intention of doing any such thing."
Analysis by Political Editor Tova O'Brien
These words speak to the depth of public sentiment.
Politics is all about numbers but those words are visceral and have an impact in a way that numbers can't.
It's quite awful reading about Simon Bridges - it's mean - but it's a real snapshot into how people really feel about him.
And it extends to his caucus - one National MP told us today there used to be an ABC Club - 'Anyone But Collins' as leader.
Now ABBA is gaining traction - the 'Anyone But Bridges Alliance'.
MPs are using this week's recess to plot. It'll all come to a head next Tuesday when they come back to Wellington for a caucus meeting.
As you heard some MPs say there will be a vote of no confidence, others say it'll be more a testing of the waters.
But either way Bridges is digging in, he won't give up without a fight. It's shaping up to be a bloody mess.