New Zealanders do not want a dirty election campaign, according to the latest Newshub-Reid Research Poll - but Judith Collins has officially declared it dirty.
Politicians have promised a clean campaign for Decision 2020. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she'd offer up a "positive", "factual" and "robust" campaign, while National leader Judith Collins said she informed her caucus to keep it clean.
But even with the best intentions, so far the tone has been grim and grubby. Private medical details were leaked; there was a ministerial affair and subsequent sacking; and an MP sent unsolicited explicit images - Newshub has seen the screenshots.
Collins has now officially declared the campaign "dirty".
"I would have thought that the bullying of William Wood, our candidate in Palmerston North, has been very nasty and dirty," she told reporters on Wednesday.
She was referring to fallout from a photo surfacing of 18-year-old Wood four years ago when he was 14 appearing to impersonate German dictator Adolf Hitler.
"I thought it was a shocking attack on a young man," Collins said.
The vast majority of voters do not want a filthy campaign.
The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll asked, on a scale of one to five where one is squeaky clean and five is really dirty, what sort of campaign you want to see.
Overwhelmingly Kiwis said they want it clean.
Taking out those in the middle and those who don't know, 80.5 percent of Kiwis want a clean campaign while 7.1 percent want it dirty.
The Prime Minister told Newshub it's up to politicians to make sure standards don't slip.
"It's our job to make sure we keep politics really focused and keep politics really clean."
There is a litany of unfounded rumours doing the rounds about politicians - more pervasive and pernicious than ever, thanks to social media.
"False rumours circulate around politics and have done for a number of years; unfortunately at election time they particularly spike," Ardern said.
Collins told Newshub she's just as familiar with rumours.
"I've been around in politics long enough to know that most of what we hear in terms of gossip is wrong."
Prime Ministers tend to be the butt of scuttlebutt. Former Prime Minister John Key was targeted and his predecessor Helen Clark before him - and now it's Ardern.
Newshub asked the Prime Minister if rumours can be hurtful.
"Look, in politics rumours do fly particularly in election years. It's a very unfortunate part of the political environment but not something I focus on."
Both Ardern and Collins have made that clear to MPs.
"They are not to be engaged in it themselves and what I would rather what they did is focus utterly and totally on their work," Collins said. "I've made it very plain I do not want us engaging in it at all."
Analysis by Political Editor Tova O'Brien
As a general rule, Newshub doesn't report on rumours and we're not going to start now, but this is a cautionary message this election, not to believe everything you hear.
The rumours appear to be more widespread beyond the beltway than ever before - our newsroom and journalists have been inundated.
The Prime Minister's office is hearing it too - reiterating to Newshub that false rumours are an unfortunate part of the gig that spike in election season.