Duncan Garner: It's a coronavirus election - and COVID has become an excuse not to talk about the ugly stuff

OPINION: Political scientist Bryce Edwards has called the start of this election campaign the most lacklustre ever. He's right.

COVID has dwarfed everything in our community - it dominates every discussion. It's used as an excuse not to do something, not to debate something, and for a Government that may want to duck and hide on some issues, COVID has practically been its saviour - as much as Ardern.

The list of failures is well-known: capital gains tax, child poverty, Kiwibuild, families still living in motels, rail to Auckland Airport - but we only have so much time right now.

COVID has pushed those issues to the sideline.

Ardern's response to COVID, her leadership and her ownership of the issue, has been as remarkable as it was risky.

From day one when she made the call to front it and take responsibility, she put her leadership on the line. Deal with it poorly, and I have no doubt she would have been turfed from the Beehive. 

But the polls are good: she's reaping the rewards of a winter of hard slog, and over the weekend, we celebrated 100 days of being COVID-free in the community. Look across the ditch, and Victoria is facing hundreds of new cases a day.

So it is a COVID election. And conveniently, it's become an excuse not to talk about the ugly stuff.

But six weeks is a long campaign. The media get bored and will look for trouble as much as National will. 

The polls will tighten up: 42 days is a long time to go mistake-free for anyone.

Ardern will be nervously guarding her position.

It's up to the artillery of troublemakers in Opposition to get her out of the COVID trenches. If they do - then we have a fight on our hands.

Duncan Garner is the host of The AM Show.