NZ Election 2020: National's marginal and list MPs' jobs at risk in countdown to polling day

It's an incredibly anxious countdown to polling day for National's marginal and list MPs who are facing an uncertain future - they're the ones who will lose their jobs if Judith Collins can't deliver the goods this Saturday. 

Collins lent a helping hand as leader campaigning in one Wellington battleground electorate on Tuesday, but she neglected another. 

Former Prime Minister Sir Jim Bolger seemed optimistic as he ran into Collins on the campaign trail, backing the blue team. 

"Oh, I think we're doing very well here in Otaki," he said. 

As for the rest of the country, that's on Collins. 

National's Wellington MPs hope they haven't been delivered a kiss of death this campaign, especially in the marginal seats where National risks being crushed. 

National's Hutt South candidate Chris Bishop and Ohariu candidate Brett Hudson are in their final few days of campaigning, and Collins was asked if she could guarantee they will still have jobs come October 18. 

"I tell you what I can guarantee, is that they will have better jobs than Phil Twyford," she said, earning her laughter and applause from the crowd. 

It may not be so funny come election night. 

Ohariu was closely won by Labour in 2017, and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern's popularity makes it even harder for National's marginal and list MPs like Hudson.

"It's going to a be contest between the four principle ideas I've put out for the electorate and the popularity of the party leader," Hudson told Newshub. 

"I think Judith Collins is enormously popular," he said, when asked if he wished Collins was as popular as Ardern. "I'm glad she's here - I'm delighted!"

At least Collins visited Ohariu. Hutt South MP Bishop was left campaigning sans-leader. He won the Labour stronghold last election but only just. 

"I've been visiting Hutt South so much," Collins said, when asked why she wasn't visiting the electorate on Tuesday. 

"I think every MP wants the leader of their party to be in their electorate during the campaign, but you know, there are 68 electorates," Bishop said. 

Last week Bishop liked a tweet bagging Collins after she prayed in a church before casting her vote in front of the media. It's not something they've discussed.

The tweet, by Sean Plunket, said: "Jim Bolger was the most seriously religious PM I ever encountered. Not once did I remember him using his attendance at church for a photo op."

"It's totally ridiculous," Collins said. 

"It's my fat fingers," Bishop added. 

And possibly not alone with the hands thing, Megan Hands, National's Rangitata candidate, liked a Facebook post discussing, "the dishonest approach of the National Party... it is disgraceful behaviour". 

"I don't know, haven't seen it and don't worry about silly things like that," Collins said, when asked what she made of the social media activity. 

Her focus is on the economy and roads, re-announcing one on Tuesday peppered with familiar phrases, such as "we'll get the economy moving" and "let's do this". 

When asked if she's co-opting some of Labour's slogans, Collins said, "I guess I'm making fun of them, aren't I?"

Analysis by Political Editor Tova O'Brien

There are just four days to go until the election.

Come Saturday, marginal and list MPs could find themselves out of the job and that is the harsh brutality of politics and election night. It makes dreams come true but also ruthlessly destroys aspirations. 

Labour can smell the blood. Given the polls and the mass exodus of MPs this term, those battleground seats are truly in contention. 

Labour's really honing in on Chris Bishop's Hutt South seat, and it's also looking at Auckland Central, the Wairarapa, East Coast, Nelson and Whanganui.

Labour sees those seats as in-play and it is determined to use Jacinda Ardern's popularity to wrestle them off National. 

If Judith Collins can't lift the National Party vote, critical list MPs like Paul Goldsmith - they're toast as well. 

In a few days' time, Parliament could end up looking and feeling very, very different.