NZ Election 2020: Winston Peters' own staff are predicting his political demise

Newshub can reveal that Winston Peters' own staff are predicting his political demise on Saturday, with multiple sources saying most of his Beehive team have given up hope of his return. 

The New Zealand First leader is the most recognisable man in New Zealand politics, often referred to as 'kingmaker' for holding the balance of power after elections. 

He's known for being a game-changer in politics, being a "handbrake" on bad ideas in Government, and sparking laughter in Parliament for cracking jokes about his fellow politicians.

But according to sources in Team Winston, he could soon be adding job-seeker to the list. 

Sources close to Peters have told Newshub it's over for Peters. But Peters doesn't see it that way. 

"Let me tell you, there's a surge on and you're not going to stop it," he said on Wednesday, when asked what his chances are of making it back to Parliament. 

On Tuesday, a party was thrown for Peters' ministerial staff on the seventh floor of the Beehive where his office is. A thank you and farewell while the boss was on the campaign trail. 

Peters thinks his entire team backs him to get back into Parliament. 

"Yes, I do," he told Newshub. 

Well, they don't. A farewell speech is even being prepared for Peters. And despite an extraordinary four-decade-long career, almost all his parliamentary leader colleagues don't back his return either. 

"Well, it's up to the voters," said National leader Judith Collins of Peters' potential return. "But I wouldn't bank on it." 

"I think it's highly unlikely," said Green Party co-leader James Shaw, which co-leader Marama Davidson agreed with. 

ACT leader David Seymour gave a flat "no" when asked if he thought Peters had a chance of returning to Parliament. 

But Labour leader Jacinda Ardern wouldn't rule it out. 

"Voters decide, not me," she said. 

There are still some in Peters' team who believe all this campaigning is worth it and that he can win. They're watching to see if National's vote fails and NZ First scoops it up. 

Peters is also convinced of a comeback, pitching himself as the underdog. 

"It's not the size of the dog in the fight that matters. It's the size of the fight in the dog," he told a crowd of supporters. 

And it's canine specific.

"We are no poodle," he joked. 

Peters was asked what percentage of the vote he thinks he'll get on Saturday. 

"Enough to make you feel embarrassed," he said. 

Peters laughed when asked what he will do when he retires. According to some of his staff, we may find out in a few days' time.

Analysis by Political Editor Tova O'Brien

Winston Peters had a lot going for him this term. 

He started out as a statesman, had a successful stint as Acting Prime Minister, was well-regarded in foreign affairs, his ministers did well splashing cash around the regions, and with the Defence Force he flexed his coalition muscle. 

He should have played more to those strengths on the campaign and tried to get some of Jacinda Ardern's stardust to rub off on him rather than attacking the Government of which he was a part. 

Now of course, throw in the Serious Fraud Office charges against the NZ First Foundation. 

Peters reverted to this type of campaign - attack as the best form of defence - when he could have just played to his strengths and reminded people about his achievements.