Jenna Lynch analysis: Second poll confirms Labour could take back power, Newshub understands

Publicly shrugging off the sting of a bad poll should be a reflex action for political leaders.

The lines write themselves: "Just one poll", "not focussed on poll numbers", "focused on Kiwis" etc, etc.

One poll is easy to dismiss. A trend is not so.

Newshub has learned Labour's internal poll also has the coalition falling short of cobbling the numbers to keep the Treasury benches.

In its internals, undertaken by Talbot Mills, Labour is neck-and-neck with the Nats - the red team on 33 percent and the blue on 34 percent.

Where the Talbot Mills differs from last night's 1 News Verian poll is New Zealand First on 6 percent - keeping their heads above the 5 percent threshold needed to score a place in the Parliament.

Even so, with the third leg of the coalition ACT on 7 percent - on the Talbot Mills poll the right would only make it to 59 seats - not enough to govern.

Perhaps that's why we are seeing a more panicked response from the Prime Minister than is truly warranted from one poll - especially this far from the next election.

Christopher Luxon's response was that the presentation of the Verian poll on 1 News was "a bit frothy and sensationalist". He said it was "over the top".

The presentation of the poll does not change the numbers. And to dismiss them would be at the PM's own peril.

While there's no exact science in pointing to why the public feels that way, it doesn't take a political science degree to figure out that headlines about job cuts and the fiscal cupboard being bare don't fill voters with the same warm fuzzies as big blue buses bounding across the country promising to "get our country back on track".

In Opposition you can promise the world, in Government you have to deliver it. And the delivery thus far has been a lot of cutting. That's no easy sell.

"Well, it's not positive at the moment because we're having to make some pretty tough decisions. It's not easy when you've got people losing their jobs in the public service. It's not easy, right," Luxon explained.

"It is not easy to actually put sanctions on beneficiaries not holding their obligations on the jobseeker benefit, it is not easy to evict unruly tenants out of [Kainga Ora]. So, I get all of that, right. But we have a hell of a mess to fix, we are going to turn the show around. And I am sorry, but I am not going to get bounced around by polls."

Luxon is unapologetic about his style of governing. Seasoned politicians know (or very quickly learn) it is very difficult to get the tricky stuff through without bringing the public with you. An electoral mandate does not grant immediate licence for a Government to do whatever it wants.

New Zealand has in the last few decades had Prime Ministers who acted as chief communicators and salespeople of their Government's agenda. Luxon hasn't yet shown he is keen to follow that trend with such vigour.

The Government's prescribed medicine for the economic situation doesn't taste all that nice, and it's not an overnight cure.

You simply cannot fix rampant and persistent inflation overnight, and unfortunately for the coalition it often doesn't matter the context of that problem - in the public's mind the blame often lies at the feet of the Government.

Polls are indeed only a snapshot in time, but this snapshot is showing voters are not convinced that the right guys are in charge.

And ultimately - voters are always right.

Jenna Lynch is Newshub's Political Editor