'I simply don't believe it': Simon Bridges rejects poor polling

Simon Bridges is continuing to reject polls that show his party's popularity is on the slide.

The last Newshub-Reid Research poll, conducted in June, showed National plunging to 37.4 percent - and without a viable coalition partner to get them across the 50 percent line. Labour was on 50.8 percent - strong enough to govern on its own.

And leaked internal polling from Labour earlier this week had the party on 38 percent. 

Newshub poll
Photo credit: Newshub.

"I simply don't believe it," Bridges told Newshub Nation on Saturday, implying Labour's polling was fake.

"It's just not what we see... Is the Labour Party looking like a party that's confident in its polling, in the frenzy that they are? They just simply aren't. The reality is... I believe the National Party is the most popularly supported party in New Zealand. "

Bridges has struggled in the preferred Prime Minister stakes, yet to get into double figures in Newshub's polling. He says that doesn't matter.

"I don't believe leadership is just some crass popularity contest. I believe it is much more important than that. It is about the vision and the values and securing victory for National in 2020. 

"In that rugby game we're talking about, in the second half, we are very strong. I think we've got our best plays to come. I believe we are the best campaigners in New Zealand."

Bridges compared being in Opposition to a rugby match a few times in the interview with Newshub political editor Tova O'Brien. 

"We're mid-term, we're halfway through the game. I think our second half is going to be much stronger than our first-half. We're, if you want to put it this way, a fitter team, a more experienced team. We've got the talent and we're going to go well. 

"The first half has had its ups and downs. But the truth is we've held together, we've been unified and we've been strong."

National's the only party this term which has lost an MP - Jami-Lee Ross, who accused Bridges of being corrupt and is now an independent. Bridges admitted since 2017, the party has "gone through a lot of change".

"There's no John Key anymore - at least as a Member of Parliament - Steven Joyce, Bill English and so on. This year we're trying to make the point, very clearly, the focus is on you, on your family, on New Zealand. It's not on a whole lot of other stuff."

This weekend the party faithful will meet for their annual conference. A new promo clip has been released, featuring Bridges standing against a plain grey background pushing the party's new catchphrase: "Our bottom line: you." 

Simon Bridges in the new promo.
Simon Bridges in the new promo. Photo credit: National Party