Second poll puts Peters well ahead in Northland
See also: Northland by-election: Up the poll
A OneNews-Colmar Brunton poll of 501 eligible Northland voters, released tonight, puts NZ First leader Winston Peters on 53%, National's Mark Osborne on 36% and Labour's Willow-Jean Prime on 9% – a drop over previous polls that indicates her party's supporters are heeding Andrew Little's hints to fall in behind Winston.
The poll also found 69% of Labour voters planned to vote for Peters, and that 71% believed new infrastructure including expanded bridges and ultrafast broadband was only being offered because National feared losing the seat.
It closely mirrors a 3News-Reid Research Northland poll released last night, which had Peters on 54%, Osborne on 34% and Prime on 10%.
National's Mike Sabin held the seat at the general election with a 9300 majority, one of his party's largest winning margins.
But Prime Minister John Key acknowledges there is a possibility his party could lose.
"I've been saying for a period of time it's going to be a difficult and challenging situation up there," the PM told media.
"And that really reflects the fact that with the other parties not either running a candidate or throwing their weight behind Mr Peters, that changes the playing field much more in Mr Peters' favour.
"So we probably go in as the under-dog."
Mr Key cut short a visit to Japan to campaign for Mr Osborne. He heads up North today.
Political commentator Bryce Edwards says National has more campaign workers on the ground in Northland, which could prove an important factor if the race is close on Saturday.
However, Mr Osborne does not seem to be building momentum. Reportedly, only 14 people attended his campaign rally in Kaikohe.
Mr Peters' campaign has followed two tracks: claiming National has taken Northland for granted, and making insinuations over the events that led to Mr Sabin's resignation. He has also been able to exploit an unexpectedly weak performance by Mr Osborne, who has been mired in a string of minor controversies.