A new poll has found an increasing hostility against Prime Minister John Key, particularly among women.
The first Fairfax Media/Ipsos political poll shows National has enough support for a third term, with 44.9 per cent to Labour's 32.6 per cent, assuming the current mix of parties. But it reveals a growing divide, with increasing numbers expressing a sense of anger and distrust.
Interviewers asked people to describe Mr Key in as few words as possible. The pollsters said many voters rated him a straight-shooter and a good or excellent leader, but a significant number thought he was arrogant, smarmy and out of touch.
Mr Key still has the confidence of an overwhelming majority - 63 per cent saying he had a clear vision for the country and was a strong and effective leader.
Asset sales may be driving the mood, with the survey revealing New Zealand is divided over the issue.
Among the 49.8 per cent of people who think the country is on the right track, 86 per cent of them are National voters, and nearly half think the right economic decisions are being taken, with asset sales a part of that.
But among the 50.2 per cent who think we are on the wrong track, asset sales and foreign ownership were hugely emotive, and sparked strong opposition.
Before the last election, polls showed around 50 per cent of women supported National, but that is down to 39 per cent, with education and asset sales often being cited as the main issues.
Left-wing commentator Bryce Edwards said there was a noticeable hardening in attitudes against Mr Key."I sense more hostility towards him than there was, but I get the sense it's among those who are predisposed to be against him."
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