It's the kind of poll that says what they want it to say. But it's only one poll

Today's 3News-Reid Research poll is one that will put a smile on the face of all the bigger party leaders, or at least is has a silver lining for them all.

National is down to 47.5 percent. National's strategists accept that if they fall below 47 percent they're into risk territory, but they also have always accepted that would likely happen. They will need their minor friends in ACT and United Future, and possibly the Maori Party (and may well be worried by the rise of Internet-Mana and the way that could either destroy the Maori Party or compel them to side with Labour). But the good thing for National is that it's hit such territory early and it can push a message it's so keen to push (no, not the one about Labour and the Greens being crazy tax n' spenders. The other one, about it being closer than people realise). This is a signal to soft National supporters that they can't assume a National victory and need to turn out for them.

And, of course, let familiarity not blind us to the fact that it sits 18 points clear of its nearest rival, a position any party would want to be in.

Labour will be pleased just to be going the right way and at nearly 30, to be getting back within a few points of being serious challengers again. And they'll be pleased to have done it on the back of policy and its party launch, as Dirty Politics has little if anything to do with this poll.

The Greens will be pleased to be holding at 12-13 percent, especially at a time when Labour is growing. It means the centre-left vote is growing, not just moving between the pair of parties.

New Zealand First will be pleased to be all-but on five percent and close again to being a potential king-maker. That gives it relevance and oxygen and places it in a good space to push on above five percent; the fear for both it and the Conservatives is that there are only so many voters in thepart of the spectrum they're competing and they want to make sure that they don't somehow split that vote at below five percent each, denying their supporters any voice in the House.

Below that, it's tough going. The Conservatives will be frustrated and ACT must feel utterly unloved. Even having tried playing the race card, it still is on track to remain a one seat vassal of National, rather than its goal of rebuilding itself as a libertarian brand.

No chance yet to see what impact that and the TVNZ poll have on our Poll of Polls; not a heck of a lot in one poll. And it is only one poll. But whether or not it's part of a trend, it reforces the message each of those parties wants to send to voters.

National: Don't be complacent. Labour: Don't give up on us. The Greens: We're steady not sliding. New Zealand First: A vote for us won't be wasted.

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