This is strong ACT territory, the party does not get a huge number of party votes, but it does get the electorate votes for the ACT candidate. National encourages this to get a coalition partner in government. Granted, but with National polling so high it could govern alone, wouldn't it be fine if National left ACT to disappear? Whale Oil has already covered this, and he's concerned about what National is thinking for coalition partners in 2014 when their polling will be (in my opinion) inevitably lower than what it is now. My sources tell me that National leaked the poll to shock the ACT party, a warning that it could slip into oblivion if it does not get it's act together and shape up before election day. It shows National's apathy towards the ACT party, saying that they'll push for Goldsmith if Brash doesn't pull finger, leaving John Banks (ACT-4, candidate for Epsom) in second place and the party out of parliament. With a majority looking likely, it doesn't matter to them whether ACT gets in or not, and with the press the party's had it may be a good look not to go in coalition with them anyway.
While I understand their position, this is still irresponsible, even from a National party perspective.
- Whale Oil brought up 2014. If ACT doesn't get in this election, then they will be dead for 2014. My guess is that National won't be polling so high by then, maybe enough to make a coalition, but not enough to govern alone. For this, they'll need an ally, so now is not a good time to kill one off. The Māori Party probably won't do it again, and the Greens would be reluctant to do it. They'll need ACT in the long run.
- Yes they can govern alone, but why not seal the deal? ACT almost always vote the same way, thus strengthening the majority. Every seat that ACT gets from its combined Epsom and party votes, takes seats away from National's opposition (and enemies, last time it took everything out of New Zealand First, thankfully). Not just strengthening a majority, but weakening an opposition.
- MMP is supposed to guarantee a variety of opinions. With every other party looking to get seats quite firmly left of National, it may only benefit National to have a legitimate center-right voice to balance them out, and prevent National from looking crazy as the only right-wing voice.
- Also under MMP, the small parties tend to get the blame in place of the big ones. National will be far more accountable governing alone and will cop a lot of negativity when things go wrong, having no scapegoat to take the fall. ACT has taken a lot of the bad publicity for National on the right, especially for things like the Auckland Council amalgamation, and still been in parliament since the party began. Same can't be said for Winston First…
- Does National really want to risk splitting the right wing vote?!