Prime Minister John Key has delivered a sobering message to National Party faithful, warning that defeat is a very real prospect in September.
Ignoring polls showing National riding high, Key said voter turnout could prove to be the Government's downfall, if voters decide the outcome is a done deal.
Hundreds of National Party delegates have gathered in Wellington for the party's annual conference just over 80 days out form the election.
Recent polls have had National winning enough support to govern alone but Key has been hammering home the message this week that the election campaign could see the gap close up.
Key reminded party delegates that similar polls at the last election resulted in voter apathy.
In the 10 safest National Party seats "where many people obviously thought it was a foregone conclusion" - turnout fell by more than 6 percentage points compared to 2008, Key said.
"If that happens again in September we could easily find ourselves on the Opposition benches - that is the reality."
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