The slick and the dead calm
This election is the tale of two campaigns. One is slick, polished and organised to the last detail. The other is ad hoc, chaotic and oddly low-energy.
National leader John Key whizzed his way across Auckland on Monday, barely pausing for a breath. A brisk shopping centre walkabout was memorable, mainly for the sheer numbers who stopped him for a selfie. The campaign bus rolled up, stacked with supporters in their Team Key sweaters.
Key is merciless in keeping the exchanges swift - a grin for the camera phone, and an exchange of pleasantries and he's on to the next voter.
Fast forward a day, and his opposite number David Cunliffe was on the road in Rotorua, campaigning with ex-television presenter Tamati Coffey.
The day started with a selfie - and there were plenty - but to be blunt, Coffey was the bigger drawcard.
A stop-off at a local primary school excited pupils, especially when told a Labour government would give them each a tablet. But with only a handful of eligible voters in the room, reporters wondered how effective the visit was.
A scheduled town centre walkabout was delayed by 35 minutes as Cunliffe, Coffey and activists stopped for a curry. "An army marches on its stomach," Cunliffe said later. On the stroll he talked with eight people, two of whom were in town from overseas.
From there, the "Tamati Tour" took them to a tourism college for a quick Q and A with students, a boutique hotel, a shop, and the local Citizens Club, where Coffey's dad Gerald is the chef.
Energy spokesman David Shearer flew in to help Cunliffe make a policy announcement on NZ Power, Labour's plan to drop electricity prices.
At first glance, it appeared to be a retread of the policy unveiled by Shearer last year before he resigned. Cunliffe said as much: "This is a re-announcement of our previous policy and a re-commitment to it."
Shearer stayed silent during the press conference. It later turned out there were two new elements to the scheme - standardised bills and a proposed investigation into pre-pay practices.
Cunliffe versus Key is a popularity contest not being fought on a level playing field. The Labour leader has been in the job barely a year, and has struggled against character assassinations from both inside and outside his party. But yesterday his campaign should have been buoyed by Coffey's star power. Instead, it was inexplicably flat.