Rollercoaster polls to match rollercoaster election
OPINION: Time to start reading the tea leaves? That may be a more accurate way to read this election than the polls.
The rollercoaster election is reflected in the latest result. Either support is swinging wildly between Labour and National as we hit the final straight of this election campaign - or the polls are wrong.
It feels like maybe it's a bit of both.
Thursday night's One News-Colmar Brunton poll has Labour on 44 per cent support, ahead of National on 40 per cent and the minor parties fading fast.
* Jacinda effect checked and reversed as National jumps into big lead
* National drops to 39 in new bombshell poll, Labour remains ahead
* Labour's handbrake turn on tax working group comes none too soon
But that's about a million miles away from the Newshub poll, only two days ago, which had National 10 points ahead and with potentially enough support to govern alone.
So what's happening? The word the parties are using is volatile - and that seems to sum it up. Anecdotally it feels like people are chopping and changing their mind day by day, probably a symptom of suddenly being presented with a choice for what feels like the first time in nearly a decade.
A lot of the churn is coming off the minor parties - just weeks ago a rampant NZ First leader Winston Peters looked like he was going to hold all the cards on election night. But the air is slowly being let out on his support.
But even that is only part explanation. The polls are clearly out of whack with each other, which means we're probably not going to know till election night which way things will go.
But Labour's support is clearly swinging wildly - Jacinda Ardern's move on Thursday to put the tax issue to bed is a sign that it knew the confusion over its tax policy was hurting.
Ardern made the second "captain's call" of her leadership, putting the implementation of any recommendations of a tax working group on a capital gains tax out till after the next election. The first "captain's call" was to decide any recommendations tackling the housing crisis would be implemented before the election.
The prime motivation for the about face is understood to be concern that National's claims about Labour hiking income taxes were starting to get traction.
The gift of Ardern's leadership to Labour is that she has made people start listening to Labour again on a bunch of issues that voters had long tuned out of.
But the tax issue was making it increasingly difficult for Ardern to be heard.
Labour will be kicking itself that it let the issue get so out of hand. The party's original position under Andrew Little was to punt any decisions by a tax working group out to the next election before implementation, and that was the right one.
But did it blink too soon? That's what the latest poll might suggest. Even Labour's strategists know that's not the case, however.
Which means from now on we're just going to have to do this the old fashioned way.
We're flying blind until election night, people.