When pushed, the leadership told MPs Labour is on about 55 percent and National 34 percent. That’s less than the 35 percent the party was polling under former leader Simon Bridges the week before Muller rolled him.
It follows former deputy leader Paula Bennett’s resignation revenge dance with comedian Tom Sainsbury on Monday. Bennett told Sainsbury about her resignation before even telling her boss Muller.
The dance followed a skit full of pointed digs at the man who rolled her.
“F you to the National Party,” Sainsbury said in his impersonation of Bennett. “Sayonara Todd – a big F you… no, I’m not going to say that I’m going to keep it civil.”
Bennett brushed it off on Tuesday as a bit of fun.
“Let’s be fair, Todd was never going to look good in a kimono so I needed some time to do that with Tom,” she laughed. “The dancing was obviously me but it wasn’t me doing the F… I know you know that.”
Muller, when asked how he felt about Bennett endorsing the video, said there are worse videos about him on the internet.
“Oh look, according to my daughter there are all sorts of TikTok videos around with me that are even worse so I just have to run with it.”
Newshub checked and Muller was right. There’s an expletive laden tirade from one of New Zealand’s first viral sensations: Karen.
In the video she says she would “rather have Simon back” and says Muller deserves “20 whacks”.
Muller’s frosty reception on social media was not as nasty as the tens of thousands of negative comments former leader Simon Bridges received before being ousted. But Bridges’ numbers were better in National’s polls.
Bridges, when asked if he had seen any internal polling since Muller took over, said, “You know we don’t talk about those things.”
Muller was also tight-lipped.
“Tova, I never tell you what goes on in caucus… what gets discussed in caucus stays in caucus.”
But apparently that’s not the case.
National sitting on less than the 35 percent the party was polling under Bridges the week before Muller rolled him is perhaps not what MPs who backed Muller had expected.
National MP Judith Collins has admitted she gave Muller her vote on coup day despite Bridges and Bennett thinking she was in their corner.
“It’s how much support comes both ways, isn’t it?” Collins said on Tuesday.
Her response to being asked if she was sad to see Bennett go suggests the former leadership team should have seen it coming.
“Ah, not really.”
Analysis by Political Editor Tova O’Brien
Eighty-one days out from an election, the constant leaks to Newshub are incredibly damaging – but they were damaging before under Simon Bridges’ watch, too.
Newshub has also been told by MPs they were squabbling at caucus over law and order – some MPs think National is going too soft and too left under the new guard.
But the real problem for National is that leaky parties become synonymous with infighting, navel gazing and distraction from the Opposition’s actual tasks at hand: holding the Government to account and trying to win an election.
And on National’s own numbers – it’s not winning anything.