Key's strategy pays off

As the market appears to have been indicating yesterday, John Key's teapot strategy, which I outlined on iPredict Election 2011 on Thursday, has worked. 

According to polling carried out for Fairfax and reported on Stuff this morning, voters overwhelmingly believe that the tea party conversation should remain confidential and they back Mr Key over the media.

Political commentators are now being forced to shift their positions as they realise Mr Key was right and they were wrong. 

I think I was the first to do a 180-degree u-turn. 

When Mr Key stormed out of his press conference on Wednesday, I thought he had made a major mistake

By the time it came to writing my NBR column on Thursday morning, published in the print edition yesterday, I had thought more about it and obtained some additional information.  The column was called "Key survives his storm in a teacup" and that also informed my iPredict Election 2011 comments.

John Armstrong in the Herald is going a similar process. 

On Thursday, he was saying Mr Key was going from one tactical blunder to the next and was losing control.  On Friday, he suggested Mr Key may have completely lost the plot

This morning, its all different: the week just gone was "the best and the worst" for Mr Key.  John now clearly sees that "public opinion has clearly swung in behind him in his quest to defend [Mr Key's] right to privacy".

Vernon Small at the Dom-Post and Fairfax network is a column or two behind, but his position is slowly shifting too.  He now says: "National, meanwhile, has judged (perhaps rightly) that public opinion will be on its side against an intrusive media, especially in the wake of the News of the World scandal."

The genius of Mr Key's strategy is why another senior political figure is also pleading for the election debate to return to other issues. 

Poor old Phil Goff has at least as good overnight polling data from top multinational polling company UMR Research as Mr Key has from local Wellington firm Curia and Fairfax has from Research International

Mr Goff will be getting very similar data as Mr Key and knows that the teapot scandal has actually helped National and hurt Labour - because National is on the right side of public opinion and Labour has sadly been crowded out.

He is pleading this morning for the media to focus on other issues and says he won't be raising the teapot issues in this week's leaders' debates

If you ever wondered why John Key is Prime Minister and John Armstrong, Vernon Small, me and Phil Goff never will be, this week's events mean you don't have to wonder again.  He was right and we (at least initially) were all wrong.

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