Richard Prebble makes an interesting observation in The Listener:
. . . The polls are amazing. John Key is not only our most popular Prime Minister in the history of polling, but also the most popular leader in the Western world. Key is on 62%; Barack Obama is on 41%. Tony Abbott was elected in a landslide and, still in the honeymoon period, is on 47%. The Queen asks Key to Balmoral for the same reason Obama asks him to play golf: they like him. Heck, I like him. There is no one we would rather have in charge in a crisis. . . .
How often do people really like a leader and when was the last time we had a leader who wasn’t just popular but who was widely liked here and further afield?
We’ve had popular Prime Ministers, we’ve had ones who have been admired, more than a few who were disliked and some who were feared. But widely liked well beyond their parties and personal friends? I can’t remember one.
Leaders often aren’t likeable but John Key is. Not universally of course, some people won’t be able to see beyond their politics to the person. But people who know him like him and so does the general public.
Prebble thinks National will win the election and the PM’s likeability is a major reason for that.
He may or may not be right about the outcome of the election, but he is right about people liking the PM and that gives him, and National, a huge advantage.
The popularity of Prime Ministers and Presidents fluctuates for all sorts of political reasons. A leader’s likeability is more stable and will often trump politics.