There IS a way National can screw up and lose the 2011 general election.
Let your imagination run wild for a moment and picture the void left by a go nowhere, do nothing, no talent, still in denial Labour Party - polling at around 15% party vote.
Imagine a small army - maybe a platoon or two - of Redbaiters, erikters, Wake Ups, Manolos etc - fulminating on the sidelines. They have been ineffectual thus far and they need a cause celebre or a trigger point to elevate themselves into the centre of the public consciousness.
It is early 2011 and the recession has not receded. Unemployment remains high. Constraint is the order of the day. Ticket sales have bombed, in spite of a special gummint injection of $5 million (thanks McCully) to promote sales overseas. The projected loss balloons to an unprecedented $60 million and the tax payer sees a looming bill for $40 million.
Enter thePark Yeehaa Party , lead by the charismatic Red Baiter, revealed to be none other than highly successful Ruawai dairy farmer, fifty year old Vlado Yankovich, father of six daughters and scourge of socialism. The Park Yeehaa Party is born but struggles to gain traction as it rails against the socialist pinkos in National and their suckhole comrades in ACT. It soaks up the rump of NZ First and a few disaffected National members. ACT suffers in the polls from its association with National and languishes between 2 and 3 percent. PYP moves up to poll steadily at 6 to 7% and can see Red in parliament.
Then, two months before the election, the All Blacks fail to even make the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup and ticket sales for the remaining games dry up completely. The final is only seventy-five percent sold. Losses now are predicted to exceed $80 mil.
Voters search in desperation for somewhere to go and descend upon the PYP as the only real means of punishing National for the RWC debacle without giving oxygen to the hated Labour Party and the reviled Greens.
National takes a bath and polls 41% party vote, ACT gets 4% but wins two electorates, MP takes 12 seats and the Park Yeehaa Party wins 22% of the party vote, with no electorates. Greens fail to make the cut while Labour outbids Bill English with 18% of the vote.