This is election year, and here are 10 things punters around the watercooler tomorrow should know.
1. Polling indicates all party support levels are pretty consistent. Past elections show polling numbers don't change a lot in election year. Therefore the election will be close and determined by the minor parties' fortunes.
2. The respected Pundit website's poll of polls shows National is likely to get 58 seats and Labour and the Greens 59 seats. The minor parties get six MPs: Maori Party three; Act 1, United Future one and Mana one, making 123 MPs in total. NZ First and Conservatives fall under the threshold.
3. If the above happens on election day there will be an "overhang", and any prime minister would require support from 62 MPs to govern. John Key wants the Maori Party and either Act or Peter Dunne. David Cunliffe obviously needs the Greens. Mana needs three MPs to get the left across the line.
4. As John Banks is retiring, Act has to offer a winnable Key-endorsed candidate for the voters of Epsom. If not, National loses a seat.
5. Maori Party co-leader
Te Ururoa Flavell must retain his Waiariki seat to bring one or two MPs from his party list for National. They have no chance of keeping Te Tai Hauauru or Tamaki Makaurau. If Labour and Mana endorse one candidate between them, then Flavell will lose Waiariki and National loses three critical seats.
6. UnitedFuture's Peter Dunne won't bring anyone else in. If Labour finds an outstanding candidate it can take Ohariu.
7. Because of the uncertainty, National needs the Conservatives. If Key gifts them an electorate seat and there isn't a wholesale revolt in the liberal blue constituency, then according to the Pundit poll averages, the Conservatives would add a three-seat cushion for National.
8. Labour and the Greens require Mana's Hone Harawira to retain Tai Tokerau and bring in a couple of others. Co-operation to take Waiariki away from the Maori Party is critical to them.
9. Polls show NZ First under the 5 per cent threshold. Of course, Winston Peters will get back with at least six MPs. He says he'll talk first to the party with the most seats. That's National. What wouldn't National give him for the price of government? If Peters follows his public rhetoric and goes with Labour, then Peters would rank behind Russel Norman in government. Would he really accept third-wheel status?
10. As Peters won't commit to anyone, National needs Act, Dunne and the Maori Party (and the Conservatives) for its majority. Labour needs the Greens and Mana for theirs. Otherwise, Peters will decide for them.
I doubt the situation will change much over the year.