Two key National Party supporters are backing Simon Bridges ahead of tomorrow's leadership showdown with fellow Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller.
But another wants Judith Collins in charge.
Bridges' leadership hangs by a thread after Muller confirmed his bid for the top job, supported by would-be deputy Nikki Kaye. The decision will be made at a crisis caucus meeting in Wellington tomorrow.
What may tip the balance are the small number of supporters who prefer Judith Collins or Mark Mitchell and who they will end up supporting. Collins has ruled herself out and Mitchell is not expected to contest the leadership.
The result of tonight's 1News Colmar Brunton poll might also play a role in whether Bridges survives the challenge. A Newshub-Reid political poll result this week gave Labour a clear lead at 56.5 per cent compared to National's 30.6 per cent.
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Former National Party MP Bob Clarkson, who held the Tauranga electoral seat from 2005 to 2008, told the Bay of Plenty Times he backed Bridges and was one of the people who recommended him for the leadership.
"Simon is well educated, he's a great family man, he doesn't swear like me, and he has a good brain. It's hard work being the Opposition leader, and I think he's doing a good job.
"He might not have chosen the right subjects to talk about sometimes, but generally, I think he shows he has the right skills to continue to lead the party.
"I think Simon is maturing into his role and now is not the time to even think about changing the leadership four months out from an election."
Clarkson said that while the polls had a psychological influence on some voters, he did not pay too much attention to them and history showed many popular leaders had lost elections.
He believed Bridges had significant support around him to stave off any challenge,
and backed Bridges "100 per cent", he said.
Clarkson would rather Muller had not challenged the leadership, but he believed Bridges had done the right thing by bringing it all out into the open."
Tauranga retiree and longstanding National Party supporter Diane Sorensen said she also "absolutely" supported Bridges to remain as party leader.
Sorensen said political polls were taken at a moment in time and there would be another poll next week that was likely to say the opposite.
"I think having a leadership change now is a totally stupid idea," she said.
"I've known Simon for a very long time. He's hardworking, dedicated, honest and he's got integrity. He has all the right skills to continue to lead the party," she said.
"I think Simon gets a lot of bad press he does not deserve. Yes, he can sometimes struggle to get his message across but it's hard work when you're the Opposition leader.
"I respect Todd, who I have known since he was a young man and Nikki Kaye. They are both hardworking and dedicated MPs, but I still think Simon is the right man for the job."
But long-time party supporter and Western Bay of Plenty District councillor Margaret Murray-Benge said she backed MP Judith Collins.
"The party is really in a bit of a pickle and any leadership challenge needs to be sorted out very quickly," she said.
"We all like Simon, he's a great electorate MP but given the declining poll results, he has to step aside as party leader.
"I had spoken a long time ago about Judith's leadership abilities and as a long-time supporter of the National Party, I have seen many leaders come and go ... I truly believe Judith is the right person to help the National Party win the election," Murray-Benge told the Bay of Plenty Times.
"Judith has a lot of support from the community, she's well-respected and she has cabinet experience. She has all the right skills and experience to take on Jacinda Ardern.''