Why has Jacinda Ardern's popularity suffered a precipitous 15 per cent drop? Why are 27 per cent unsure who should be Prime Minister?
"The team of five million" and "be kind to one another" are brilliant words that inspired the nation.
This month, the words "the team of five million" have been used by speakers at the Christchurch memorial ceremony, and by those celebrating winning the America's Cup. It is now a cliché.
Leaders have the knack of finding the right words. Keith Holyoake's "steady does it" and David Lange's "I can smell the uranium on your breath" also matched their time.
Here is what is making me uncertain whether Jacinda Ardern has the right stuff to be Prime Minister.
Holyoake and Lange's words were theirs, but Ardern's were more like a performance.
When in Parliament, you learn every MP's speech pattern. I could pick when a line was fake. The MP was not saying his or her own words but speaking some market tested line.
Maybe I am upset because I did not spot that the lines were not spontaneous. I have tried to rationalise: Covid-19 is a crisis and the Government did need to communicate.
Look at the confusion in the latest lockdown with the "casual plus contact".
Helen Clark or John Key would not have needed a market test to know that "casual plus contact" is meaningless bureaucratic jargon.
Here is what is most troubling. We can all read Ardern's body language on TV. The more uncertain she is about how to answer, the bigger the smile. What we do not know is, are Ardern's words her own or those of some advertising agency?
Who is the real Jacinda? Is the leader who told us all to be kind the real Jacinda? Or is the Prime Minister who deflected criticism by blaming the lockdown on a polytech student the real Jacinda?
It is like Gresham's law, "bad money drives out good". Fakes drive out the authentic. We start to wonder, is it all fake? Was wearing the hijab genuine empathy or a market-tested gesture?
We rely on the fourth estate to help us assess our representatives' true character. The answers to tough questions in live interviews are very revealing. Authentic politicians welcome the chance to speak live unfiltered. They relish the hard questions to demonstrate that they have solutions.
Successive Prime Ministers have been interviewed live each week by the nation's top rating radio station. Every one of them, when speaking live, has said things they could have put better. It is a tradeoff that Prime Ministers made to be authentic.
Only doing soft interviews does allow Ardern to control the messaging. But that comes at a cost: politicians who control what questions they are asked quickly get out of touch.
A Prime Minister who was in touch would not have needed the principal of Papatoetoe High School to tell her about the reality of his pupils' lives. The Government's website would not have had to contradict the PM and say that the KFC workers she criticised were following her Government's instructions.
It is the Americanisation of politics. President Joe Biden is yet to hold a live press conference. No wonder many Americans believe their politics are fake. If we are just going to hear market-tested messages, our politics too will be fake.
The poll was also bad news for Judith Collins. Her issue is in some ways the opposite of Ardern's. Collins told us that "I had to write every word" of her biography in order to be "authentic".
Provided the ideas and words were Collins', good editing would not have made the book fake.
"I had to" is the problem. Leaders cannot do it all. Collins has to turn "I" into "we". Her challenge is to make her caucus a team, no easy task.
Collins promised to "pull no punches", but she is shadow boxing. Crusher would not be doing gimmicks like petitions, but holding Ardern to account.
The fact that 27 per cent do not know who should be Prime Minister is an indictment on both leaders — and also an opportunity for them.
Ardern needs to get in touch, and accept scrutiny from the media. Even more important is to move from gesture politics to policy achievement. Governments get re-elected on their record, not their spin.
Collins needs to move from gimmicks like petitions, to putting forward practical, positive alternatives.
What is not fake are the problems the nation faces. The issues will be solved only by authentic leaders with substantive solutions.