The head of National's campaign in Northland says Jacinda Ardern's popularity combined with the Covid pandemic and ill-discipline within the party cost it the election.
Grant McCallum, campaign chairman for National candidate Matt King, was among a crowd of about 80 following the election results at the Pioneer Tavern in Waipapa on Saturday night.
He was disappointed but philosophical as he considered the reasons for National's drubbing.
''The main reasons are, one, that Jacinda is loved. A lot of people were voting for her rather than for Labour. Because of Covid a lot of people feel she's saved them. You turn on the TV and even the president of the US got Covid,'' he said.
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''And, two, we have not run a very disciplined campaign. All the leadership changes didn't help, along with some economic miscalculations. When you're in a tough fight, you have to get everything on your side right – and we didn't," McCallum said.
The preliminary count at the end of election night had King just 742 votes ahead of Labour's Willow-Jean Prime. His placing on the party list means he has to win the seat to stay in Parliament.
The final result, which will include special votes, won't be known until November 6.