I was wrong. A few months ago, I thought National's initially muted response to Labour removing the referendum option for Māori wards said something about the party's future direction.
With the world still recovering from its Trump hangover, they knew better than to play the race card.
The following week, I glumly read on the NZ Herald website that ex-National Party leader Simon Bridges was leading the charge in Parliament against Māori wards.
Prompting my slip into irritability and self-admonishment that comes from getting it wrong in public.
I should have waited until the bill was before Parliament before making any pronouncements about how National would play it.
I consoled myself that National was just doing what opposition parties do; they oppose whatever the Government's doing. That's the model of Parliament we have.
Maybe they're not too serious. Surely there are enough sensible strategists left inside the National Party.
If they want to be the ruling party again, they need to present a liberal face to voters who are culturally tolerant and open to a Māori voice being a permanent feature of our society.
And then there are Māori voters themselves - a not insignificant percentage of the population that National would be forever blocking itself off from.
In politics, like a lot of things, context is everything though.
You've got a party somewhat disbelieving that so many voters have abandoned it; a leader with poor political judgment but desperate to make an impact; and a couple of policy decisions by Labour, on Māori wards and the new Māori Health Authority, sparking unease among a portion of New Zealanders.
Throw in an unreleased document of a type regularly produced to advise the Government and some behind-the-scenes discussions about managing water with iwi. The temptation was too great for Judith. Out came highly emotive words like "separatist", "segregationist" and "race-based".
She could have constructively raised issues about how New Zealand manages public assets and resources—which is what health and water are—in partnership with Māori. There's plenty of rich ground for dialogue, learning and compromise.
Getting media traction, Judith instead persisted with the negativity.
The question was, would the strategy work? I remember well the big bounce in support Don Brash received from his Orewa speech in 2004.
Maybe Judith herself had dreams of it working.
As for the rest of the National Party caucus, maybe it was like, "Well, we're going to roll her and replace her soon anyway, let her go with this to test the waters.
"If it works, great, we can get a bit of momentum back and move on with a new leader. If it doesn't work, we haven't expended too much political capital."
And so on Sunday night, browsing the news sites, I read a headline saying the results of the Newshub-Reid Research poll were about to be released.
Had National achieved a big jump in support?
That couldn't be possible. New Zealand as a country is moving in a direction that can allow Māori a greater role in the governance of our public assets.
We're developing a mature framework for addressing institutional racism and the colonial legacy.
Many of us might even see this as a source of pride, that New Zealand could be a role model for indigenous rights.
And yet, I had doubts. Was I misreading the political landscape?
Soon after six, I found the link and, to my relief, only a slight nudge upwards for National, and that at the expense of Act. Judith herself had plummeted in support.
I'd be wrong to make too much of one poll. Judith's instincts were at least correct in one regard. Māori co-governance has probably snuck up on many people.
And, despite the denials, Labour has been lax in talking us through the implications of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which John Key's National Government signed up to in 2010.
The onus is now on the current Government, the media and Māori themselves to continue to articulate why Māori wards, a Māori Health Authority, and Māori involvement in the management of natural resources like water, national parks, harbours and beaches will be positive for all of us, and shouldn't be feared.
• Northern Advocate columnist Vaughan Gunson writes about life and politics.