No party newly in power wants to slip behind in opinion polls as quickly as Labour has done in the latest Colmar Brunton sampling for TVNZ.
Labour has dropped five points since the previous poll in February, receiving 43 per cent, one point behind National.
But Labour is finding solace in the fact that its two support parties, Greens and NZ First, have together gained three points, so the coalition remains safely above 50 per cent. The results underline the fact that this is a coalition such as we have never seen.
It is the first to be led by a party that received fewer votes than its main rival at the election. While Labour's latest position is six points better than its vote at the election, it should be in the ascendancy with the advantages of being new to office and attracting public attention with new personalities and plans. Yet it is not happening.
National remains on the 44 per cent of the vote it received at the election in September. Labour has not sustained the lead it gained in February, not long after Jacinda Ardern's January announcement she was expecting a baby.
Since then, the National Party has changed its leader and lost none of its party support in the poll, though new leader Simon Bridges is the preferred Prime Minister of only 10 per cent of the sample, half the number Bill English had just before his retirement.
Bridges' election by the caucus was fairly decisive, winning on the second ballot against three rivals, but clearly he has work to do to impress the party's voters.
Ardern, the preferred Prime Minister of 37 per cent, four points down since February, is the Government's strong suit in more ways than one. She has been the steady hand on the tiller through the coalition's rougher moments in recent times.
She said the right things about complaints of sexual harassment at Labour's youth camp, told Shane Jones he had gone too far in criticism of Air New Zealand's withdraw from two regional services and corrected Winston Peters' defence of Russia over the gassing of a former spy in Britain.
But perhaps more important, she is never forgetting her party is not in the position of previous dominant parties in coalitions. Hence, she is taking every opportunity to include NZ First and Green ministers in announcements of particular interest to them.
She is giving credit where it is due, which may be why NZ First and the Greens are staying just above the 5 per cent threshold for survival at the next election. Neither has an electorate, both will probably need at least 5 per cent of the party vote if Labour is to get a second term.
NZ First's prospects looked particularly low when it slipped to 3 per cent in Colmar Brunton's February poll. Now it is up to 5 per cent. Jones' outburst on Air NZ was expected to lift the party's support but he might have hoped for more.
The Greens, on 6 per cent, are the more stable coalition partner so far. They have scored significant policy goals in the Government's recent transport policy statement and announcement that no new oil and gas exploration will be permitted offshore.
The impact of these steps on transport and energy investments might be apparent before the next election when, the poll suggests, the three governing parties will sink or swim together.