We've heard it before and we'll hear it ad nauseam between now and September the 23rd - the only poll that counts is the one that's counted on election day. And that's literally true.

But New Zealand opinion polls in the lead-up to an election, and we're about to be hit with a tidal wave of them, are generally pretty accurate and are largely borne out in the final result.

They will wax and wane between now and the election but in the past couple of elections there's been a bit of a trend for National's rating to be slightly overstated along with The Greens, which is why Winston Peters was miffed when he was ranked level pegging with them on 11 percent. He'll be speaking from experience given that his rating tends to come in ahead of what the polls are telling us going into the ballot box.

Peters deserves his current rating, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with what he stands for. For the past couple of weeks he's been out and about on his campaign bus, first used by him on his wildly successful 1996 campaign when he picked up 17 seats and the Deputy Prime Minister's job.


The bus is the old fashioned way of campaigning, even if Bill English cynically suggested a couple of days ago that Peters has finally found the map. It gets the 72 year old Peters into the country town halls, or in his case more often than not the RSA's, where he packs them out.

This week he's been chased up the South Island by the weather, starting in Invercargill and late last night arriving in Dannevirke en route for a tub thumping meeting in Napier today.

Peters is the closest we've got to a celebrity politician, now that John Key's gone.

As preferred Prime Minister the latest poll saw him climbing four percent to put him behind Bill English on 11. The PM dropped three percent to 26, the same as the drop for Andrew Little who's now languishing on five behind his deputy Jacinda Ardern.

Being asked the question, what is it about Winston Peters that we like above other leaders, the answer's easy - personality. The more he lashes out at the media, his favourite whipping boy, the more the public like it.

But for Peters politics is theatre and in some cases his politics is more about perception. Think about the appeal to the sheep farmer of his policy announced in the provinces for the Government to lay wool carpet in its buildings, including the houses it's planning to build over the next ten years.

Yeah well his mentor Rob Muldoon said more than 40 years ago, no civil servant will walk on synthetic again and they've been feeling the static on their soles ever since.