Prime Minister John Key says losing Northland in yesterday's byelection was disappointing but he was "pretty philosophical" about it.
It was effectively a two-candidate contest between National's Mark Osborne and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters who won with a 4012 majority and that could not be translated to a general election.
"Once you back to a normalized scenario where there are a great many more candidates, then the dynamics change dramatically because obviously you get vote splitting and we are by far the biggest party and our candidate will come through," he said today from Melbourne, before the cricket final.
Mr Key said he would take the loss on board.
"The voters are never wrong like, frankly, in my view, the polls are very infrequently wrong.
"We're not dismissing it. We're saying the rational explanation is that you've got a collection of parties up against National rather than droves of National voters deserting us."
Mr Key said Mr Peters ran a good campaign and had an effective message telling voter they were not getting their fair share and the region wasn't growing fast enough, although whether that was true was a different matter.
Certainly a lot of resources have been put into Northland but what is clear is that the people of Northland are ambitious. They want more. They want to go faster."
It was not straight forward however. The Nga Puhi settlement which would be huge for the region was being held up by internal issues in Nga Puhi ,and Government was not the one holding back mining and exploration that would also be good for the region.
Reform of the Resource Management Act which would also help the region but that would be more challenging - National now needs the support of at least one support party other than Act.
Mr Key said he had not reckoned on Labour leader Andrew Little encouraging tactical voting, thinking he would have preferred to campaign hard as a new leader.
"We would have done the same thing faced the same scenario but it's not always easy to get your people out to do that."
He said Mr Peters' 40 years' experience was a factor when he up against Mr Osborne with "40 hours."
He said National's first poll showed that Mr Peters had name recognition by 84 per cent of those polled and Mr Osborne by just 14 per cent.