This time next year we'll be enjoying an election campaign and recent polls say it will be close.
This is great for politics junkies like me though no one who places any value on their opinion would predict a result for fear of risking the fate of Massey University's professor of communication design.
Her airy prediction of the return of the National Government in 2017 based on polls a year out from that election, was proved wrong and she's gone silent since.
A better guide for the mood of Hawke's Bay voters might well be the extraordinary local election results where Peleti Oli topped the poll in the Flaxmere ward as an explicitly Labour Party candidate and former Labour parliamentary candidate Anna Lorck was the top scoring new member on the Hawke's Bay DHB.
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The first source of much interest are the polls.
TVNZ's Colmar Brunton poll indicates that a National/Act government is a possibility, though TV3's Reid Research poll taken about the same time had a Labour/Green government as the most likely outcome.
Both polls undersold NZ First which has stayed above the MMP threshold on private polls and is again likely to be "kingmaker".
As a founding director of a polling company and a compulsive poll-watcher, I've learned three lessons.
First is that the public poll support for the New Zealand First Party is almost always understated when compared with election results. I think that this phenomenon is a combination of Winston Peters' campaigning talents and the reluctance of some respondents to admit their voting preference.
I now compensate for this oddity by mentally adding a couple of points to the NZ First tally in any poll.
Second: The New Zealand electorate is volatile. Voting intention can and does change overnight. You'd only have to recall the reaction to Don Brash's Orewa speech in January 2004, or what happened when Jacinda became Labour Party Leader to see that point.
Third, the methodology that telephone polling rests on is unstable and rapidly changing as landlines slowly become extinct and the polling companies cast about for alternative sources for data.
The TVNZ poll is now topped up with randomly generated cellphone interviews, while the TV3 poll has added online responses to its landline sample.
Just as telephone polls replaced face to face surveys nearly 40 years ago, it's possible that the coming method will be robotic polls where the interviewing is by interactive voice response in which a pre-recorded automated survey is played to elicit numerical responses via the telephone keypad.
The second area of interest will be the NZ economy and just how Finance Minister Grant Robertson manages election year.
According to the Economist, bleak surveys of business confidence are a worldwide phenomenon and though the opinions of 100 or so captains of commerce make interesting if now predictable reading, the punters will be more focused on rock-bottom unemployment numbers, rising wages, and other bread and butter issues like houses, hospitals and schools.
Robertson has been the quiet achiever of the coalition Government, pulling a $7.5 billion surplus out of the budgetary hat just when it was needed.
This gives the Government priceless room to manoeuvre in election year and severely damages National's economic credibility.
Steven Joyce predicted an $11.7b hole in Robertson's pre-election calculations so this means that National got its numbers wrong by a staggering $19.2b.
There is a lesson in political campaigning here.
The "big lie" ploy might get you a short-lived advantage, but in the longer term, it's the party which resorts to this tactic that damages its own credibility.
There is no doubt that this surplus is real, however, and it will be fascinating to see how the parties try to attract our votes with our money.
The third area of interest be will be the leadership battle.
National has gleaned enough poll support for Simon Bridges to be safe up to next year's election.
Last week I thought that Bridges at last was getting a handle on the thankless job he's landed, but this week he launched an attack on Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway which immediately backfired.
This minister had given residency to an applicant with historic drink-driving convictions.
Bridges railed against this decision for about an hour before it was revealed that the applicant couldn't be deported because of some international treaty, and that National immigration ministers had twice given visa extensions to the same applicant. This also reminded us that one of these ministers was Michael Woodhouse MP whose own 32-year-old drink-driving conviction has been forgiven.
It's hard to avoid the possibility that an internal enemy fed Bridges bad material with the aim of causing embarrassment.
If there's to be a true leadership contest next year, on the evidence of this week, Bridges will need to lift his game.
*Mike Williams grew up in Hawke's Bay. He is CEO of the NZ Howard League and a former Labour Party president. All opinions are his and not those of Hawke's Bay Today.