The House will rise on July 31 for a general election on September 20.
At present, it seems obvious that the election is National's to lose. My guess is that even voters who have issues with things National has done or plans to do -- and issue-by-issue there are plenty of them -- remain to be convinced that a Labour-Green (and, let's face it, New Zealand First) coalition is competent to govern. The latest Roy Morgan poll indicates they don't have the same qualms about the current National-led government.
But even after a string of bad polls for the Opposition, the actual numbers will end up closer than that. National will contrive seats for Peter Dunne and Act's Epsom candidate David Seymour, but if it's in the position of having to do the same for Colin Craig and his Conservative Party -- and that position is only a matter of a couple of points of support -- things might get a little more tricky.
On Morning Report today, Cunliffe again pointed to the 800,000 or so people who didn't vote last time. It seems perilous to rely on people who don't vote, but he doesn't have much choice. And as much as he can sometimes look like his own worst enemy in the national media, Cunliffe is actually very skilled at electorate-level campaigning. He'll need the Greens to deliver too, of course. At the sae time, they'll want to avoid alienating centrist voters. And they'll both have to accommodate whatever pose Peters decides to strike. That's a lot of ifs already.
Random factor: after a disastrous soft-launch, the Internet Party will lay out its wares in earnest next week. Kim Dotcom last night promised an "InternetParty website, mobile apps, call for members and a funny short film about my opponents. I don't think they'll reach 5%, but they engage potential voters the others can't. It could be disruptive. Or it might just be weird.