The TV debates between Jacinda and Judith matter more than ever this election and they remain the last chance of Judith breaking Jacinda.
NZ is herdism enough to stampede when they are spooked and right now, more New Zealander’s are fearful, anxious and depressed than possibly any other time in modern history.
These debates matter because so far Jacinda has been able to glide over the enormous challenges in front of us as she becomes a Presidential crisis manager.
The simple truth is that the Government have been too busy desperately protecting NZ from the pandemic to forge new policy let alone something transformative.
The naked reality is that if NZers give Jacinda a majority Government, they will be expecting her to use it to be transformative enough to protect us from the Pandemic and rebuild it in a way that lifts us and is just.
The problem is Jacinda is so good, she has to do more than just beat Judith, she has to super nova it.
Protecting us from the pandemic isn’t enough, Jacinda must articulate a vision that can overcome our collective fear and anger where as all Judith has to do is play to those triggers.
Jacinda’s media briefings may have created a false sense of complacency. Live debates have an energy and life of their own, there certainly isn’t the respectful silence Jacinda will have become accustomed to, sure the Press Gallery Journalists pile on afterwards, but that civility to explain won’t exist with Judith and it’s in that far more intimate setting that can cause mis-step and look like floundering.
Jacinda has to acknowledge the sacrifice and fear NZers have been through. She has an almost super power skill to engage empathetically with people so she must talk over the host and Judith and speak directly to the camera and connect with them.
She also needs to dominate the headlines by announcing new policy on the night live during the debate. This policy has to be populist and big vision stuff that she connects the acknowledgment of pain with so that she is offering a solution.
She has nothing to lose while Jacinda has everything to lose, so Judith will be coming with every dirty trick in the book. The best bet for Judith is to attack Jacinda from a position she is not used to defending from so expect Judith to suddenly care about inequality, suicide, homelessness, housing and poverty.
Judith is likely to be executed by National the moment she loses the election so a desperate Collins might attempt to unleash white fragility and culture war triggers in the debates as an Orewa Speech Hail Mary.
She could play a straight bat and simply attack Jacinda on the credibility of their pandemic management or economic rebuild but unless there is a significant outbreak between now and the debates, Jacinda simply has to point to the numbers as proof Labour outperformed the world in pandemic response and most Kiwi’s now see Labour as better economic managers.
So that leaves desperate gambles for Judith and that’s when she is at her most dangerous.
TVNZ: John Campbell is hosting and he won’t allow Jacinda to get off without challenging her on the lack of transformation while he will crucify Judith’s criticisms with the 9 years of their failures. It will be the most watched debate. Jessica Mutch McKay’s final debate will be technical and anti-climactic.
TV3: It will be a gotcha minefield that will probably dovetail from a breaking exclusive that Newshub runs with just before the debate. The partisan panelists Tova grills afterwards are the ones most likely to generate headlines the next day.
The cannabis referendum debate will be decided by Gower’s show on it.
- 19 September, 9.30am: Newshub Nation presents Battlegrounds – a special programme dedicated to some of the most hotly-contested electorates in the country, featuring a debate between the key Northland Candidates, on location in the Bay of Islands.
- Tuesday 22 September – The first Leaders’ Debate takes place between Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins at 7-8.30pm on TVNZ 1. Moderated by John Campbell.
- Monday 28 September – The Young Voters Debate in association with Auckland University will feature candidates from a range of parties and will be live streamed via 1news.co.nz and 1 NEWS social channels. Moderated by Jack Tame.
- Wednesday 30 September: Overseas voting starts
- 30 September, 7.30pm: Newshub Decision 2020 Leaders Debate with Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins, hosted by Patrick Gower and post-debate analysis by Tova O’Brien with guest panellists. Live on Three, ThreeNow, Newshub’s Facebook page and YouTube account. Simulcast on Magic Talk.
- Saturday 3 October: Advance voting starts
- 3 October, 9.30am: Newshub Nation presents Powerbrokers, its multi-party leaders’ debate featuring the Green Party’s Marama Davidson , the ACT Party’s David Seymour, and John Tamihere from The Maori Party.
- 7 October, 8.30pm: Newshub Decision 2020 The Cannabis Question, moderated by Patrick Gower. Live on Three, ThreeNow, Newshub’s Facebook page and YouTube account.
- Thursday 8 October – The Multi-Party Debate will include NZ First, The Green Party and Act at 7-8pm on TVNZ 1. Moderated by Jessica Mutch McKay.
- 14 October, 8.30pm: Newshub Decision 2020 The Euthanasia Question, moderated by Patrick Gower. Live on Three, ThreeNow, Newshub’s Facebook page and YouTube account.
- Thursday 15 October – The final Leaders’ Debate airs at 7-8pm on TVNZ 1. Featuring Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins, this will be the last broadcast debate before New Zealanders head to voting booths on Election Day. Moderated by Jessica Mutch McKay.
- Friday 16 October: Advance voting ends
- Friday 16 October midnight: The regulated period ends. All election and referendum advertising must end. Signs must be taken down by midnight.
- Saturday 17 October: Election day. Voters can vote from 9am to 7pm.
- 17th October 7pm – The Greatest NZ Election Results Show on Earth: Magic Talk Radio with Sean Plunket, Damien Grant and Martyn Bradbury
- Friday 30 October: Preliminary results for the referendums
- Friday 6 November: Official results for the general election and referendums
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