Todd Muller has been picked as National's next leader - by political commentators, at least - ahead of the party's high-stakes caucus vote today.
National MPs will descend on Wellington for the emergency leadership vote, set to take place at midday, with Mr Muller vying to snatch the reins of Opposition party power from current leader Simon Bridges.
It comes after two disastrous polls for the party were revealed this week. They include a 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll last night that had National slump to 29 per cent. In the same poll, Mr Muller polled at 0.2 per cent when people were asked to name their preferred Prime Minister.
Because of Mr Muller's poll result, political commentator Ben Thomas told TVNZ1's Breakfast he thinks he's got it in the bag.
"I think it may have been a tightly run thing before last night's Colmar Brunton poll. I think a number with a two in front of it is clarifying," said Mr Thomas.
"What the National party has to look at: Is their current leader a drag on their performance coming into the election?"
Josie Pagani agreed with Mr Thomas.
"It's all over. This kind of momentum is impossible to come back from... I think he’ll be gone by midday.
"You know I might have to eat my words. You never know in politics ... but the one thing you can rely on in politics is self-interest. And if 16 MPs are going to lose their jobs then at least you know they're trying if they're following self-interest cause they don't want to lose their jobs."
Ms Pagani says Mr Bridges has failed to "capture" his audience.
"I feel sorry for Simon. He's had to put up with a pandemic, the Prime Minister standing up every day giving in effect a speech from the throne. Everybody's incredibly grateful that we're not sick, that not many of us have died, so of course he's completely on the back foot.
"But I think the real failure is not that Covid's happened and that he hasn't been able to get a word in edgewise. It's that he failed to make the case for why National should lead New Zealand. You have to capture a vision."
Mr Muller emailed his fellow National MPs on Wednesday saying he wanted the top job, and 1 NEWS understands he also wants MP Nikki Kaye to be his deputy.
Both Mr Bridges and deputy leader Paula Bennett said yesterday that they are confident in the safety of their positions.
It's understood Rodney MP Mark Mitchell may also be putting his name in the hat.