The accumulated baggage has tarnished National a little – but not much.
On Thursday night’s Colmar Brunton poll it’s at 44 per cent – that’s still doing better than any other government in modern times.
But it’s enough of a drop still to put the wind up the party’s skirts – as one National MP indelicately put it on Thursday after the poll landed.
National no longer feels bullet proof.
It is facing an opponent that has all the qualities that carried National’s former leader John Key through three elections.
New Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has that same easy rapport with voters – self-deprecating wit and ability to think fast on her feet that worked to such devastating effect for Key against a tired-looking Helen Clark on the campaign trail in 2008.
Key’s shock decision to step down in 2016 was supposed to be about stamping a fresh face on the National leadership to counter any mood for change.
English was the ‘fresh but not fresh’ option – a new face at the top without Key’s baggage.
But installing English – even with his gravitas and huge credibility with voters as the safe pair of hands on the economy – carried its own risk that he could look just as tired and out of ideas as Clark did nine years ago.