Winston Peters is likely to be the man other party leaders are lining up to make deals with after the election, according to the latest ONE News Colmar Brunton political poll.
New Zealand First is the poll's big winner, its support more than doubling to 7% this month.
The increase comes at the expense of both National and Labour.
Prime Minister John Key, on his recent tour to China, secured a new $30 billion trade goal and even a dinner date with the President.
But far from basking in diplomatic glory, Mr Key spent much of the time away hosing down on-going controversy over another dinner between Justice Minister Judith Collins and milk exporter Oravida while she was in China last year.
National has taken a hit in the poll, down 4 points to 47% support.
Labour has had its own woes, with leader David Cunliffe under pressure over his use of a trust for campaign donations. And Labour is down 3 points to 31%.
The Greens have picked up three points to 11%, New Zealand First rises 4 points to 7%. The Conservatives too are up 1 to 2%, while the Maori Party is steady on on 1%.
When converted into seats in Parliament, National would have 58 seats and would just have the numbers to form a government with the help of United Future, Act and the Maori Party.
The centre left block of Labour, the Greens and Mana could muster 54 seats.
But those results, even with the added support of New Zealand First's eight seats, would fall just short of the 63 needed for a majority.
Preferred prime minister
After a gaffe-ridden start to the year, David Cunlffe sprung a surprise by bringing in a heavyweight from the left, Matt McCarten, to bolster his leadership team.
But it has done little as yet to help him in the preferred prime minister stakes.
John Key remains well out in front, just down 1 at 42%.
Mr Cunliffe has slid another 2 points to 8%, the lowest level for a Labour leader since Phil Goff in 2011.
Mr Peters is in a not-so-distant third place with 4%.
ONE News political editor Corin Dann says with both Labour and National down, the poll is boost for the minor parties, in particular New Zealand First and Winston Peters.
Mr Peters is looking increasingly likely to be kingmaker once again after the election, Dann says.