This year has finished him. His evasiveness over Kim Dotcom, his shonkiness over the SkyCity casino deal to give more pokies for a convention centre, his weakness managing his ministers and his forgetfulness on details of his job is starting to form real doubts that he's on top of his job. We like nice guys but we expect them to know what they're doing. This is the year he became a two-term prime minister.
All this prediction reveals is McCarten's left bias and according wishfulness. Let's try and analyse Key's chances objectively.
1/ Who else?
Like it or not most New Zealanders are middle-of-the-road moderates. When it comes to matters political, they think at a superficial level employing emotion over reason. But occasionally the 'wisdom of the masses' asserts itself as when Green co-leader Russell Norman suggested printing money. Without understanding economics too deeply people just instinctively knew this was a stupid idea. Sometimes good ideas are the most simple ones - but not in this case. And people aren't going to accept a leader with radical ideas, even sound ones. That's why Key doesn't do radical.
Neither will people accept a leader with NO ideas. Well, to be fair, no new ideas. And anyway, Labour is too ramshackle at present to give swing-voters any confidence that they can govern.
2/ Better the devil you know. Key is still in this ballpark. When Clark went, she'd stepped outside it. People were saying any devil is better than her. National has upset large groups of people. Teachers for example. But mainly they have upset the leftists which is their job.
They have pissed off people like me in many ways BUT not enough that I would vote for more redistribution of wealth from the productive to the non-productive; more punishment of effort and reward for fecklessness; more economic regulation and welfare reform reversal.
3/ Key appeals to both males and females. That sort of appeal is reasonably rare.
4/ Key is still looking like a solid family man. Also reasonably rare and something we admire I think.
5/ Key has a winning leadership style. While McCarten says Key is weak at managing his ministers, the other side is, he doesn't over-manage. My preference is for the second style. Most of us want a boss who gives us space and respect.
So barring startling developments - Labour recruiting Richie McCaw as a potential future leader - voters are going to go into the 2014 election prepared to accept the status quo. The reality is most people's lives are ticking over satisfactorily despite the recession and they will entrust another three years of management to National.