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'Outlier' political analyst praises Ardern as 'relaxed and confident' in leaders' debate

Going against the grain of many political analysts following the first 2020 election leaders' debate last night, commentator Emma Espiner says Labour's Jacinda Ardern had the upper hand.

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Emma Espiner took a different approach to other political commentators today. Source: Breakfast

TVNZ's debate, moderated by John Campbell, showcased the stark differences in policy and personality of both Ardern and National's Judith Collins.

Collins this morning told TVNZ1's Breakfast she won the debate "hands down" - a view mirrored by what, so far, appears to be a majority of political experts who enjoyed her feisty approach.

However, later on Breakfast, Espiner said it was a good performance from the Labour corner instead.

"I think perhaps what's happening is a lot of us are projecting, we're all tired, we're all feeling like this election's gone on forever. I thought that she [Ardern] was relaxed and confident," she said, admitting she may be an "outlier" with that opinion.

"I actually went back and had a look at the 2017 debate performances and I think she was a bit more energised in those performances, but what we saw last night was the benefit of three years of being the Prime Minister, dealing with various crises and a very assured and relaxed communicator."

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Espiner isn't expecting an escalation in energy from Ardern, though, in the wake of much of the debate's feedback.

"When the party's are polling closer to each other you would see a much more fiery debate, I think, but there's not much in it for her but to stay the course."

Shortly before last night's debate, the latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll was revealed.

The poll saw a drop of five percentage points for Labour since the last poll in late July – they’re now sitting on 48 per cent.

However, the party is still well ahead of National, which dipped one percentage point in support to 31 per cent.

The 2020 election is October 17.