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Corin Dann: 'Probably a points victory to Cunliffe'

David Cunliffe had the most to gain from tonight's debate, so it wasn't a surprise to me that he came out firing and really looked to take it to John Key.

Source: 1 NEWS

It was a risky strategy, but it seemed to work early on at least. John Key was put on the back foot from the get go over Dirty Politics, and struggled to gain momentum in the early exchanges.

I'm not sure John Key did much wrong in this debate, and the viewer poll showed a clear victory to him. So he won't be too concerned.

However I think David Cunliffe will be the one who emerges the most pleased.

He showed tonight that he could foot it with Mr Key on big policy issues and for the most part came across as strong.

If there was a criticism it was that Mr Cunliffe interrupted a lot early on and that may have irritated some viewers. Although by the end John Key was giving as good as he got. This meant for a pretty heated and contested debate at times.

In the end the shear fact David Cunliffe proved he could stand up and match Mr Key and not drop the ball, means you'd probably give him a points victory.

Certainty his supporters will be happy with the showing and it should boost morale. Whether it's enough of a strong performance to create a move in the polls is less clear. But it's a start.