I found the TV3 debate fairly dull. I agreed with one of the commentators, I believe it was Jane Clifton, who wondered if both leaders had been trained by their media minders to be just plain dull and avoid talking about policy.
Overall I would call it a minor points victory for Helen Clark, but the debate was so dull is unlikely to have much impact on the wider campaign. I think Clark did well given that the tenor, questions and underlying assumptions behind the debate were framed against her. Like Audrey Young, I think there were occasions where host John Campbell did not give Clark a fair go to respond.
That said, the weakness in Clark's performance tonight was the same issue that has plagued the 08 Labour campaign - being too negative. Campbell gave her plenty of opportunities to talk about new policy initiatives - yet she failed to mention the promise of a universal student allowance once. Clark fluffed the chance for a strong closing statement by closing on Key, although I think Key/Campbell cut her off again here too.
While some Labour activists hope the 'Mary' ad will turn things around - I doubt it. To my mind, Labour would gain more votes if they toned down the frequency of the negative ads and ran the CTU videos on TV instead!