In my mind, last night's debate was Hudak's only chance to convince Ontario voters that he was Premier in waiting material, he had the chops to the lead the province. Hudak failed on that score, and in so doing is the big loser coming out of last night's debate. We can quibble about "who won" the debate, but nobody can convince me it was Hudak, and given his abysmal campaign to date, anything less is worrying for PC prospects.
I said yesterday that a draw probably worked to McGuinty's advantage, if the pre-debate polls are accurate. Given the dynamics, McGuinty was bound to be on the defensive, so expectations were viewed within that reality. Last night, I felt that McGuinty started slow and looked stilted- they all did- but as the debate progressed, he built up a more natural lather and looked in command by the end. Apparently my perrceptions weren't clouded by partisanship because Ipsos Reid found results which largely mirror my thoughts. A solid night for the Premier, he did what was required within a stale debate that wasn't particularly remarkable.
Horwath did well, and by that I mean, she made a good first impression, which Ipsos also found. The NDP are the wildcard in this election, literally the balance of power could be in their hands, whether it be stopping a majority or being part of a minority arrangment. There was nothing last night that suggests the NDP support will fade, so in that sense perhaps a net negative for the Liberal cause. People are already making the federal comparisons, which I'd catergorize as intellectually lazy, given the Liberal equation bears absolutely no relationship to their federal cousins predicament. In other words, let's treat each scenario independently rather than constantly making tortured analogies.
I'd conclude that both the Liberal and NDP camps are relatively happy this morning, the PC camp wondering if it's slipped away.