The worm controversially returned for last night’s leaders debate and almost stole the show. But worms aside, Crikey Cabbies were this morning asked for their verdicts. Who won, and why?

Bruce Tootell, Melbourne. I thought Howard won the first half of the debate. Rudd probably won the second half. I saw the worm go up almost to the top when Rudd uttered two words, even before he’d said anything. It was based on either party bias or aura, and not necessarily on content. As far as content goes there wasn’t much in it, but I’m going to say this again – the Liberal party are the worst sales people and polishers on earth. They don’t buff their image and their policies. They’re non-buffers. Labor are the best buffers ever known to man. The King Buffer was Paul Keating. He won votes everywhere. The Libs will lose the election because they can’t buff, and they might even have a better product.

David Bradley, Sydney. Unquestionably Mr Rudd. People have kept saying to me today that Howard looked rattled. He looked like he’d dropped his purse and couldn’t pick all the pieces up. Television is always about performance just like driving a cab is about steering a car, and Rudd was the better performer. It’s been the number one topic of conservation in the cab this morning and everyone I have spoken to felt the same way — maybe I haven’t been picking up enough people in blue ribbon Liberal seats. But I was in Bennelong and not one person thought Howard was the winner. Several even commented that they thought they would have a new member after the election.

Con Vokolos, Adelaide. I thought Rudd won. He projected a positive image throughout the debate. Apart from Howard’s climate change announcement, he had nothing to say. He just sat back on his laurels. Every time he tried to run down the Labor party, I thought “Who cares? I want to hear what you are going to do.” Rudd seemed like he started off pretty nervous, but when he got that opening speech out of the way he seemed very comfortable. He attempted to answer 95% of the questions he was asked, but with Howard, it was the old political-speak and talking around the mulberry bush, not answering the questions they asked him.

Michael Jools, Sydney. Kevin Rudd won even though he smiled too much. His voice was clearer and he had a vision. John Howard looked angry, upset and as though he was about to cry. Rudd was clearly very passionate about his ideals, but I also think the lighting was unfortunate because he got a funny shadow around his chin. Howard came across initially much more confidently but Rudd made his points much more clearly and sounded like a more truthful leader and a more honourable person.