OPINION: One week down, one to go. The Labour leadership race is only at its midway point and we probably already know more than we need to about each of the three candidates.
Shane Jones knows how to work a crowd and has the most conviction, but is not averse to punching below the belt.
David Cunliffe has an evangelical style of delivery that works well with the Labour faithful and would give Brian Tamaki a run for his money - but his colleagues worry he does not know where to draw the line.
Grant Robertson is capable of combining the best of both his rivals on a good day - wit and passion - but for someone who wants the job so much he has done the worst job among the three contenders of showing it.
Here is a recap of the race so far.
Shane Jones. Jones has fallen from grace, been out in the cold, lost in the wilderness and generally drifted in the last few years after being hit by revelations he clocked up blue movies on his ministerial credit card, and then stood down by David Shearer while questions about a citizenship application were investigated.
However, the leadership race has been a reminder of what might have been and entering it a stroke of pure genius on Jones' part.
Tipped as a leadership contender when he first entered Parliament, he has finally delivered on the promise.
The race has also allowed him to reach over the top of the party's Left-wing activist base to reconnect with Labour's lost tribe of blue collar, socially conservative voters.
That will give him a sizeable personal following that should guarantee him a high list place, and remind the party of why he brings such value to Labour.
He may have alienated too many powerful factions in the party to win but he is far from an also-ran.
It has been a largely pratfall-free race - Jones saying he would string a bungee cord around John Key's sensitive parts is the exception - but while less visible, that does not mean to say the candidates have not made some strategic blunders.
Robertson was completely blindsided by the theatre surrounding Cunliffe's nomination and looked decidedly casual about putting his name forward in comparison.
Since it was Camp Robertson that did the numbers against Shearer this is surprising - and if it was a deliberate strategy to avoid Robertson looking too hungry for the job it backfired.
Cunliffe's launch on the other hand was equal parts of brilliance and farce.
To the converted it shored up their belief in Cunliffe as a conviction politician; to his opponents, it verged on parody and only served to entrench their disquiet about his leadership potential.
In repositioning himself well to the Left of his colleagues Cunliffe has cleverly tapped into the toxic divide between Labour's increasingly hard-line activists and the caucus.
But with the likes of Left-wing flag bearer Chris Trotter painting him as a revolutionary, expectations have been ratcheted up beyond what is realistic.
Cult-Cunliffe members are likely to be disappointed to discover that in repositioning the party Cunliffe will go about as far as pragmatism allows without losing sight of the end goal, which is to win the next general election. That means taking Labour closer to the centre, not further away from it.
Jones' colleagues will be wondering why he waited nearly a decade to apply himself.
Robertson has also been a revelation to many of those among the party faithful who had gone into the contest with their minds firmly made up to vote for Cunliffe.
But it has largely been a flawless performance by all three and supporters will see what they want to see. Robertson has reinforced his credentials as one of Labour's smartest MPs and an impressive speaker, while Cunliffe has shown that when he hits all the right notes he can be formidable.
The race has clearly invigorated Labour's rank and file and has removed any doubt that removing Mr Shearer was the right thing to do. Any three of the contenders would do a better job of taking the fight to National and articulating Labour's cause. The only question remaining for rank and file will be why the caucus waited so long?
In the race to "out-Left" each other, Cunliffe and Robertson have made extravagant promises about policy which is yet to be signed off by the caucus and which they will be under pressure to dump on the campaign trail.
WHO IS AHEAD?
Follow the money, the saying goes. In this race, it's a case of following some key movers and shakers within the party.
Within the caucus, Robertson clearly has the numbers, though Camp Cunliffe says it is closer than Robertson's backers portray.
The Cunliffe team may be counting on second preferences from Jones' backers falling his way, and that will certainly be a factor in the party vote.
Meanwhile, finance spokesman David Parker and former union boss Andrew Little remain enigmas.
Both are hugely influential within the caucus and while Parker is seen as a firm Robertson man, a nod in the other direction would send ripples through the caucus.
Little is also seen as influencing how others will vote, including members of the powerful Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, but has so far kept his poweder dry.
With the unions set to play kingmaker, Cunliffe and Robertson have both been working the union numbers extensively.
The Dairy Workers Union has come out publicly for Cunliffe and a number of other smaller unions have privately given him their endorsement as well.
But the EPMU is the heaviest hitter of them all and the fact that Camp Cunliffe is not claiming its support suggests it is not confident EPMU votes will fall his way.
The other big factor is the MPs themselves.
They are lobbying their electorates extensively and some who are strongly in the Robertson camp - like former party presidents Maryan Street and Ruth Dyson - will have a big influence on how the wider party votes.
So while Cunliffe may have started out ahead with the rank and file, that is balanced out by Robertson's edge with the caucus and possibly the unions both of which, dollar for dollar, carry more clout per vote.
However, weekend polls could throw the cat among the pigeons and cause a rethink both among MPs and the wider party. Sources say many MPs are waiting till the last moment and may vote tactically by backing whoever the party favours in order to present a united front.
It is not surprising then that no one is ready to call it just yet.
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