What if we scored political debates and declared a winner?

By Richard Lee

Following Tuesday’s debate between New York gubernatorial candidates Kathy Hochul and Lee Zeldin, supporters of each candidate declared victory. If athletic contests were conducted this way, fans would simply declare their team the winner and go home happy regardless of the score.

Obviously, a baseball or football game is not the same as a political debate, but voters might benefit if politicians take a few tips from the world of sports and apply them to debates. After all, the value of today’s political debates is questionable. They stick with their talking points regardless of the questions, and they attack each other. The amount of information that helps voters make informed and educated decisions is minimal.

What if we were to actually score debates and declare real winners? We rely on panels of judges to assign scores for gymnastics, figure skating and other Olympic contests. We could do the same with debates. The judges could consider factors such as the accuracy of candidates’ statements and how closely they answer the actual questions that are asked — and then assign scores, which would be averaged for a final score.

Of course, getting two opposing campaigns to agree on a panel of judges would be an enormous challenge. And losing candidates are likely to blast the judges and the process. Clearly, it is unrealistic to think that someday we will conduct debates this way, but it is not unrealistic —  and it it probably would be beneficial for our democracy —  to re-examine and re-invent this part of the nation’s political process.

Categories: Jandoli Institute, On the Road to Albany, Politics, richleeonline

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