It’s still Wednesday, June 26, 2019.

Today is also the 92nd anniversary of the opening of the Cyclone roller coaster at Brooklyn’s Coney Island.

Will tonight’s Democratic debate, part one, have lots of ups and downs, like the Cyclone? Or will it feel more like the fire truck ride  that goes around in a slow circle so you can put a 2-year-old on for a little excitement?

My post earlier today gave some thoughts about what will constitute a good question and what will be a clunker. 

In general, I think good questions for a first debate focus on specific issues so that we have an idea what these men and women believe. I think lousy questions are the ones that address personalities and trivialities.

Because I can’t go to a baseball game without keeping score, I’ve spent the day devising a scoring system for this debate. I’d rather do that than the drinking game some of you intend to play, because I’ve never understood why people need the contents of a speech or debate as an excuse to get soused.

My scorekeeping will cover both the 10 candidates on the stage and the five NBC Universal moderators. 

There is, of course, an element of subjectivity in this. But I promise this: I will score this debate as objectively as I can – if a candidate gives a good answer that I disagree with, I’ll try hard to score it as a good answer.

Anyway here are the categories and the scoring:


The questions asked are scored five different ways: very good question, plus 2 points; good question, 1 point; mezza mezza, 0; bad question, minus 1 point; stupid question, minus 2 points.

There will be an overall debate score that I’ll try to keep as a running score on my Twitter feed: @MMMRaisin.

And then I’ll apply the points to each of the moderators. If Lester Holt asks three really good questions, one mezza mezza and a clunker, his score is 4. 

I might weight it depending on whether some of the moderators hog the asking time – why am I thinking Jose Diaz-Balart won’t fare that well tonight.


There’s one objective measure of success: Who gets in the most answers.

If Elizabeth Warren answers nine of the questions and Bill de Blasio only answers one, that should say something about how realistic de Blasio’s chances are.

But if one of the second tier candidates – say John Delaney – manages to get in more answers than Cory Booker, that also might tell us something about this process.

The other score I’m keeping is quality answers. This is, like the question quality, subjective. Again, it’s not whether I agree with the answer, but whether the candidate presented her or his answer well.

In instances when seven to 10 candidates answer a question, I’ll give a point to the top three answers and take one away from the worst. Between four and six candidates answering, a point to the top two answers and a point lost for the worst. 

Between two and three, a good answer gets a point, a bad answer loses one. If a question goes to only one person, the point gets awarded or subtracted depending on how he or she answers.

Obviously, I’ll be working out the bugs throughout the debate.

But, no matter what, this should be interesting.

We’ve been looking forward to this since Nov. 9, 2016, when we all first began figuring out how to get Trump out. It starts tonight in Miami – and only gets tougher as we go along.


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