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Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Republican Presidential Primary Debate Super Contest!

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - The media wants to limit the field... but we have better ideas.

The most important media events of 2015 will be E3, and the start of the Republican Party presidential debates. If the Democrat Party actually had a schedule set up (and an actual selection of candidates), they'd be worth mentioning, but as of publishing they got nothing resembling definitive. So here's the Republican schedule.

The first debate is with Fox News on August 6, and the second is with CNN on September 16. Here's the thing though... While there are six officially-declared candidates now (Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee), that number is apparently expected to jump to sixteen by the first debate. There are some unannounced heavy-hitters in the wings, like Jeb Bush (aka the Democrat's choice to win) and Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.

Basically, the field is going to get crowded very quickly. Reminder that four years ago in 2011, the traditional set of eight candidates we got used to (nine if you count Gary Johnson) was just that... eight. That's half of sixteen, and what happened with those eight was that everyone not named Mitt Romney or Ron Paul got to take turns becoming the anti-Romney candidate, with Americans slowly learning about all the candidates as they got their momentary spotlight.

There's a problem with that now, though. 

There will only be half as many debates this time (only 11 compared to over 20) but over twice the candidates. There simply isn't enough time for everyone to get their spotlight. The long, epic soap opera we enjoyed last time is now gonna be abridged. We're sad about that, and I'm sure the television networks are, too. But they find it too hard to organise sixteen people on one stage, so they're restricting access.

Team Newt Gingrich for President 2012 Chuck Norris Ricky Perry Herman Cain
It's especially hard if one candidate brings eight other dudes with him as his entourage.

Fox News will be requiring candidates to be in the top ten of the most recent five national polls before the debate. According to the Washington Post,
"To qualify, candidates must place in the top 10 of an average of the five most recent national polls by Aug. 4 at 5 p.m. Eastern time. Such polling must be conducted by major, nationally recognized organizations that use standard methodological techniques."
Basically, candidates will get to know what's going on two days in advance. Well, consistently top-tier guys will probably rest easy and know they'll get in, but the dudes in the fringes for 5th place or below will have no idea. And debate prep takes a lot of time and effort, because you gotta stay inside and practice all day instead of travel around and fund-raise.

I mean, you could try to get surrogates to fund-raise for you, but it's not as effective as proven by Chief of Strategic Planning & Development at Friends of Herman Cain, Mark Block. Not to say he wouldn't still be great in Smash, of course! (See immediately below.)

CNN will apparently have two groups of people.
"The Sept. 16, 2015 event will be divided into two parts featuring two groups of candidates. One grouping will feature the top 10 candidates according to public polling, and the other will include candidates who meet the minimum threshold of 1 percent in public polling but are ranked outside the top 10."
So there is the same top 10 that Fox has, but also this second group. This means that as long as all sixteen candidates can attract 10 people (assuming polling size of 1,000 people), then all will get some kind of air-time. Probably not much, since these things are 90 minutes with commercials eating into that. So that's like five minutes a candidate, assuming that time is distributed equally. Which they aren't, since everyone knows that debate moderators are biased.

By the way, the margin of error on these polls can range from 3% to 6%, depending on sample size. That's a huge variation, especially since fractions of a percent can mean the difference between getting into the top 10 or not. And let's not forget the financial values here: National exposure on these debates is equivalent to literally millions of dollars in contributions. It's troubling that the media can essentially choose who our candidates are for us.

But we have an alternative solution.

So if the Republicans are going after television networks, then KoopaTV would love to host one of these, too. How to do this properly is a careful question, so we looked to one of our favourite games for inspiration: Pokémon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum. (That series is officially sanctioned by former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain for usage in presidential debates, so we're clear.)

Rick Perry glasses posing audience Visual Competition dress-up
Former Republican presidential candidate and Texas governor,
and possible this-time contender, Rick Perry.
(Now with glasses.)

We propose that every Republican that has officially declared his or her candidacy be put on the KoopaTV stage to engage in three rounds: The Visual Competition, the Dance Competition, and the Acting Competition.

For the Visual Competition, candidates must dress the part of being a president. Does this mean putting on your best suit and tie? What uncharted territory would potential first-female president Carly Fiorina wear? Will Rick Santorum return and try to stand out from the crowd with his sweater-vests?

Senator Lindsey Graham South Carolina Visual Competition Pokémon Super Contest dress-up shameful ugly
Those that don't look the part, like 99.9%-certain-to-run
South Carolinian senator Lindsey Graham, won't impress anyone.

For the Dance Competition, everyone knows that to be president of the United States, you gotta know how to dance. That's a bipartisan tradition.

So yeah. Presidents and presidential candidates need to dance. Some say (the YouTube description for the above video, anyway) that Obama managed to defeat Hillary Clinton back in 2007-2008 because he danced and Hillary didn't. I'm willing to accept that theory, especially since now we need a Republican in 2015-2016 to defeat the same foe that Obama did. It's a gold-mine for viral-ness, and apparently that's what it takes to win now.

So... Acting Competition. You gotta act like a president, too. And show your moves. Basically, KoopaTV would ask the candidates questions like they would be asked in a job interview... Behaviourial-based questions. Not stupid wastes of their time and yours, but real questions asking what a president would do given real circumstances. That's the best way to figure out how they'd govern.

This isn't unprecedented. We look back to Herman Cain for a perfect example.

We would subject all the candidates to a few of these, and then allow closing remarks from everyone.

We think through this contest system, voters will better understand who would truly be the best president... and also the best presidential candidate. It's a much better idea than to eliminate the debates altogether, as KoopaTV's sister station CainTV suggested. Shame on Dan Calabrese for wanting to eliminate the debates, because his boss, Herman Cain, would've never rose to prominence without them.

We don't need to eliminate the debates... but we can transform them into new opportunities like KoopaTV's Super Contest!

KoopaTV needs more Interviews to populate its Interviews category. KoopaTV would like to interview with any interested (or un-interested) presidential candidate, so please Contact Us to organise that. Full disclosure: The author of this article supported Herman Cain for president in 2012, and currently supports Rand Paul for president.

We know who will be participating in the first debate: Everyone! Fox changed the rules, though different than our suggestion.

The results of the Super Contest circuit in the Republican presidential primaries are here.
The Super Contest format has been adopted to its own videogame produced by KoopaTV: The Wonderful 1237!
Lindsey Graham's minigame in The Wonderful 1237 was directly adapted from the idea of him dancing due to this article.


  1. Now, I'm not complaining, because he's always been my choice, but you know you listed Huckabee twice?

    1. ...No, I didn't know that.

      ...I'll let my QA department know that. (Dammit, Rawk.)


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