CNN Republican Debate 2015
CNN held the second Republican debate at the Reagan Presidential Library on Wednesday 16 September, 2015. As with all political debates the idea is to give the American people a chance to hear what the candidates have to say. Although they are not meant to be sparring matches, that is what they often become. This debate was no different.
Many people view the debate like they do a sporting event. They pull for their guy and lose sight of the bigger picture. What was said that actually fits my ideology? What was said that actually presents a plan?
I can't speak for you to answer these questions, but I can discuss what I saw based on my beliefs. I strongly believe that our country must have a strong military, backed by a strong economy, and supported by strong moral character.
A strong military not only protects us from outside attacks, but it supports our goals in the international community. This gives our diplomatic efforts a punch to back up our words. A strong military goes beyond bombs and guns. It also includes supporting those that have put their lives in harms way. Veterans issues are a very important part of a strong military.
A prosperous nation is a secure nation. The economy allows us to build prosperous people, and a strong military. The issues that affect the economy ranges from jobs to the environment. On its own the economy can be a tangled web of theories.
A nation with a weak moral character is a not a nation. Where you draw your morals from does matter. Our Constitution is a framework of what the United States stands for. It is drawn from Natural Law and the Christian/Judaeo belief. “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” is the very foundation of freewill that was endowed by my creator.
Armed with these beliefs I evaluated each of the candidates in the debate. To help me with this I created a spreadsheet that allowed me to give a score (1-10) for each candidate. The score given reflected not just someone pointing out a problem that I agreed with, but how well they articulated their plan. This methodology allowed me to come to a final score based on the number of engagements each candidate had, and how that engagement met my beliefs.
Time for each candidate made no difference. Some of the candidates could have spoken for an hour and said nothing. This is the beauty of these types of debates. Substance of the engagement is worth much more than the length of the engagement.
As an example lets say that speaker A spoke 10 times, and I gave them a total score of 100 for all the engagements. The formula for their final score would be 100/10 for a final score of 10.
The issue is to be honest with yourself when giving out individual scores. As the debate was taking place I would listen to each response by the candidates, and assign the score based on how it matched my beliefs, and how well they articulated it. Everyone was given 1 point just for engaging in the question. The candidates could get a negative score for speaking, but not saying anything. Some call this a dodge. The dodge is what a politician does when he has nothing to say.
CNN asked a total of 33 questions that fell into 6 Categories. The following are the main categories and sub-categories.
-LGBT vs Faith
-Supreme Court Justices
An overall analysis of these categories would by sheer weight of the questions posed make this the Donald Trump debate. Trump had 20 engagements with the next closest being Fiorina (16) followed by Bush (15). Given the number of engagements Trump had the greatest opportunity to score points. However, the raw scores tell a different story. Trump Scored 12 points, Fiorina with 63 points, and Bush with 40 points. When measured by the score to engagement ratio Trump had a 0.6, Fiorina 3.9, and Bush 2.6. As you can see, making the most of your engagements far outweighs the number of chances you are given.
With this in mind I ranked the candidates in the following order (from highest to least).
-Cruz and Huckabee 1.85
Did these results surprise me? Yes and no. I have felt from the beginning that Marco Rubio most closely matched my beliefs (this is my bias). However, I was surprised by the knowledge Carly Fiorina displayed on military and veteran issues. Bush and Christie also surprised me by out performing Carson in military, economic, and social issues. Prior to this debate Carson was my third choice for president. However Carson seemed afraid to engage other opponents.
It is still early in this contest, and things can easily change. I do look forward to the next debate to see how these front runners do. If they flush out their knowledge of the issues I am most interested in, the rankings could change.
If you have questions or comments about my methodology they are certainly welcome.