Friday, October 16, 2015

Maybe there is no moral. It's just a bunch of stuff that happened.

It is always a little puzzling to me why there is so much discussion after every political debate over who "won." A debate is not a game show. There is no system within the debate designed to score the participants or determine who "won" or "lost." Instead we just have an opinion. "I thought X did well" or "I thought Y did badly." Any idea that someone "won" is really just an opinion masquerading as a fact.

But of course there are polls. So in that sense, you could say if a candidate's poll numbers went up after a debate, the candidate "won" and if they went down, the candidate "lost." In stark situations, I guess you could argue there is an objective winner or loser. But most of the time, the changes in the polls are within the margin or error, or different metrics point to different winners or losers. In those cases, can't we just accept that no one won or lost?

I bet even if we did that, it still wouldn't work. Everyone is so wedded to the idea that someone must have won, the much more common ambiguous result will inevitably be read as a loss for some candidate for not shining like he/she should have, or a win for some other candidate for not screwing it all up like everyone expected he/she would.