Several reporters have called to explore “what’s at stake” in tonight’s U.S. Senate debate and “what Hagan and Tillis have to do.”
Well, the answer is a lot simpler than we make it sometimes in politics.
The media will bravely try to focus on substance and whether either candidate “said something new.” (The candidates and their respective camps certainly hope not.)
The partisans will see what they want to see, unless their own candidate either shines or stumbles. And you can always tell, not matter how brave the front.
A lot of the back-and-forth tonight will go over most viewers’ heads. Experienced legislators like Tillis and Hagan especially have a bad habit of lapsing into mind-numbing policy and process talk.
Here are the two best ways to judge who won and who lost.
First, make it a drinking game (two or more participants required): One takes a drink every time Tillis talks about Obama. The other takes a drink every time Hagan talks about the legislature’s cuts to education. Whoever ends up drunkest, that candidate won. (You can also do this by yourself, taking a drink each time each candidate scores. This will ensure you don’t remember a thing from the debate.)
The second way: Turn off the sound and just watch. See if one candidate or the other looks more confident, comfortable and in command. That is the winner.