Daily Archives: September 22, 2022

The First Debate: The Winner Depends On How You Judge It

The terribleness of the moderator was almost irrelevant. The first post-primary gubernatorial debate saw both candidates performing as expected. Challenger Brenda Siegel was feisty, edgy, full of ideas, and unafraid to confront a three-term incumbent. Gov. Phil Scott served up a reheated platter of customary talking points (hey, there was even a “6-3-1” callback) and getting lost in word salad whenever he strayed too far from the script.

Oh, and showing his fangs more often than you’d expect from a Nice GuyTM. He does that a lot.

So who won?

It depends.

If you judged it as a debate contest, awarding points for consistency, logic, and clarity of argument, it was Siegel. Easily.

But…

Many voters evaluate debates on personality, not policy. It’s the old “who would you want to have a beer with?” test, and Scott is our very own George W. Bush. (Without the pointless wars.) He makes people feel comfortable, especially if they just let the words flow gently by. And we do like to feel comfortable. You sit down with Siegel, she may make you a bit uneasy with her energy and passion and inconvenient litany of crises. She’s Rage Against the Machine; the governor is Ray Conniff. (Ask an old person.)

Or, she’s a straight-backed chair and Scott’s a recliner. Where you going to sit?

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