The Smoke Filled Room Primary

Under the current debate rules supported by the RNC, Brad Pitt would have a better shot of being on the debate stage than real candidates for president — Lindsey Graham (This might be a better point if he were not scoring under 1% and thus not likely to make the final 10)

There are primaries or caucuses for specific groups – social conservatives in Iowa, flinty hand-shakers in New Hampshire, Sheldon Adelson in Nevada, Mitt Romney in Utah and the Koch Brothers in various fancy resorts. The masses of the left get Netroots and the masses of the right get CPAC.

But what of the cigar smoking political professionals who once dominated the process? Should they be neglected? Are they victims? Do they need a support group? Are they not free to choose Brad Pitt or Kim Kardashian if they want? After all, the party does own the ballot lines in every state, and the hacks are the party.

Does the smoked filled room not deserve its own day in the political sun?

Since nobody else has claimed this oppressed class of sweat soaked ward healers and party bosses as their own, it is up to libertyPell to fill the void. Passing over the question of why it is necessary for libertyPell to do all the thinking around here, we propose:

The Great Republican Political Professionals Debating for Dollars Tournament

(A.K.A. The Smoke Filled Room Primary)

Here is the tournament bracket, seeded according to “hold your nose or vomit” polling principles that ask “could you support a candidate” rather than do you actually like the candidate. The flip side of “could support” (hold your nose) is “could not support” (vomit). Subtract the vomits from the hold your noses and you get an index that only sweat soaked pols could love: “we can ram this bum through.” Surely Donald Trump who scores a minus 34 by this measure should be seeded lower than Marco Rubio who scores a plus 59 and so it is with all 16 candidates seeded accordingly. We use double seeding to separate the 16 person field into three groups. The high-vomit candidates have to prove themselves by beating more opponents. With the additional exposure, they might even achieve hold-your-nose status.


Each debate will be one hour in length and — at two per night — the whole event should take about a week with a two-hour final. The candidates will have no say in the rules. This is not about transparency; it is about brass knuckles. There is mandatory betting with each candidate putting up $1 million of campaign contributions as an entry fee to be given to the winner of each round. Prior winnings are matched by subsequent entrants so there is plenty of skin in the game. This rule is, of course, a sop to greedy campaign staffers who might otherwise keep their guy out to avoid a gravy train wreck. Win a million to pay your salaries or go home.

The public can bet too and, since the televised debates will be held in Ultimate Cage Fighting rings, sports bars will flourish. A skim off the top of the betting handle and the sale of rights fees to the sports bars will supplement the contributions of the cigar (how else do you fill the rooms with smoke?) and deodorant manufacturers (most important for sweat-soaked shirts), which will be the title sponsors.

Now we get to the rules and this part is important. Remember debate winners do not actually win anything so why should the sweat soaked cigar smoking officials worry about transparency? Besides they would not be good at it since they have devoted their entire working lives to avoiding it. There will, of course, be rules but neither the candidates, nor the public nor the Democrats will be told what they are.

Here’s an example. Tweeting counts but we are not telling you how. Since everything about every person in the United States is already well known, Democratic tweets favoring one candidate (presumably because he is more embarrassing or easier to beat) might actually be counted against him. Game that system will you?

The moderators will be the last to be introduced each night and they might not even be members of the press. Nobody will know until game time. Some might be experts in the topics about which they ask questions. Sayonara talking points. I have not decided on letting them wear hoods and mask their voices with helium balloons.

The moderators will be empowered to shut off microphones as needed. What better visual than an enraged candidate waving his arms as his boring talking points are muted?

Each debate winner will be announced immediately and the loser will be required to hand over his $million on the spot then skulk off into obscurity.

Does libertyPell really need to explain the rest of the promotional opportunity here?

But think about it. Is this idea any worse than what we are doing?


3 Responses to “The Smoke Filled Room Primary”

Barrett Seaman, July 10, 2015 at 4:48 pm said:

What fun! But I’m curious on what basis you awarded byes (in one case a double) to Huckabee, Carson, Cruz, Perry and Santorum. I get Bush, Walker and Rubio.


Haven Pell, July 10, 2015 at 4:59 pm said:

Good question Barry.

Those whose “I could support” minus “I could not support” differentials were the highest got the best seedings.

The sample size (214) was too small to be statistically relevant but you get the point.

It became a little arbitrary as I moved toward the bottom of the 16 because the differentials got closer.

Outliers are Rubio (highest positive) and Trump (largest negative)


Whining About Debates - Liberty PellLiberty Pell, July 24, 2015 at 8:31 pm said:

[…] the debates, they are really just image builders for future lobbying and TV careers. For that, the tournament suggested two weeks ago would have been much better. At least more […]


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