Next year, New Hampshire will have its over-important primary, right after Iowa's over-important caucus, followed by whatever it is that South Carolina does. As a side-note, I will acknowledge that of course this is crazy, but the combination is relatively representative of the country, and these are small, inexpensive places for candidates to give it a try, So just suck it up, America.
There are so many candidates on the Democratic side this time around that there has to be some way of getting control. As we have just gone through the NCAA basketball championships, we are all familiar with that tournament style. I propose that we have a Democratic debate bracket. We really should have done it in 2016 with the Republicans and their Gold Rush Boarding House of candidates but we didn't. We already have more than 16 candidates. I don't think we'll get to a full bracket of 32, but we might. We can give the top candidates a bye for one round. As with the NCAA, we can hold more than one debate per night, with an eye to prime time. Pit the #1 Candidate in the polls versus the #16 in a one-on-one debate, followed a week later by the "winner*" going up against the winner of the #8 vs #9 debate.
I thought of this as just funny at first, but looking at it, I like it even more. An obscure candidate gets a much better shot at presenting her case than otherwise, going head-to-head with Bernie or Kamala or whomever. Yes, that obscure candidate will probably not prevail, but she will get a much better venue. I think those one-on ones would draw, much better than the current fraudulently moderated items. The Democratic powers could say to the little ones "Hey, you had your chance, don't blame us." The favorites could try to play it safe but that could explode on them. I would absolutely sign on to watching this, while I wouldn't watch five minute of the Democratic debates otherwise. Whoever wins will have to go head-to-head against single Republican anyway. You might as well learn who's up for that.
Who a candidate drew as a matchup in each round would have some luck and unfairness attached to it, just as happens in your high school state field hockey tournament. Too bad. Deal with it. Of course Hillary Clinton wouldn't have wanted to debate the #8 candidate last time around - too much risk. But Democrats would have seen what they needed to to help her in the finals against Donald. They didn't, and she didn't. I suspect under that system Bernie would have done even better; Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina would have done better. I don't know about Trump. Would this have been death for him, or exactly his best venue? I don't know.
Here are the current numbers. The current debates would be Gillibrand-Buttigieg. Awesome. Booker-Gabbard. Oh man, I would absolutely tune in for that. Castro-Booker. Pretty good. Bloomberg versus Beto O'Rourke. Yes, yes, yes! Of course, I think anyone one-on-one versus Beto exposes him as a cipher. i don't know who Warren and Biden draw in the first round. It would still be more fun. Head-to-head. That's what we want.
* the argument over who won the previous week's debate would also be fun. If a low ranking candidate shot up from 1% to 8%, isn't that a win? Or do we just stick with next week's poll numbers? Run the tournament twice, once in September and another in Dec-Jan.