Here's a Fun and Simple Democratic Primary Debate Pool for You and All Your Nerd Friends

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Here's a Fun and Simple Democratic Primary Debate Pool for You and All Your Nerd Friends

For better or worse (note: worse), my foremost talent in life is devising semi-entertaining gambling pools based around big events. Usually it has a sports angle, but once in a while I branch out to the civilian world. The first Democratic primaries—to be held later this week starting Wednesday night—are a great opportunity for such a foray, because they are going to be an absolute unredeemed debacle, and if you think that you can milk some enjoyment out of the chaos by submitting to some kind of drinking game, I have bad news for you: You will perish from alcohol poisoning in roughly six minutes. And on a Wednesday, of all nights. Don’t die on hump day for John Hickenlooper, folks.

No, what’s required here is something more creative, and something more sober. Which means a pool.

This one is relatively simple: For each night, you and your friends will answer ten questions, and at the end of Thursday’s debate, the winner will be the man or woman who gets the most right. Here’s a template for the questions, which you should obviously feel free to adjust as you see fit:


1. Will John Delaney say the word “socialism” at least two times?

2. Will Amy Klobuchar have to defend herself for being a holy terror to her staff?

3. How many of the ten candidates will reference Joe Biden?

4. Will the name Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez come up?

5. Will anyone bring up the recent sexual assault allegation against Trump by E. Jean Carroll?

6. Will the name “Merrick Garland” come up, or will someone reference a “stolen” Supreme Court seat? (“Stolen”-adjacent words also count.)

7. Who will be the first candidate to be critical of Medicare for All or universal coverage in general? (This includes saying something along the lines of “If people want to keep their private insurance, I won’t say no.”)

8. Will any candidate praise Donald Trump for calling off the Iran strike at the last minute, even if they temper the praise with criticism?

9. Will any candidate speak Spanish, even for a single word (shared words like “no” don’t count, grow up)? OR will the word “Hinduism” be uttered? (Only one of the two has to happen for a successful “yes” answer.)

10. Will anyone, including a moderator, reference Warren’s DNA test?


1. Will the name “Ilhan Omar” come up?

2. Will Joe Biden say the words “work together” or “across the aisle” in reference to Republicans?

3. Will Pete Buttigieg’s last name be blatantly mispronounced more than 2 times? (Collectively, by anyone)

4. Will Bernie Sanders be asked about being a millionaire/rich?

5. Will the word “spiritual” be uttered by or about Marianne Williamson?

6. Will John Hickenlooper reference the idea of “too far left” or “too extreme” or anything similar in reference to another candidate?

7. Will Biden be asked about his #MeToo tendencies by a moderator, or will it be referenced by another candidate?

8. Will any candidate say “I like Bernie” before criticizing him? (words like “admire” or similar are also fine)

9. Will Andrew Yang reference his universal basic income proposal in a question that doesn’t ask about it specifically, aside from an opening or closing statement?

10. Will the word “truant” be uttered at any point, by anyone? (“Truancy” also counts)


There you have it! Now, because I’m a pool degenerate, and can only achieve satisfaction by increasingly weird rules and regulations, I’ve come up with a few scoring twists that add a little bit of strategy and make things a little more intriguing. If you’re a novice, feel free to keep it simple and ignore what comes next. But here are the additional instructions I’ll be sending to my fellow deep-end freaks:

1. You will answer nine of ten questions for each night. You will divide these questions into tiers. Your three TOP TIER questions will yield three points for every correct answer. Your MID TIER questions will yield two points for every correct answer. Your LOW TIER questions will yield one point for every correct answer.

2. Nine of ten? Yes indeed! Because there is one question in every ten that you will designate your SUSIE Q. What does that mean?

By choosing to designate a question as your Susie Q, you, like Sen. Susan Collins, are electing to not care about the ramifications of this question and instead are screwing everyone in the pool who decided to answer this question. (Full credit: This last graf, and the concept itself, comes from my pal Miles.)

Each night, the two questions that have the most Susie Q designations across the group will be weaponized against you. Anyone who answers them CORRECTLY will receive negative points based on the tier. If it’s your top tier, you will get -3. Mid tier, -2. Lower tier, -1. Wrong answers will be 0 points as normal.

Accept or reject those little wrinkles as you see fit. And one final note: I highly recommend starting an email thread during the debates to watch your fellow competitors agonize with each new plot twist. It’s the most fun you can have while watching 20 people trip over themselves to say something memorable.

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