Who won? Who lost? Was a knockout blow landed? How should the debates be analysed? Is there an objective measure to determine who succeeded? Sporting metaphors abound (well actually boxing metaphors, mainly). But me, I’m going to use another sport for my analysis metaphor, one which unites me with suburban American Heartland homemakers: soccer.

Firstly, the clubs: It’s Obama-Biden FC v McCain-Palin United

Secondly: Tournament format: Four games with the first, third and fourth being contested by the clubs’ first teams, the second set aside for each club’s reserves. Winner determined by aggregate scores over the four matches.

Game 1: Team Obama v Team McCain. Played on what was supposed to be Team McCain’s hope patch, a late change in weather conditions combined with knocks picked up by Team McCain through over-exertion in an external mini-tournament plays into Team Obama’s hands somewhat and the tie becomes the proverbial “game of two halves”. In the first half Team Obama go on the attack forcing Team McCain onto the backfoot. Pressure pays off as Team Obama score a tidy goal by taking advantage of weaknesses shown by Team McCain that are similar to those displayed often by the unpopular, dirty and ultimately inept Team Bush. In the second half conditions improve for Team McCain and they score an early equaliser. However Team Obama show themselves more adept at the conditions than anticipated and soon retake the lead. Team McCain continue to attack, only to find that Team Obama are happy to soak up the pressure and create chances on the counter-attack and the game finishes with no additions to the scoreline. Final Score: Team Obama 2, Team McCain 1.

Game 2: Team Biden v Team Palin. In spite of being a reserve team game, this matchup is eagerly anticipated as the experienced but unpredictable Team Biden take on the inexperienced and unfancied Team Palin. There are concerns about whether Team Palin has any ability whatsoever and whether Team Biden will be too aggressive, losing support among neutral spectators or underestimating Team Palin and lose the match. The game starts at a high tempo, with Team Palin playing at a frantic pace and managing to string some passes together, leading to a scrambled goal for them. However, Team Biden soon take control of the game, smartly absorbing pressure from Team Palin and putting together a number of fluid passing movements, creating numerous chances and scoring two goals before half-time. In the second half the pattern continues and Team Biden score two more as Team Palin seem to run out of ideas and are reduced to chasing the game frantically and putting in a couple of wild tackles. Team Palin score before the end but it’s only a consolation. The most entertaining tie of the tournament ends: Team Biden 4, Team Palin 2.

Game 3: Team Obama v Team McCain: Played at a smaller, older, small-town venue, ostensibly to test the teams ability to play at grassroots level. This turns out to be a bad decision as the pitch turns out to be small and waterlogged and not conducive to expansive soccer and leads to a dull encounter. Team McCain doesn’t seem to want to attack to strongly, possibly due to fear of Team Obama’s counterattacking ability. Team Obama, meanwhile, seem happy to absorb whatever attacks are made by Team McCain comfortably, and this makes them appear like the superior team. However the only vaguely exciting moment of the evening occurs when Team McCain pick up a yellow card for a petulant kick out at “That One”. Final Score: 0-0

Game 4: Team Obama v Team McCain: Team McCain come out fighting aggressively, knowing that they need a big performance to have a chance of catching Team Obama. However, due to inferior ability, they resort to tough and sometimes dirty challenges on Team Obama. Team Obama manage to ride most challenges but Team McCain receive a yellow card for persistent fouling. Team McCain’s tactics lead to a scrappy goal, however Team Obama’s calm passing ability lead to two goals. Final score: Team Obama 2, Team McCain 1.

So final aggregate score in the tournament: Obama-Biden FC 8 McCain-Palin Utd 4. So I hope that clears it all up.

Do you agree with this analysis? If the debates are viewed as a soccer tournament, what was the aggregate result? Vote below.

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