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July 10, 2012 / compassioninpolitics

What kinds of arguments win policy debate rounds?

The obvious answer means that you have to go one or two steps deeper than they have.

Also, just be better at comparison & integration & big picture.

I remember watching a camp lecture on strategies that win the most:
1) counterplan + DA (that doesn’t link to the counterplan or links less to the counterplan than the affirmative) + case
2) critique.
3) topicality/theory
attempting to winning debate on disadvantages alone is generally not going to be a good long term strategy. And realize that most judges have a different threshold and understanding for theory/topicality debates–this is usually only a good strategy to get them to link to your DA or K….or if you have a pretty clean kill (ie obvious violation that doesn’t link to the whole topic)–the most egregious example of this is a truely extra-topical affirmative.

This should focus you a bit more on prepping for counterplans–if you don’t already.

I think one of the best strategies which is underutilized is realizing how cards in affirmative files (particularly systemic change affs or fix the system affs) are often arguments for the neg (ie their aff won’t do much of anything). Also, in general using the mechanism the aff uses as a means to win debates (or at least take out large parts of the affirmative). Making quality analytic arguments–using true and/or historically and/or intuitively grounded arguments.

What does this get back to…..identifying argument by 1) type 2) impact 3) grounding/credibility. Using argument type (or schema) to isolate what are the types of arguments which are made against–using argument similarity (ie link story) to your advantage. For instance, social movements disad has certain assumptions about it which its smart to point out. The immigration disad (from a couple years ago) which relied on us having a low economy had certain fundamental issues. Understanding argument patterns or schema can help you see the strengths and weaknesses in arguments.

Focusing on the offense….but extending the defense and implicating it. It shouldn’t take much time to extend your defense on the aff. case.

And on the aff….set your aff up to answer the counterplan (ie an advantage or two which explains why US is key linked to your solvency mech). Also, add-on, add-on, add-on……and having a nuanced way to answer the case negative. Understanding that literature when taken as a whole.

How do you prepare for squirrel affirmatives?

Its usually pretty easy to have a 3 generic go to strategies:
1) politics + CP
2) process counterplan + DA
3) two or three K strategies

As a last ditch effort you can use a backfile check (ie Malthus or death good or other counterintuitive arguements).


Its really a thought experiment or model of sorts. Its a helpful estimation based on the mechanism & patterns of decision-making by the norm of judging in the community.

Its not a question of does the data exist–its a question of:
1. What is most defensible from a debater perspective?
2. What fits with the ways in which judges make decisions? (ie their method or algorithm of making decisions). AKA Offense/Defense paradigm
3. How can the negative adjust for the multiple advantages the aff has and make adjustments for the aff having the last speech?

The exact numbers aren’t a question. Its a comparative question–not an exact science.

For instance, #1 & #2 are relatively close in number or very close (in fact they may be flip-flopped on occassion)–#3 though is probably far less often.

Heres how those numbers might play out:
1. 37 % Counteplan + Disad
2. 37% Critique with alternative or Framework
3. 10% Topicality or Theory for the neg.
4. 6% other

And for teams that are good at #1 or #2 when matched with judges which prefer their style…….are obviously as a general rule best served by using that style.

It was mostly to point out that DAs alone can’t win debates. Also, counterplans set up two key things for the neg:
1. possible element of surprise and/or ground shift
2. creates good research focus tradeoff (ie 2 to 3 hours to prep a counterplan versus far, far, far in depth on case debate)
3. creates great time tradeoff in general

One other way to think about it is it shifts the language of try or die from the aff….to the negative.

Its important to realize this….because it can slightly alter which disads you research, block out, run, and go for in the block and 2NR. Although you still want to look legit out of the gates with your other DAs & positions. The same goes for case arguments that link to the counterplan versus that can be net benefits to the coutnerplan (ie specific solvency turns that link to the aff and not the negative). Those can be huge in the block & the 2NR.

Does that explain it better? What should I clarify?


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