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July 1, 2010 / compassioninpolitics

How to Write a Policy Debate Case: A Checklist for Affirmative Casing

This is a basic guide to affirmative casing for policy debate. Remember, some of the work you can divide among partners or the squad. Doing affirmative work, particularly for the 2nd affirmative speech is one of the single easiest and most effective ways to up your win-loss average significantly.

1) Research topic (pay particular attention to government documents, think tank articles, law review articles, and academic articles–as they often form the basis for solvency advocates and they are often qualitatively better evidence which will serve you well in close debates)
2) Re-read articles by your authors (read aff & neg authors as possible. If you don’t have these articles available at your local library, you will want to goto a college library and email yourself the articles. The main other alternative method to get the articles you need is to have them sent by interlibrary loan–which is generally relatively inexpensive.)
3) Re-read core articles for core counterplans and disadvantages on the topic
4) Read both affirmative and negative camp files on the affirmative you have chosen *****
5) If the year has already begun, check out the high schoool debate case list info. Its fantastic for competitive intelligence. (Look for solvency advocates as well as advantage areas which you may have overlooked–and which can be pursued as 1ac evidence or as add on advantages. Also look for more up to date and more qualified evidence on date sensitive evidence)
6) Decide which advantages you want to run (generally can’t be impact turned–or you have a nuanced way to answer the impact turn debate). Are you going to run a big stick or more squirrel-like affirmative??? Which advantages can help you in answering counterplans, disad, critiques, and case arguments???
7) As possible set up an impact calculous in the affirmative case.
8] Win inevitability (this will help you in debating your case and disads versus your case–it will help you set up try or die stories)
9) Pre-empt and build in the answers to common negative answers to your affirmative. *******
10) Determine the most dangerous arguments versus your affirmative: counterplans, case arguments, disadvantages (politics), critiques, and topicality arguments.
11) Write 2ac blocks to common negative arguments. File your 2ac blocks in expando files. (its common to have these filed on a computer, but I think your 2ac blocks are so important that you should have a hard copy that is easily accessible) ********
12) Learn more about evidence comparison and impact comparison. You may also want to investigate insight on the work of Stephen Toulmin who is a respected argument scholar. (his work has formed the basis of the claim-warrant-data structure and schemata in contemporary policy debate).

I can’t over-emphasive how much knowing the territory of what you are debating is–by reading the files. As you read the files, read them critically looking for strengths and weaknesses. You will also want to bracket/underline/highlight the files as you read. I also can’t over-emphasize how important having pre-prepared 2ac blocks (or frontlines) is for taking your game to the next level. What are the holes in my research? What are the hole in my affirmative? How can I fill those holes? Don’t be afraid to seek out the help or insight of an experienced debater, debate coach, or lab leader.

To learn more: (TBA)


Leave a Comment
  1. compassioninpolitics / Jul 1 2010 4:08 am

    Ask yourself:

    how can we access hegemomy?
    how can we access the economy?
    how can we access proliferation?
    how can we access democracy?
    how can we access soft power?

    ultimately: how can our affirmative access the big impacts that negative disads will be based on?

    Also ask yourself: do we have multiple mechanisms for solvency? (do we solve via perception, by a change in signal, by a budget or focus trade off, and/or via actual changes of boots on the ground or perhaps by some other mechanism)

  2. compassioninpolitics / Jul 1 2010 4:11 am


    how can I use specificity to my advantage?
    how can I use contrast/juxtaposition to my advantage?

    what are the core strategic advantages of my affirmative vs. the counterplan vs. the critique and vs. politics???

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