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Analysis over the extent to which televised presidential debates influence the learning of watchers or aid in information gathering about the candidates has already been done. The intention of this research is to examine the content of presidential debates to determine whether the quality of statements in presidential debates changed and to examine the extent to which viewers analyze the responses of the candidates. A ranking system has been created for the purposes of this research that ranks candidate's responses to a question posed by the moderator on a scale of "zero" to "four", with "four" being the presence of an analytical statement and "zero" consisting of vague general statements or a simple non-response to the prompt. This research aims to survey viewers about their analysis beginning with the Kennedy-Nixon debates of 1960 all the way through recent years with the Biden-Trump debates of 2020. The debate will be divided into sections, with responses by the candidates falling under a specific category such as foreign policy or personal character. Participants will then be asked to rank each candidate in each section of the debate on the scale from "zero" to "four". The purpose of this research is to identify if a trend exists in relation to relevance and substance of the candidate's responses as well as whether the quality of these responses have an effect on viewers' perception of who "won".

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Higher Education | Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Presidential Debates and Substantive Responses



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