Prof Runs GOP Debate Focus Group on Campus

January 31, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

One of the dial tests used in Friday night's debate focus group. (PHOTO BY ELISABETH BRUBAKER / THE DAILY MUSTANG)

One of the dial tests used in Friday night's debate focus group. (PHOTO BY ELISABETH BRUBAKER / THE DAILY MUSTANG)

By Elisabeth Brubaker
ebrubake@smu.edu

SMU Professor Dr. Rita Kirk held a focus group in Umphrey Lee Friday night to study the Republican reaction to the Belo debate. Kirk recruited 30 Republicans- both first time and repeat voters to participate in the focus group during the GOP Debate.

Kirk has been doing research for over 20 years. CNN first hired Kirk for the debates during the presidential election primaries. This past weekend she brought her research back to the Hilltop only one day after going to Ohio to dial test the President’s State of the Union address.

The focus groups are used to “dial test” a particular speech or event. Each participant is given a dial to record their perceptions of the candidates (or the President) at any moment throughout the speech or debate.

Kirk loves analyzing the data afterwards. During the candidates’ closing statements Kirk was able to see who did the best overall. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison had the highest rating with 73 out of 100. Governor Rick Perry got a 67 and Debra Medina got a 63.

Some participants offered their opinions of the dial testing and candidates after the debate. Watch the videos for their reactions.

(Editor’s note: Elisabeth Brubaker is a student assistant for Dr. Kirk’s research study.)

One participant said this about the “jeopardy” portion of the debate:

Another participant discussed how she reads the candidates.