Students in the Department of Politics and Government are participating in a multi-university research project to assess the performances of President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney in their presidential debates. Students in the course, titled Voting and Elections (POL 310) and taught by Professor Carl Palmer, participated by watching the debates live and evaluating the candidates in real-time using either their smartphones or Internet connected computers or tablets.
This collaborative academic research project titled, “React Labs: Educate” is being conducted by Professors Amber Boydstun of the University of California, Davis, and Rebecca Glazier of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. In addition to taking part in the survey, students discussed the outcome of each debate in the context of the aggregated data evaluating each candidate’s performance gathered by React Labs from all participants across the country, and compare those with data at the state and local levels.
The project and the participation of ISU students was the first of its kind throughout the nation. Professor Palmer explained that “Social media has become a very powerful force in how people understand politics, particularly among the younger generation of voters.” The project and the participation drew attention from local and national media. (See Pantagraph reports here: http://www.pantagraph.com/news/local/government-and-politics/elections/isu-students-to-watch-tweet-about-presidential-debate/article_256fdece-0cf5-11e2-8298-001a4bcf887a.html and here: http://www.pantagraph.com/news/local/college-students-in-survey-favor-obama-say-romney-won-debate/article_7a501c4a-0e7d-11e2-8aab-0019bb2963f4.html
Professor Palmer’s students will continue to participate in the project for the upcoming debate on October 22.