Monday, July 23, 2007

Research by MU Professor Anaylyzes Questioning of Presidential Candidates in Debates

Several months ago I wrote two entries about doing U.S. Presidential searches, American Idol style. One entry was entitled "Find our Next President American Idol Style," and another was entitled "Great Mind Think Alike."

Then during the summer, prior to the July 23rd Democractic forum on CNN, a new twist was introduced to the format. For the first time, candidates were questioned by everyday citizens via video by YouTube.

Mitchell S. McKinney, associate professor of communication at the University of Missouri-Columbia, drew calls from across the nation to analyze the debate Democratic forum.

McKinney, an international expert on presidential debates, has analyzed the process of citizens questioning candidates during debates and how Internet and video technology might be used in televised debates to engage young voters.

His research shows:

1. When citizens question candidates during debates, such as Town Hall debates, their questions are fundamentally different than those by journalists.

2. Debates in which citizens are involved as questioners result in less candidate clash and also elicit more direct candidate responses.

3. Viewers of debates, in which questions are asked by citizens, report greater learning and higher levels of interest in the on-going campaign.

4. McKinney's research also shows that candidate forums and debates that involve innovations such as the use of video segments and Internet questions are particularly effective in reaching younger voters.

To learn more about Mitchell McKinney, visit


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