Dial Testing Called Back into Duty to Deliver Real-Time Returns on the Presidential Debates

Presidential debate dial testing focus group
Next Monday night, when NBC Nightly News Anchor and Presidential Debate Moderator Lester Holt thanks the two candidates for their participation and brings to a close the first presidential debate, the early returns on the candidates’ performances will already be in; the key responses, zingers and messages will have already been identified and measured; and the thoughts and perceptions of focus groups of undecided voters will have already be tallied.

Long gone are the days where political researchers and pollsters waited until after the debate was over and done with to try to get into the minds of voters and reach their conclusions, and where the media and viewing public waited patiently for results.

While the need for real-time returns and immediate reactions is a relatively new phenomena, the tried-and-true tools and method being used to deliver those real-time returns has been counted on for more than 30 years. In fact, it was Ronald Reagan’s re-election campaign, back in 1984, that first brought broad attention to “dial testing” as an effective method and the Perception Analyzer as an effective tool for political researchers and pollsters to gather critical, real-time feedback.

Now, on the verge of arguably the most highly anticipated Presidential Debate in history, dial testing will again play a prominent role in revealing how each candidate performed on both a macro and micro level with voters of varying demographics. Major news networks, such as CNN and Fox News, will feature results from their own dial testing focus groups, in order to give their audiences the instant analysis and returns we’ve all now come to expect. While, behind the scenes, political campaign consultants will be running dial testing groups of their own to find answers to the key questions their campaigns are looking for in order to rework and/or fine tune their messages heading into the final weeks of the election.

So, as a quick primer for all the upcoming dial testing returns and results you’ll be hearing about in coming weeks, here’s some clips of dial testing coverage from past presidential debates.

Courtesy of FOX News


Courtesy of CNN


Courtesy of CNN