Dial Testing’s Legacy with the State of the Union Address

For twelve years running, Dialsmith has been conducting dial testing research on the president’s State of the Union Address, and this year is no exception. On March 1, when President Biden gets invited before the joint chambers of Congress to deliver the 2022 State of the Union, focus groups, consisting of a mix of Democratic, Republican and Independent voters, will be watching with dials in hand, sharing their continuous, second-by-second opinions. Results will be assessed and scrutinized and insights will be shared with those who have interest in how the president’s policies and messages “scored” with voters–everyone from the president himself, to the policy makers, to the campaigners, to the viewing public.

Why has dial testing become so ingrained in scoring the State of the Union? Perhaps, political and public opinion professor Dan Schill, Ph.D. said it best:

dial testing state of the union address

“Dial testing plays a meaningful role through its ability to capture real-time, second-by-second responses from voters throughout the span of the address. The data from the dials allow us to identify and rank which issues are making an impact on voters and pushing opinion in either a positive or negative direction. And the ability to capture this information in real-time is a unique benefit of using the dials.

We’re interested in understanding the larger role these messages play in helping voters form their opinions about candidates and how those messages and opinions impact their voting decisions. The dial research gives us a very rich and detailed view into which arguments and which issues are most influencing voters. So, it’s a significant piece of the puzzle.”

With a pandemic still gripping the country, this will be the first year where both in-person and online dial testing are used extensively. While limitations exist around using online dial testing for live streams, some researchers will be conducting online focus groups and using online dial testing to gauge opinions on recorded clips from the State of the Union. The ability to view dial testing results in real-time allows for deeper, follow-up discussion focused specifically on the moments and messages that “moved the needle” both positively and negatively with voters.

If you’re looking for an experienced partner that can help you tap into the opinions and reactions of voters tuning into the upcoming State of the Union Address, give us a shout.

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