The results of a focus group research project, sponsored by the Commission of Presidential Debates and conducted during the 1992 presidential and vice presidential debates, are reported. The study involved 625 participants from 17 states who met in 60 focus groups held during the period of the debates. Focus group participants answered questions regarding what they learned from the debates, how they assessed the formats, what improvements they wanted in future debates, and how information provided by the debates compared with that from other news sources. The 14 chapters of this volume include a summary of past research on presidential debates, an outline of the focus group methodology used here, and the results of the focus groups, including numerous quotations from focus group members. The results specifically address the questions of debate format, voter learning, reactions to the third candidate, male versus female response to the debates, opinions of student voters, analyses of disagreements among focus group members, and a set of recommendations for future debates.
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