A new innovative app which measures instant reaction showed that more than half of those watching Wednesday’s presidential debate believed Mitt Romney won – even though an overwhelming number of the thousands of college students taking part in the study were supporters of Barack Obama.
In total, 52 percent of the participants using the “React Labs: Educate” app believed Romney won the debate. However, 60 percent of those taking part plan to vote for Obama. In contrast, just 24 percent plan to vote for Romney, and 11 percent were undecided as of Wednesday.
“Romney was slightly favored as the winning debater,” according to a preliminary analysis by React Labs. “Despite strong participant agreement with Obama, most participants felt that Romney won the debate.”
The app measured immediate reaction to statements or events during the debate.
Obama received the most positive response to comments he made on corporate tax break elimination and the most negative response to his claim that he “kept that promise” to fight for the middle class, which he made during the 2008 campaign.
Romney got the most participant support on his plans to promote energy independence and foreign trade to improve the economy, while participants responded most negatively to his energy policy stands, such as support for coal and Canadian oil.
Most who responded agreed with Obama, while Romney had the same number of people agreeing with him as disagreeing with him.
Participants also demonstrated their ability to differentiate between concepts of "spin" and "dodge,” but were much more likely to click “spin” via the app than “dodge.”
The sample was made up of 56 percent Democrats and 27 percent Republicans. It was also shown that independents had a slight preference for Obama. Romney won among undecided voters.
When it comes to gender, men more frequently gave responses. And with regard to race, Caucasians had the strongest preference for Romney compared to other groups.
It was calculated that 3,767 students reacted via the app at least once during the debate. The students who participated attend nearly 100 U.S. schools/colleges.
The real-time polling app used in the study was developed by researchers at the University of California, Davis, the University of Maryland, and the University of Arkansas, Little Rock.
“Most polling is done after a debate occurs,” Amber Boydstun, assistant professor of political science at UC Davis and co-developer of the app, explained in an earlier statement. “There is very little data in the political science world that deals with real-time reaction, and this will help us get that information.”
On Thursday, she added in an e-mail to TechZone360 that the use of the app, and number of students taking part, was “very exciting.”
Use of the app will continue throughout the three scheduled 2012 presidential debates, as well as the upcoming vice presidential debate.
The app works via button taps to register agreement or disagreement with candidates’ arguments.
Students were also asked pre- and post-survey questions to collect demographic information and measure changes in attitudes toward the candidates.
The app may have a bright future in other sectors besides politics. For example, the app could be used to get instant reaction many kinds of live events.
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