Each individual in our group is analyzing a specific election and using our own methods for spatial history, data mining and analysis, textual analysis, and visual and aural artifacts. This is because we are each covering unique elections in which the technology available varied significantly from the 1960s until modern times.
I plan to use data mining and analysis to construct my argument of the correlation between debates and outcome of the election in determining the winner. This includes statistical analysis of polling data before and after debates, along with graphs to support data. For visual artifacts, I will use videos from research organizations that were done on the same topic with more in-depth and conclusive research to help support our argument. Some of our aural artifacts will be YouTube clips of voters’ responses. There are also interactive maps from one of CNN’s own John King segments, but I’m not sure if I would be able to embed a working map into our website. These maps will be used to show turning points in the election before and after debates as a result of voter response to candidates. I will use textual analysis through newspaper articles from various prominent sources such as The New York Times and Huffington Post. We will also analyze debate transcripts through Wordle to see what words were frequently used, which might tell us what the important issues were for voters during the election.
To show important aspects of the 1992 presidential debates, and how they affect voting tendencies, I plan on using several methods to fulfill the requirements related to the assignment. Visual artifacts will be used, using images of each of the debates and images of particular moments that affected the viewers. Examples would be Bush’s infamous time check, Clinton becoming close and personal with his audience in a town hall debate format, and the layout of each debate. As this is visual, the aural aspect will be similar. I will embed videos that show important times of the debates, such as Perot’s humorous one liners that grabbed national attention, and attacks by Bush and Clinton on each other.These images and moments are iconic of the 92 debate and surely affected voters. I will show how this affected voters by using statistical numbers collected by CNN which polled voters after each debate and asked who they thought won each debate. This data will be used to create a graph of each, which is an analyzing tool. I have examined the transcripts of the first debate and inserted it into wordle, a means of textual analysis, wordle can show us what important themes were present for the debates. These themes are important because they relate to the viewers and a correlation can be made from the individual words and phrases used by each candidate and how it affected voters opinions. Certain words such as “money”, “economy”, and “country” are important to the public, especially since going into the ‘92 debate the economy was in the doldrums. This background info has helped me understand why Perot was such a contender because of his sharp business record. Interviews directly following each debate with random undecided voters gives an important insight into their opinions of the debate. I am using PBS interviews with people that are undecided, there are teachers, college students and manufacture workers that share their feelings towards each debate. As i analyze these interviews i can create an argument that tells an important story as to what issues touches them, and how it will affect their voting tendencies. Candidates who empathize job creation will certainly grab the attention of jobless voters (such as Clinton attacking Bush for the jobless rate at the time). Voters who are more concerned with the economic condition of our country will be intrigued by what Perot has to say because it was the underlying theme of his campaign. These are all aspects that influence voters on election day. Using these interview transcripts are an example of textual analysis.
Seeing as the debates of 1960 were the very first Presidential Debates ever to be televised, the general opinions and reactions of voters were extremely varied and possibly naive due to the initial shock of actually being able to see the candidates argue one on one. The visual nature of these debates played a massive role in the representation and coverage of each candidate throughout the media, and more importantly, in the eyes of the voters. Within my analysis of these debates I will focus largely on visual components to supplement my argument, such as actual footage of the debates, what pictures were printed in the newspapers of the time, and video/photographs taken on each campaign trail. The method of what is now modern campaigning, a process highly reliant on striking visual rhetoric, was born in the broadcast of the 1960 debates and I plan on bringing that spirit into my work.
The platforms for which voters could publicly voice their opinions regarding their perspective on the Presidential Debates of 1960 were very limited compared to those of 2012, and 1992 to a lesser degree. National polls, television interviews, newspaper editorials and letters will be my main source of primary textual evidence of the voters opinions. I am exploring the potential of Wordle in bringing some of the key themes to the surface, however, I am interested in finding a software in which I can find more complex strings or phrases within the testimonials of voters. As the primary voter opinion in 1960 is not as prevalent for examination compared to that of the other elections our group is studying, I will need to take the information I do have and apply different methods of analysis so as to extract the core of each message.