Over the course of several weeks, three students, Luke Carey, Mark Perry, and Nicholas Ravotti, collaborated on a series of podcasts to cover the events and topics discussed in the 2012 Presidential debates. The podcast series, a total of 4 episodes (one for each of the three presidential debates, and a fourth on the vice-presidential debate) offered predictions, analysis, and summary of the issues covered in the debates. In addition to this action component of the project, both Mark and Luke wrote and researched several papers on different topics pertaining to the debates. The topics covered in these research papers include polarization in American politics, issue framing and rhetoric in debates, and the psychological aspects of politics and debates.
The research conducted for this project was cross-disciplinary, taking a political-science and historically oriented approach, as well as a more political-psychology approach. Both disciplines were useful in that they accentuated aspects of what we had seen while watching the debates, as well as following the process on our own. The historical research was designed to follow the progression of party politics, and how the platforms we associate with the two major parties have changed over time. Research was also conducted on rhetoric and framing, and the influence these techniques have, or do not have, over voters. Also explored were the psychological tools, such as campaign ads, employed by politicians during campaigns in order to secure votes amongst populations that were undecided on Election Day. The research also touched on the effectiveness of these tools among different age groups.