Through an online post-debate questionnaire, DebateWatch staffers collected viewer response on the September 30 presidential debate from 9,020 citizens in approximately 400 discussion groups throughout 40 states nationwide. Citizens convened in their communities to watch the debates, turn off the television before the post-debate commentary, and discuss what they learned. Group leaders summarized the DebateWatch discussions online after the events.
Preliminary data show that participants reported that Iraq and the war on terror was the most important issue (44%) addressed in the debate. Nuclear proliferation was second (17%); North Korea was third (13%); and homeland security was the fourth most important issue (9%) addressed during the debate.
Although the first presidential debate focused on foreign policy and homeland security, DebateWatch participants had the opportunity to suggest topics for the remaining debates. Those suggestions included: jobs and the economy (27%), national security (20%), health and healthcare (16%), education (12%), and the environment (4%).
Three more debates will be held before the election. They will be carried live on most major networks.
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