Letters to the President #1086: 'Dial testing in South Carolina'

January 10, 2012; CNN.com

Reporter's Note: The Republican candidates are wrapping up in New Hampshire and steaming toward South Carolina, which is where I am waiting and writing today’s letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

I am in the lovely city of Charleston, South Carolina, awaiting the results from the New Hampshire primary. It has been a nice day here that steadily sped up as the hours passed. Now we are closing in on the first returns and everything is buzzing.

I’m here for what we call a “dial test” group. That means pretty soon about 40 undecided Republican voters will join me here at our workspace at the College of Charleston. (And here is an aside; this is a beautiful school! The way it weaves through the old town, filling the streets, shops and restaurants with students; wonderful! I can easily see why so many kids are attracted here. But I digress…) These voters are going to watch the returns and the candidates’ speeches afterward with me (note to self: get chips!), and throughout the process they will have these remote control dialers in their hands. Each time they hear something they like, they will twist the nobs on the dialers up to show how they feel…and they’ll turn them down if they don’t like what they hear.

A team from Southern Methodist University will be monitoring the computers which will turn those dial turns into a display that will makes sense to the rest of us; i.e. a line on the TV screen that will rise and fall as the candidate speaks.

I’ve done this several times before and it is always interesting. There is something inherently fascinating instantly seeing what people think of someone or some idea, second to second.

Will it tell us who is going to win here when the South Carolina primary rolls around? No. Or at least we can’t bet on it. But it should give us some indication of which emotional and intellectual triggers the candidates will have to press to have a chance of winning.

Like I said, it is interesting to watch, and I’m sure you will be. When it is all over for the night, I will have a bit more work to do, but if you want to call afterward I’ll give you more details about what I heard and saw. You can tell me about what your pals in the White House thought of the NH results. What fun!


News Room

News Archive 2014

News Archive 2013

News Archive 2012

2 Professors Are Brains Behind CNN

Seven Things Happening Today

80 Years Later

9/11 Reshaped Lives of Muslims

Allan Sloan on Marketplace

American Cynicism on Rise

American Dream Shattered

Annual Conference of the Professions

Art Blog of Sandie

BART Controversy Centers on Social Media

BART Social Media Crackdown Uncharted Legal Territory

Bauer incentive Scholarship

Campaign Hits Ground

Campaign 2012: SMU Experts Weigh In

Commemorating Nine Eleven

Council Fields Trip to SMU

Dallas Council to Attend Ethics Class

Dallas Council to Attend Ethics Conference

Dallas Fort Worth 9/11 Events

Dallas Mayor Discusses Education

Dallas Philanthropist Dies

Dallas City Officials Say Party Funds Sought Inappropriately

Dennis Simon speaks on civil rights movements 50th anniversary

DFW International Community Alliance

Distinguished Professor Dennis Simon Pressents "Politics of Memory and Legacy of Civil Rights" on Oct. 1

Eagle Scholars First in Families

Earning Trust Demand for Ethics Leadership

'E-Democracy' the new 'grassroots'

Engaged Learning

Ethical Leadership in Government

Ethics of Financial Transparency

Ethics Trust & Transparency Conference

Frito Lay Plano Library Possibility

Frito Lay Plano Library Possibility

Future of Education KERA

Giveing perspective to the GOP Convention in Tampa Bay

GOP debates get physical

Gov Perry Hits Pres Campiagn Trail

Humann Recieves Reward

Humann Recognized

Is it Okay for Women to Curse at Work

Letters to the President

KERA Future of Education

Kimberly Clark Wins Ethics Award

Komen Reverses Cut to Planned Parenthood

KRLD Interviews Two SMU Professors About Their Dial Testing Technology

Leadership in Government Ethics

Legacies of September 11th

Legacies of September 11th D-Mag

Dial Testing in South Carolina

Looking back and ahead

Maguire Center Helps Students

Marin of Error: Two Candidates, Two Journeys, One lost race of dreams

Medallion Awards: Rita Kirk

Muslims Fight for Acceptance

Mustangs Jump into DNC Politics

September 11 Memorial Events at SMU

Oil Comapny and Houston settle 20 years of wrangling

In online journal, SMU students share memories of 9/11

9/11 Blog- Dallas Morning News

Panel Discusses Civil Liberites

Pegasus News: 9/11 Week

PolicyPulse Tests

Practical Advice from Commuication Experts

Prosecution of Top Government Offiicals for Torture

In Public and Private Forth Worth Residents Remember 9/11

Rais Bhuiyan of Dallas speaks message of forgiveness

Report on SMU Ethics Program

Report back: Yoo v. Pitts debate in Dallas

Responsible Business Leadership

Ryan's speech gives undecided voters mild nudge towards Romney

Share your 9/11 Story

SMU conference examines natinoal security and civil liberites

SMU Experts, organizations teach an electoral college 2012

SMU experts discuss Rick Perry's 2012 presidential run

SMU Experts: Rick Perry's quest for the presidency

SMU Eyes Bright Future

SMU's Home Opener on 9/11 to Feature Patriotic Theme, Special Military Tribute

SMU to honor tenth anniversary of 9/11

SMU honors 9/11 with thought provoking events

SMU honors distinguished alumni and emerging leader

SMU honors 9/11 with thought provoking events- SMU Website

SMU Hosts Luncheon Honoring Millitary Veterans

To Mark September 11 Anniversary, SMU Launches Website

SMU 9/11 Journal Helps Students Cope a Decade Later

SMU, Park Cities, Remember, Honor 9/11

SMU Student Honors 9/11 Victim Father

SMU Student Remembers Dad Who Died in 9/11

Brave New World: SMU to examine social media ethics in law, medicine, and religion

Christina Rancke

Strong Ethics Must Start at the Top

Student honors, volunteers in memory of her father

Tables of Content Tables Host- Rita Kirk

The Big Short Discussion Continues

Theology of Terorism Discussed

The Trust Barometer

To commemorate the 10th annivarsary of 9/11, SMU hosted a range of public events

Sepember 11th Anniversary Website- Dallas Observer

Across the Nation, Tragedy Spawned Inspiration

Turner reflects on September 11, 2001

University Ceremony Remembers Victims

Using Social Media to Tell Sandy's Story

SMU Voter Rally to be Part of SMU's Constitution Day 2012

On 9/11 Vows of Rememberance

Walt Humann to Recieve SMU Award

Website Raises Awarness

Wat connects with political convention viewers

Robin Lovin: what went wrong? 9/11

What Went Wong? PBS

News Archive 2011

Ethics Blog

© Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas | Legal Disclosures | A-Z Site Index | Contact SMU