Presidential Campaigns 2012 – Debate Flow Assignment

The Debate Flow Assignment has three distinct components: A content flow, an analysis, and a determination.

Content Flow:

Using some version of variation of the debate flow template, create a content summary of the responses from each of the two candidates. You should abbreviate, use only key words, and paraphrase when need be to capture the essence of the responses. These are not intended to be verbatim transcripts of the debate. Instead, the information you record should be what YOU think is the substance of the candidate’s statements. Remember that each question is typically directed to one candidate. The other is given an opportunity to respond. Again, typically the original speaker is given a chance for a short rebuttal. Sometimes, the other candidate is allowed a follow up to that rebuttal.

The content is organized around the moderator’s questions. Every time a NEW question is asked, that should mark the end of one content topic and the beginning of a new content topic. Your debate flow should reflect this organization. A lot of ground is typically covered in a Presidential Debate so don’t OVER record the content but capture enough so that you can meaningfully comment on what was said and argued. Keep in mind that candidates often go back to previous topics, insert their own topical shifts, and speak off topic based on the moderator’s questions. When that happens (and it will) that should be reflected in your debate flow.


Your analysis of the debate should include the following commentary:

The quality of the candidates’ arguments: coherent claims, appropriate evidence, sound reasoning, absence of fallacy, topicality of statements, specificity of assertions

The quality of the candidates’ delivery: clarity, use of language, use of humor if any, non-verbal communication, tone, demeanor, confidence

The presence of specific strategies: 1-development of an overall theme; 2-image cultivation; 3-opponent accountability for failures/record/actions; 4-counter the opponent’s portrayal; 5-punch and counter punch; 6-control the narrative of the debate; 7-create news/sound bites


Based on your analysis, make a determination of which candidate used the debate to advance his campaign more successfully.

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