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Framing Public Discussion of Gay Civil Unions
Unformatted Document Text:  Framing Public Discussion 11 A set of baseline surveys in February and March 2000 (N = 1684) assessed participants’ opinions, communication behaviors, knowledge of public affairs and of the presidential candidates, and a variety of demographic, personality, and background variables. Respondents were randomly assigned to one of three groups. Those in the discussion group (N = 915) were invited to attend eight online group deliberations, roughly once a month, beginning in April and continuing through December. Topics of discussion included which issues respondents thought were of importance to the country, which ought to be the focus of attention in the campaign; specific issues and policy proposals (e.g., in areas of education, crime and public safety, taxes, and foreign affairs), characteristics of the candidates; campaign advertising; and the role of the media. Members of the discussions group, regardless of whether they attended discussions or not, were also asked to complete a series of surveys, one preceding and one following each deliberation event. Participants assigned to the survey-only control group (N = 150) were also asked to complete all the surveys, although they were not invited to attend any online deliberations. The balance of participants (N = 915) were assigned to a project pre/post only condition: They were asked to complete only the baseline surveys and, one year later, the final end-of-project surveys. These end-of-project surveys, conducted in January and February 2001, were sent to all three groups of project participants. Details of the design are presented in the Appendix. Design and Procedure The present analysis focuses only on the seventh discussion event, held from October 30 through November 5, 2000, days before the election. In addition to other topics relevant to the campaign, participants in these November discussions debated whether partnerships of same-sex couples should be legally recognized as marriages. These debates ran roughly 10-11 minutes,

Authors: Price, Vincent., Nir, Lilach. and Cappella, Joseph.
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Framing Public Discussion
11
A set of baseline surveys in February and March 2000 (N = 1684) assessed participants’
opinions, communication behaviors, knowledge of public affairs and of the presidential
candidates, and a variety of demographic, personality, and background variables. Respondents
were randomly assigned to one of three groups. Those in the discussion group (N = 915) were
invited to attend eight online group deliberations, roughly once a month, beginning in April and
continuing through December. Topics of discussion included which issues respondents thought
were of importance to the country, which ought to be the focus of attention in the campaign;
specific issues and policy proposals (e.g., in areas of education, crime and public safety, taxes,
and foreign affairs), characteristics of the candidates; campaign advertising; and the role of the
media. Members of the discussions group, regardless of whether they attended discussions or
not, were also asked to complete a series of surveys, one preceding and one following each
deliberation event. Participants assigned to the survey-only control group (N = 150) were also
asked to complete all the surveys, although they were not invited to attend any online
deliberations. The balance of participants (N = 915) were assigned to a project pre/post only
condition: They were asked to complete only the baseline surveys and, one year later, the final
end-of-project surveys. These end-of-project surveys, conducted in January and February 2001,
were sent to all three groups of project participants. Details of the design are presented in the
Appendix.
Design and Procedure
The present analysis focuses only on the seventh discussion event, held from October 30
through November 5, 2000, days before the election. In addition to other topics relevant to the
campaign, participants in these November discussions debated whether partnerships of same-sex
couples should be legally recognized as marriages. These debates ran roughly 10-11 minutes,


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