Bell Ringers
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By sunshinecavalluzzi
On October 18, 2018

Bell Ringer: Focus Groups

Focus Groups Versus Polling - "What We're Looking for is Qualitative"

Pollster Peter Hart discusses the process of conducting focus groups, in the context of a session with undecided Virginia voters ahead of the 2012 election, and differentiates the focus group process from a standard campaign poll.


A focus group is a collection of individuals with some commonality brought together to provide in-depth, qualitative feedback about a particular topic under the guidance of a moderator. Focus groups are commonly used in political campaigns by both candidates and the media to help discern voter viewpoints.

Bell Ringer Assignment

  • What, according to Peter Hart, are some of the primary differences between the information sought from a poll and the information sought from a focus group?
  • How did Peter Hart introduce the focus group process to undecided Virginia voters?
  • About what percentage of voters were undecided at the point when the Virginia focus group was conducted? What was cited as a primary reason for their indecision?
  • AP Government - Questions to Consider: Which role conception of Congressmembers (trustee, delegate, politico) would most closely align with a reliance on focus groups? How might focus group data be impacted by the scorekeeper function/horerace tendencies of the media? How would candidate-centered elections influence focus group results? Why might the Annenberg Center for Public Policy/University of Pennsylvania have chosen voters from the particular states mentioned in the second video clip to question for their focus groups?

Additional Resource



    • Campaigns
    • Focus Groups
    • Polling
    • Pollster
    • Undecided Voters


    AP U.S. Government Key TermsCampaigns & ElectionsPolitical Parties


    Middle SchoolHigh School