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Maxwell School and Newhouse School

SU Institute Launches Focus Group Project to Gain Insights on Key Voting Blocs in 2024 Campaign

February 2, 2024

SU News

Syracuse University’s Institute for Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship (IDJC) is launching The Deciders Focus Groups project, a partnership initiative looking to gain insights from key voting blocs in 2024 presidential election battleground states.

NBC News plans to report findings each month, giving IDJC faculty and researchers potential opportunities to discuss or analyze results on the network’s platforms.

Working with partners Engagious, which will conduct the focus groups, and Sago, which recruits respondents, IDJC is developing questions for the monthly online panels with key voting blocs within each state. The first focus group panel was conducted Jan. 31 via Zoom and moderated by Engagious president Rich Thau. This initial installment focused on women voters from across Pennsylvania who previously backed Donald Trump but support abortion rights or oppose the 2022 landmark Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

The Institute for Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship is a joint University initiative of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Based in Washington, D.C., IDJC engages in nonpartisan research, teaching and public dialogue aimed at strengthening trust in news media, governance and society.

“As a top research university whose communications and public affairs schools are among the best in the country, Syracuse University is obligated to promote engaged citizenship and deliberative democracy for the sake of our students as well as our society,” says Vice Chancellor, Provost and Chief Academic Officer Gretchen Ritter.

“The work of IDJC helps elevate those efforts and provides insights into some of the most important elements of our democracy, including the role of a free press,” Provost Ritter says.

The hinge voters who are the focus of the 2024 Deciders project come from demographic groups that will likely play an outsized role in determining the outcome of the election. A different category of voters will be interviewed each month.

“This partnership will shed light on issues and factors impacting key groups of voters and how news consumption helps form their views,” Newhouse School Dean Mark J. Lodato says. “For our students, this project can provide a valuable learning experience into how voters respond to political reporting, helping our aspiring journalists discern how such reporting takes shape.”

“A critical part of solving the challenges we face as a nation begins with a foundation of understanding,” says Maxwell School Dean David M. Van Slyke. “This partnership builds that foundation by helping our researchers, students and the public at large better understand the people who may determine the 2024 election. This is exactly the sort of critical, policy-informing work that we envisioned when creating IDJC.”

The work of the Institute for Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship, which was established in 2022, spans elections, governance and media, as well as a host of other broad topics including technology, business, science and health.

“We are learning from participants how key issues in the news affect them personally and how that relates to their views toward candidates and voting,” says IDJC Kramer Director Margaret Talev.  “We also are interested to hear from them about where they get their news and information and how that relates to what they believe, who they trust and how they engage with society.”

By Genaro Armas


Communications and Media Relations Office
500 Maxwell Hall