College students across the country take part in a pilot test of the new app.
More than 175 political science professors nationwide have registered some 12,000 students to field test the real-time polling app when President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney square off in their first debate.
"Most polling is done after a debate occurs," said Amber Boydstun, a political science professor at the University of California, Davis, and co-developer of the app called React Labs: Educate.
"There is very little data in the political science world that deals with real-time reaction, and this will help us get that information."
Boydstun developed the app with colleagues from the University of Maryland and the University of Arkansas, Little Rock.
Along with at least six other universities around the country, UC Davis was to hold a debate-watch event for app testers Wednesday.
The app, released to students in a limited quantity for the first debate, will allow debate viewers who sign in on their phones or computers and then use button taps to register agreement or disagreement with candidates' arguments.
The app hopefully will help engage the Facebook generation in politics, Boydstun said in a UC Davis release Tuesday.