Worth Discussing

Resurgent Republic’s focus groups: Keep the spotlight on jobs

Jennifer Rubin | Washington Post | July 10, 2011

Resurgent Republic, the conservative polling and advocacy group, released on Friday results from focus group sessions in four swing states (Florida, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Virginia). In a memo, the group summarized its results:

The respondents were unanimous in their overwhelmingly negative descriptions of the economy, and, unlike our focus groups a year ago, these voters could not see an end to the nation’s economic decline. The voting cohorts differed on whom they hold responsible for the economy. The Independents did not hold President Obama primarily responsible for the current state of the economy, although many found fault with his spending policies and raised questions about his leadership on the economy. The Hispanic voters were more likely to say President Obama made the economy worse, joining Republicans and Tea Party voters. Surprisingly, there was little knowledge among these voters regarding the current debate over Medicare. The debate over increasing the debt ceiling solicited passionate responses among all groups and galvanized opinions of President Obama’s job performance.

The findings, of course, predated the dreadful jobs data released Friday. So one might expect the results would be even worse for Obama now. But frankly, there were plenty of red flags for the Democrats even before the latest raft of rotten news on unemployment.

The focus groups included a mix of Independents, Republicans, Hispanics and Tea Partyers. The most interesting and informative finding concerned Independents:

The Independents and Hispanic voters we talked to believe President Obama has the interests of the middle class at heart and understands their problems. . . . Independents who voted for President Obama and still somewhat approve of his job performance — Obama’s last line of electoral defense — did not specifically hold President Obama or his policies responsible for the current state of the economy. . . . Participants believe President Obama has made the national debt worse and view the economic stimulus spending as Exhibit A. . . . , Obamacare seems just as complicated and bureaucratic as it was to them during the peak of the national debate. Yet the intensity on this issue has decreased among these Independents, with their attention predominantly on the economy.


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