Wednesday, October 15, 2008

They hate Obama, but they are still voting for him anyway

I found this Politico's Ben Smith story through both The Washington Monthly and Americablog, and it is just fascinating. Smith got an email from a Republican consultant, who "conducted a focus group in an upper-Midwestern state," showing this group a number of "no-holds-barred attack" ads that have yet to air.

And this is what the Republican consultant emailed Smith about the results from this focus group:

Reagan Dems and Independents. Call them blue-collar plus. Slightly more Target than Walmart.

Yes, the spot worked. Yes, they believed the charges against Obama. Yes, they actually think he's too liberal, consorts with bad people and WON'T BE A GOOD PRESIDENT...but they STILL don't give a f***. They said right out, "He won't do anything better than McCain" but they're STILL voting for Obama.

The two most unreal moments of my professional life of watching focus groups:

54 year-old white male, voted Kerry '04, Bush '00, Dole '96, hunter, NASCAR fan...hard for Obama said: "I'm gonna hate him the minute I vote for him. He's gonna be a bad president. But I won't ever vote for another god-damn Republican. I want the government to take over all of Wall Street and bankers and the car companies and Wal-Mart run this county like we used to when Reagan was President."

The next was a woman, late 50s, Democrat but strongly pro-life. Loved B. and H. Clinton, loved Bush in 2000. "Well, I don't know much about this terrorist group Barack used to be in with that Weather guy but I'm sick of paying for health insurance at work and that's why I'm supporting Barack."

I felt like I was taking crazy pills. I sat on the other side of the glass and realized...this really is the Apocalypse. The Seventh Seal is broken and its time for eight years of pure, delicious crazy....

What happened? It is like the Republican Party turned away from these average, Reagan Democrats and Independent voters, and stomped them hard into the ground. These voters are angry at the GOP for failing to regulate the housing bubble and subprime mortgage mess, and then are angry for the government to use their taxpayer dollars to bail out Wall Street from this financial mess. These voters are angry at paying huge health care premiums for little care. I would even say that these voters are angry at the huge tax cuts that are going to the rich, the tax breaks going to big oil and big corporations, while energy, gas prices, and food prices soar. These voters may also be angry at the deteriorating job market, the huge debt that the government has incurred, and the continuing disaster that is the U.S. war in Iraq. The CBS News / New York Times poll reports that 89 percent of Americans believe that the country is on the wrong track, with only 7 percent of Americans believing the country is on the right track. These voters are angry at the Republican Party for sending the country into this disastrous direction. They are angry at President George W. Bush, giving him an over two-thirds job disapproval rating. But President Bush is on his way out in January, 2009. The only way that these voters can send a message to the GOP is to vote Barack Obama into the White House--even if these Reagan Democrats and Independents completely hate Obama. If you want to change the direction of the country, then change the man in the White House. That is what the focus group is telling this Republican consultant. And if this focus group is representative of all the Reagan Democrats and Independents, then John McCain may find it impossible to be elected into the third Bush term.

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