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August 25, 2008

Frank Lutz Focus Group of Undecideds: Obama Must Change Message or Lose Swing Voter

Interesting.

Oddly, though, of the 21 undecideds quizzed, 12 had voted for Bush in 2004. Prudence would have suggested a 50/50 split.

[A]nother disturbing element for Mr Obama was how sceptical and even dismissive most of the group was about the word that has been central to his campaign - change. Some voters believed Mr Obama could not relate to them and did not share their everyday concerns.

"Stop giving me all these general things," said Doug, 48, a fireman. "I want specifics, not pie in the sky. There were nods around the room. "He has to put some substance behind the charismatic talk," interjected another man.

A woman in her 60s said: "I want less oratory; show me what you have done and what you are going to do." Sondra, 43, a catering manager, said: "Change for change's sake got us in this mess. We want change but we're afraid of what it might bring."

Asked to address Mr Obama directly, the voters said: "How are you going to get it done?"; "Prove you have experience."; "How will you fix things?"; "Stop the dramatic talk, we want reality."; "Focus on issues, not personality."; "Don't just give me an empty balloon."

Most of the undecided voters said they wanted "accountability" rather than change. From a long list of election concerns, 17 highlighted a top theme of Mr McCain's: "Ending wasteful Washington spending and balancing the federal budget."

The next most important concern was "reducing inflation and keeping costs down", with ten votes while "Ending American dependence on foreign oil" and "bringing accountability and honesty back to the government" got nine.

Some favourite concerns of Democrats were virtually ignored. "Holding President Bush accountable for all his mistakes and failures" got two votes and "Improving our global image and public support internationally" just one - another indication that Mr Obama's recent foreign trip and speech in Berlin were mistakes.

Using electronic dials to register their second-by-second reactions, the voters were shown television advertisements from each candidate. Again, the results were encouraging for Mr McCain.

Although most of the 21 said they did not like the concept behind Mr McCain's notorious "Celebrity" ad, which compared the Democrat with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears - one said "crap", another "ridiculous" - a dozen conceded it made Mr Obama look bad.

The Obama ad that attacked Mr McCain for having seven houses and not being able to recall the number fell flat. But Mr McCain's response ad that highlighted a land deal Mr Obama had struck with Tony Rezko, a real estate dealer subsequently convicted of corruption, prompted more than half the dials to shoot up.

A couple of the voters suggested that Americans did not resent wealth. "I really don't care how many houses you have but it does matter how you got that house," said Doug.

Byron York also digests the focus groups' findings.


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posted by Ace at 05:12 PM

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