Resurgent Republic sponsored two focus groups in Cleveland, Ohio among blue-collar voters who supported Barack Obama in 2008 and are not strongly affiliated with either candidate today. Conducted by The Tarrance Group, the respondents did not have a college degree and a majority had household incomes less than $60k. The focus groups were split by gender.
By definition, these are some of the most difficult voters for Governor Romney to win this November. They are being asked to admit their vote decision in 2008 was a mistake, and many were not yet ready to take this step. Yet this demographic group remains closely contested because they are still willing to consider Governor Romney as an alternative with five weeks remaining to Election Day. The following are key highlights from our focus groups:
Yet health care reform is not a message President Obama can use to win undecided blue-collar voters in Ohio. As one woman noted, "I haven't talked to anybody who said their health insurance has gotten better." The details of the law have largely faded from memory, but their concern over the rising cost of health care has not. There's a general belief that the law will result in higher health care costs, or at least not bend the cost curve down, and an understanding that businesses will be reluctant to hire full-time workers due to the cost of benefits.
The nonstop cycle of political advertisements has limited somewhat their recall of specific messages. In terms of memorable events, both groups were familiar with Governor Romney's 47 percent remark, which aired the week prior. There were markedly different reactions between the men and women to this quote. The women found the statement offensive and noted that teachers and the elderly fall into this group. Many also identified themselves with the 47 percent whether they pay federal income taxes or not. When asked what they'd like to hear from Governor Romney during the debates, they want him to talk about how he would represent all Americans. In contrast, several of the men admitted that this was a thought they had before, and while it was poorly worded, they were not as troubled by Romney's statement.
"I just don't know enough about Romney to want to not stay the course on the plan we are on now," said a blue-collar man. Any reluctance to support Governor Romney is due in large part to a desire for more information regarding his policy proposals, so these voters remain open to being convinced and believe the presidential debates will allow them to fairly size up both of the candidates. If Romney closes strong and articulates a clear vision for improving our national economy, many of these voters would be willing to vote for him.
All voters in these two focus groups supported President Obama in 2008 and are not strongly affiliated with either candidate today.
September 26, 2012
Groups separated by gender
Conducted by The Tarrance Group