In the Arena

Focused–The Sequel

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Another week, another Frank Luntz/AARP focus group of undecided voters–this one in Minneapolis and with some bad news for John McCain: they don’t like the choice of Sarah Palin for vice president. Only one person said Palin made him more likely to vote for McCain; about half the 25-member group raised their hands when asked if Palin made them less likely to vote for McCain. They had a negative impression of Palin by a 2-1 margin…a fact that was reinforced when they were given hand-dials and asked to react to Palin’s speech at her first appearance with McCain on Friday—the dials remained totally neutral as Palin went through her heart-warming(?) biography, and only blipped upwards when she said she opposed the Bridge to Nowhere–which wasn’t quite the truth, as we now know.

Then there was this, from a woman named Teresa, who went to the Democratic Convention as a Hillary delegate and is leaning toward voting for McCain–obviously the target audience for the Palin pick: “His age didn’t really bother me until he picked Palin. What if he dies in office and leaves us with her as President? Also she leans toward the rigid right, and I always thought he was a moderate…You know, I change my mind almost every day, but right now I”m wondering where the John McCain I really liked in 2000 went, what happened to the moderate? This John McCain has the look of someone who is being manipulated–probably by Karl Rove.”

Teresa still wasn’t willing to vote for Obama, whom she considers too inexperienced, but she was clearly wavering. Afterwards Luntz, good Republican that he is, made the case that Palin could win all these people back with a good convention speech, but that seemed far-fetched to me. They really saw this pick as a gimmick–and one that reflected badly on John McCain’s judgment.