Earlier this week, 10 women from around the country met on Zoom and spoke for two hours as part of a focus group on politics. The women were all white, lived in the suburbs, and identified as swing voters. One is a mother from Iowa who owns a small business. Another teaches special education in Florida. And there was a school bus driver from Pennsylvania.
The session was sponsored by a number of freelance groups, who invited us to watch but asked us not to identify the participants or the organization. They cited the need to protect the privacy of the participants and separate the focus group’s views from that of the sponsoring organisations.
The first women answered a question about how things were going in the country. The most optimistic answer might be “not sure.” Others shared that they were “anxious,” “anxious,” “disappointed,” and “irritated.”
The teacher from Florida talked about struggling to cover the medical bills for her cancer treatment. “I thought I was ahead but I kept falling behind,” she said. Someone recently broke up with her spouse about how to take Covid seriously. One spends all day every weekend doing her odd job, so she can save money on gas.
“It was the worst time,” said an education consultant in Pennsylvania. “I can’t believe we’re living through this.”
This gathering of 10 women is a grain of sand on the beach that is an American constituency. But they open a door to widespread gloom that helps explain why some voters doubt the Biden administration can deliver on its promise to restore their lives to normal. These women are consumed by problems the federal government says it is trying to solve, but they seem to believe that the government lacks the power to solve them.
Focus groups are just one data point in the process of preparing for an election. A professional mediator guides the group’s discussion, with the goal of revealing points of view that are often not captured in a poll, which is a much faster-paced and scripted interaction.
Focus groups can provide anecdotes to explain voting trends, and organizers tend to group voters according to their demographics. This focus group organizer is conducting sessions with multiple demographic groups; The meeting we were invited to this week happened to focus on the perspective of white women. Participants were identified as swing voters because they had expressed doubts about their past ballots – some women voted for Donald Trump, while others voted. for President Biden.
Democrats need support from suburban women if they want to keep their House and Senate majority in November. Women in the focus group don’t necessarily dislike Biden. They support infrastructure legislation and oppose measures that restrict voting access. They applauded Biden for his hot mic moment — the moment when he mumbled a disparaging word about a Fox News reporter. They don’t like Trump, and they loathe those who attacked the Capitol on January 6.
Despite all of that, they’re not eager to vote Democrats in the November midterm elections.
“I can’t really hold out hope for 2022,” said a woman from Tennessee who works for a professional wrestling company. “So they don’t give me any kind of ambition to feel like I have any confidence in the government to fix things or at least get the ball on track.”
Looking ahead to the 2022 US midterm elections
Democrats know they need to campaign on their merits to maintain their diversity. Biden himself has suggested that he needs to do a better job than telling voters what his administration and congressional Democrats have done. However, as these women have made clear, just talking to voters is not enough. Democrats also need to make sure that voters feel the effects of their efforts, too.
“It is absolutely essential that on Election Day these suburban women are looking at Washington and seeing it as a place where the job can be done,” said Meredith Kelly, a Democratic strategist. Kelly, a Democratic strategist.
Learn ‘how to play in the sandbox’
The women in the focus group did not know that the moderator leading the discussion was a Democrat or that the donors were liberal organizations. All they know before logging in is that they will be observed, even though they don’t know by whom. Some of them declined to answer some of the questions, saying they didn’t have enough information to form an opinion. And some of them said they often avoid talking about politics.
When asked how they see their role in the midterm elections, they laughed. “Blood-suckers,” replied an Arizona mother. One woman in Utah joked: “We are an automatic laugh reel.
They see Washington as more of a playground than a place to solve problems.
“At the end of the day, you need to learn to play in the sandbox together,” says one interior designer from Georgia, lamenting the bickering politicians.
When it comes to infrastructure legislation, some women agree that Democrats have included unnecessary items that have nothing to do with roads or bridges. But they also think that Republicans should vote to pass it anyway.
“We need it, so whatever gets pushed in there at this point, take it,” the Georgia woman said.
They generally agree that Biden stands out from other politicians because of “empathy”. But even if they believe Biden wants to make a difference, they don’t think he’s an exception to the rule. They seem to doubt that any politician can solve the country’s biggest problems.
The women expressed that corporations and the richest Americans hold the most power, not politicians. But they don’t think the government can do anything to get corporations to pay them fairly – these companies always find loopholes, they argue.
After two hours of venting their frustrations, they ended their conversation with the outrage of the rioters who stormed the Capitol.
“How did we let it get so bad?” woman in Utah asked.
With that, the moderator told them their time was up. She asks them to re-enter their final thoughts before they log out. One person immediately left the call, while the others took a while to say goodbye. The Florida teacher, who spoke about battling cancer, was the last to sign.
“Thank you,” she told the operator. “I got a lot out of it.”
What to read tonight?
the guy before
Remember those old ads where a giant, smiling Kool-Aid pitcher interrupts a baseball game or a wedding, dashes over a wall to share the fun with a sugary drink?
From a founding Republican standpoint, the role of Kool-Aid Man is played this week by the former president, who has collapsed the proverbial party in two states: Georgia and New Hampshire.
In Georgia, Trump cut his first live advertisement for one candidate, David Perdue. At Trump’s urging, the former senator is challenging Brian Kemp, the incumbent governor, in the upcoming Republican primaries.
“The Democrats have supported Brian Kemp,” Trump said in the ad. “Brian Kemp has let us down. We cannot let it happen again.”
It was a reference to Trump’s false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him in Georgia, and another way to express his anger that Kemp refused to go along with it. his attempt to overturn the vote. The district attorney in the Fulton County of Georgia is Trump investigation for seeking to improperly influence the outcome of that election.
“While President Trump has brought back jobs from abroad, David Perdue has built careers for them in China, Mexico and other countries,” Cody Hall, a spokesman for the Kemp campaign, said of the ad. . “It’s not America First – it’s David Perdue putting his own wallet on the backs of hardworking Americans.”
As for New Hampshire, Trump’s famous political lieutenant, Corey Lewandowski, told a conservative radio host that the former president had empowered him to find the primary challenger for the state’s moderate Republican governor.
“The president is very unhappy with the chief executive of the State of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu,” Lewandowski told Howie Carr, a Boston-area radio employee. “And Sununu, according to the president’s estimation, is someone who has never been loyal to him. And the president said that it would be really great if someone went against Chris Sununu. “
A spokesperson for Sununu did not respond to a request for comment. But Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland, has much to say about Trump’s intervention.
“This is another outrageous example of a culture of canceling Trump that will do nothing but help elect more Democrats,” Hogan said. He added, “If we double down on the failure and focus on the ex-president’s strange personal grievances, then we will deserve the results.”
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https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/03/us/politics/swing-voters-politics.html Gloom’s politics: Concerns about suburban women’s voices