Friday, November 30, 2007

Cranky Dial Crankers

Via a Kevin Drum post, I made it to Joe Klein's blog on the Time magazine site. The post was about Klein attending a dial-based focus group of undecided Republican voters during the Republican debate earlier this week. In the exercise, the people turn the dials to register their approval or disapproval as the candidates speak. Now, I would like to go on record as saying I would like to see how this group was selected before assigning this nastiness to Republicans writ large. But regardless of they were picked this is one long excerpt of depressing.

In the next segment--the debate between Romney and Mike Huckabee over Huckabee's college scholarships for the deserving children of illegal immigrants--I noticed something really distressing: When Huckabee said, "After all, these are children of God," the dials plummeted. And that happened time and again through the evening: Any time any candidate proposed doing anything nice for anyone poor, the dials plummeted (30s). These Republicans were hard.

But there was worse to come: When John McCain started talking about torture--specifically, about waterboarding--the dials plummeted again. Lower even than for the illegal Children of God. Down to the low 20s, which, given the natural averaging of a focus group, is about as low as you can go. Afterwards, Luntz asked the group why they seemed to be in favor of torture. "I don't have any problem pouring water on the face of a man who killed 3000 Americans on 9/11," said John Shevlin, a retired federal law enforcement officer. The group applauded, appallingly.


*Related to the Ron Paul post a couple of days ago there was this tidbit:

They also hated anything that Ron Paul said (high 30s to low 20s), especially on the war in Iraq.

It seems not all the Republican base is ready for Paulapalooza.

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