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PA Swing Voters Speak Out in Focus Group

  • “Both parties have made mistakes and there’s issues with both of them so I can’t put the blame on one over the other. I don’t know that Republicans would make any better choices.”

Recently, 13 Pennsylvania voters participated in the Swing Voter Project, an online focus group conducted by Engagious, in partnership with Schlesinger Group and Axios. Engagious conducts monthly focus groups with U.S. adults who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020.

Listening to the responses during the 10-minute video, it is not clear that those who follow politics truly understand the mindset of the swing voter.

“There’s a hypothesis going around among people who follow politics – voters like you are concerned about war, inflation, crime, social issues, COVID and don’t see many solutions coming from Democrats in Washington,” asked Rich Thau, co-founder and president of Engagious. “They argue that people like you are likely to vote for Republican senate and governor candidates this November.”

  • “Since I’m a registered Democrat and I didn’t like the Republican choices, I’m going to stick with what we have.” 
  • “I am going to be looking at these Democrats harder because there are a lot of issues that are not being solved. But I can’t say it’s a blanket statement that I’m going to go to the polls and just check off Republican and walk out.” 
  • Are they big Trump fans? Are they still preaching the election was stolen? You know, all that jazz, that I just can’t stomach. Yes, I predominantly back in the day voted Republican but I feel like now I’m becoming more of a moderate Democrat even though I’m still registered as a Republican and I could fathom voting for a Republican that is pro-Trump.”

Eight of 13 Trump-to-Biden voters are apprehensive about putting Republicans in control of congress next year.

  • “If Republicans were the majority of the House and Senate I think we’d see a lot of moving backwards when it comes to social issues.” 
  • “I believe that if the Republicans got back in the party, right now, with all the ways that they’re trying to push voter suppression, our country would really, really be in trouble. 
  • “I’m a born and raised Republican. Never voted for a Democrat until 2020. I think as I get older, I get a little more concerned about how we treat our fellow man. I wish I didn’t have to affiliate with one party over the other. But at the end of the day, I have concerns for children and I have concerns for those that aren’t as lucky as I’ve been.” 
  • “Some of their issues I just question. I don’t think they want to try to work with Democrats. I wish they would. I wish they’d show they’re the party that’s willing to work with the other party. Not on everything because you can’t do that. But just some of their issues are so far out there. I’ll still be a registered Republican but there’s never been a guarantee, especially now, that I’ll go that way.”

When attention was turned to the U.S. Senate race, it turned towards the two biggest names in the race – Mehmet Oz and David McCormick. When shown unlabeled photos of the pair, 12 could identify Oz by name; only one could identify McCormick.

The descriptions of Dr. Oz were not flattering. And after viewing positive ads for both, McCormick seemed to be perceived in a better light.

  • “I like the ads. It looks like he’s for the people. He’s down there. He’s one of us. He’s not grandstanding with his doctor of cardiology. He’s for people and it looks like he would do better for us.”
  • “I take offense that Oz is not from PA. I’m not originally either but the fact that he sort of moved in and established residency to run concerns me.”

And what about all the advertising. It may surprise you to know that none of the ads would sway the group to flip to Oz and may only make them do more homework on McCormick. And the Trump endorsement of Oz?

  • “I’d rather not see Trump endorsing him. Because I can’t stand Trump. I voted for him the first time around. I thought he was great most of the way and then I just didn’t like his act. So him endorsing Dr. Oz, it’s like those two are in line with each other. I’m not saying they actually are, but Trump must think that’s the better one for what he would want to gain maybe down the road.
  • “Almost makes me not want to vote for him just because I despise Trump that much but that’s just me.”

On the Democratic side, most of the respondents could not identify the top three candidates by name based on unlabeled photos. After viewing ads, three of the four respondents who are registered Democrats said they would choose Malcolm Kenyatta, while one opted for John Fetterman.

  • (Conor) Lamb seems like a college frat boy. That’s just the way he came up. He looks clean cut and I like that. But out of the three, I would choose Fetterman.” 
  • “(Kenyatta is a) breath of fresh air. Honest. Transparent. And I think he has the middle class in his forefront.” 
  • “Just knowing there’s so much crime right now in Philly and just needing an advocate for that. I think I would align more with Malcolm.”

Thau wrapped up the focus group with the race for the governor’s mansion. However, that contest is barely a blip on the respondents’ radar screen.

Only three of the 13 could name Josh Shapiro, while only two could name a single Republican candidate – Lou Barletta. Clearly, there is little oxygen left in the room at this point of the race for others to make their case.

9 Responses

  1. Trump has always been a fantastic leader. If you don’t support him you are either stupid or a traitor.

  2. 13 Pennsylvania “voters” take part in a “focus group,” and a majority of them can’t even identify many of the candidates in our US Senate and Governor’s races.

    THIS is why we’re in the situation we’re in.

  3. Not sure these 13 people have better viewpoints than anyone else or this exercise added any broad based political insights.

  4. Connor Lamb’s ads are weak and it shows. I am for him but he needs to step up his game

    1. Conor is a weak milquetoast candidate, that’s about all you’re going to get.

  5. Trump always was a con man. If you support him, then you are either stupid or a traitor.

  • Reader Poll: Should President Joe Biden Step Aside?

    • Yes. He should step aside because of his age, declining ability to do the job. (45%)
    • No. He should not step aside. (39%)
    • Yes. He should step aside because he can't beat Donald Trump. (15%)

    Total Voters: 231

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