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Denver, CO. August 29, 2008. On this historic evening, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner/Democracy Corps conducted qualitative research in the swing state of Nevada among 39 undecided voters or weak supporters of either candidate who watched Obama’s speech. Participants answered a series of questions about the election, the candidates, and the major issues in this campaign. They then watched Barack Obama’s acceptance speech live, followed by another series of questions on many of the same topics. Two follow-up focus group discussions with 21 of the participants allowed for significant exploration of reactions to the speech. While this was clearly a qualitative exercise and not a representative survey, the movement we saw in attitudes toward the election and Barack Obama was dramatic:
# After viewing the speech, more than 1-in-4 of these swing voters moved from undecided to supporting Barack Obama or from supporting John McCain to undecided.
# On a thermometer scale of 0 to 100, Obama’s mean score rose 9 degrees (from 57 to 66 degrees) after voters saw his speech.
# Obama achieved gains on every personal attribute tested in this exercise, with the most dramatic movement coming on some of the most important measures in our polling – ‘on your side,’ ‘has what it takes to be President,’ and ‘will keep America strong.’
# In a head-to-head match-up with John McCain on which candidate would better handle a series of issues, Obama again gained ground on every measure, with the most significant movement coming on ‘national security,’ ‘strengthening America’s relationships with other countries,’ and ‘sharing my values.’
In the focus group conversation after the speech – one group with those who shifted toward Obama and another among solidly undecided voters – it was clear that the introductory video and speech made a deep impression. Voters spoke emotionally about the importance of family to Obama and the central role that family plays in his life and his beliefs. They applauded his emphasis on personal and mutual responsibility, his commitment to veterans, and his refusal to engage in negative personal attacks on McCain. They came away with a firm belief that Obama understands the challenges facing our country, and particularly middle class and working families. Perhaps most importantly, from his plan to cut taxes for small businesses and the middle class to his commitment to alternative energy and victory in Afghanistan, they believe he has the right ideas to produce the change these voters desperately seek.
Voters in both groups cited the unique atmosphere at Invesco Field as one of the most memorable aspects of tonight’s speech. They found the sheer size and scope of the event very impressive, but they were most impacted by the audience and the fact that it didn’t look like a typical convention audience. Looking at the crowd tonight, they saw real people who reminded them of themselves and their neighbors, reinforcing the focus on the middle class that so many of them saw running through both Obama’s personal story and his policies.
What do you think?
- Democracy Corps Nevada Focus Group Results for 2nd Presidential Debate
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