Video: Luntz focus group unloads on Obama after debate

posted at 8:41 am on October 17, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

In my estimation, last night’s debate was a draw.  Both men did what they needed to do for the debate, but neither had enough of a breakout performance to make much of a difference in the race. I’d expect to see very little impact to the Mitt-mentum that developed after the first debate, for reasons which I’ll address in a moment.

That wasn’t the conclusion reached by Frank Luntz’ focus group of former Barack Obama voters, and now undecideds, in Nevada.  That panel overwhelmingly chose Mitt Romney as the winner, with observations about Romney’s presidential mien and Obama’s defensiveness and lack of vision for a second term.  But one woman, whom (as Luntz jokes) bears a strong resemblance to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, neatly sums up the status of many undecideds, as well as Obama’s big problem with these debates:

“I was not undecided between Obama and Romney.  I was undecided between Romney and not voting.”

That’s the problem for any incumbent President in the final days of the election.  They get almost four years to make the case for another term.  If voters are still undecided with three weeks left to go, the best an incumbent can hope to do is convince them not to vote at all.  That has been the explicit campaign strategy of Team Obama since Romney wrapped up the nomination in May — to make him so toxic that the protest vote against Obama stays home.

Unfortunately, that strategy collapsed after the first debate, and its collapse made the strategy obvious enough to be offensive.  Last night, Obama finally decided to show some passion about wanting a second term, but he still hasn’t explained why he wants it or what he’ll do with it, even during last night’s debate.  The only case he offered was that he wasn’t Mitt Romney, the same argument that Obama used before the first debate.  And he spent most of the evening speaking with an oddly high-pitched tone, as if he was offended that he even needed to go that far.

Obama gave those undecideds no reason last night to vote for him or to stay home on Election Day.  That’s why nothing that happened in the debate will change the trajectory of the race.

Meanwhile, if you’re unimpressed with a Fox focus group, you can always balance that out with MSNBC’s focus group of undecideds from last night.  Final score there: Obama 1, Romney 1, with the other six abstaining from a choice until after the next debate:

That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for an Obama victory claim.

Update: My Townhall brother Guy Benson says I should rewatch the MSNBC focus group:

 Hey Ed,  saw your post (I have one going up on the focus groups later, too)….I’d gently nudge you toward re-watching MSNBC’s.  I think 1-1 and 6 undeclared is very generous to Obama.  Two people explicitly said they’re going Romney, and another said she’s leaning towards him now.  One girl said Obama, the others didn’t commit, but even the African American remained unsold on O.  Just wanted to point that out!

I’d watch it again, but it seems to be down on the YouTube site for some reason.  I relied more on the tally from the moderator of the group, but Guy may well be correct.

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A real leftist would have passed the Brady assault weapons ban.
Ric on October 17, 2012 at 12:46 PM


I also reject the argument of gun owners needing semi auto weapons… A pistol or shotgun works just fine as a deterrent and last resort weapon.
Ric on July 24, 2012 at 9:02 PM


if you don’t know what semi-automatic means, you can’t make an effective argument.
Rusty Allen on July 24, 2012 at 9:46 PM


Fair enough…
Ric on July 24, 2012 at 11:47 PM

That the discussion seemed to have done nothing to trigger self-reflection on a rigidly-held ideology?
Obama 2012!!/!
rogerb on July 25, 2012 at 6:09 AM

rogerb on October 17, 2012 at 1:54 PM

No shame, according to the Washington Times, as they applaud O’s slam against Romney’s pension statement.

quiz1 on October 17, 2012 at 9:19 AM

That response was so particularly awful by 0-bow-mao.

If I were considering hiring him for a job, and he said something that stupid, I’d label it instant disqualifier, considering it to be indicative of an embarrassing, low functional IQ.

Anti-Control on October 17, 2012 at 1:56 PM

When you are so far to the left that Mao looks conservative, I can understand why Obama would look “moderate” to you. The problem is, by any reasonable definition, Obama is far left. Sure, he did not act on it in all instances, such as single payer and the Bush tax cuts, but that is b/c he has to live in reality and nod to politics for any chance to get re-elected.

Monkeytoe on October 17, 2012 at 1:47 PM

Great post.

To anyone who’s unconvinced of 0-bow-mao’s leftism, I ask, how much further left could he have gone during his GM takeover? That was about as statist/anti-capitalistic as a person could be!

Anti-Control on October 17, 2012 at 2:03 PM

If I were considering hiring him for a job, and he said something that stupid, I’d label it instant disqualifier, considering it to be indicative of an embarrassing, low functional IQ.
Anti-Control on October 17, 2012 at 1:56 PM

I’d like to see a single pre-presidency checkbook ledger. I’d imagine some things were written down here and there, but I doubt he ever sat and balanced it.

rogerb on October 17, 2012 at 2:03 PM

Keep in mind that the Ginsburg looking lady was Jewish (Star of David around her neck) I wonder if her setiment is the same as many other Jewish
Conservative4ev on October 17, 2012 at 1:47 PM

The ones I deal with do. And all my clients are Jewish.

Cleombrotus on October 17, 2012 at 2:06 PM

This debate wasn’t a draw! Rush is saying it right today..all Obama did was lie last night, why the heck does he get points for that? it’s outrageous to me all these conservative pundits are saying it was a draw and Obama did well..just outrageous

sadsushi on October 17, 2012 at 2:08 PM

Benghazi will come up again in the foreign policy debate.

Gov. Romney has prepped the battlefield and found weaknesses in the target.

He also scored a hit with F&F which should also come up in the foreign policy debate. There was no response to it, which means more fire should be poured into it.

There are gaping holes in the Obama Doctrine: he doesn’t have one and the piecemeal stuff that has been done leaves gaping holes to fire through. Without a centerpiece of how America should act, Obama has, instead, taken it case by case and the cases are now falling down like a house of cards due to lack of structure.

ajacksonian on October 17, 2012 at 11:29 AM


That Benghazi exchange was not a bad move at all for Mitt. Maybe, if the election were held today or tomorrow, it would have been a poor risk to take. But, that isn’t the case, plus, there is another debate coming up.

I am thinking we should call him Mitt “Komodo Dragon” Romney, for striking a non-instantaneous, deadly blow while knowingly playing the long game!

Anti-Control on October 17, 2012 at 2:18 PM

Meanwhile, if you’re unimpressed with a Fox focus group…


verbaluce on October 17, 2012 at 11:55 AM

Obowma impresses you?

Yes, that great economic plan of Obowma that worked well the past 4 years. Adults take credit AND the blame for their failures, Obowma takes credit he never earned, while he passes blame onto ATM’s, tsunamis, Libya attack on a video, fat cat bankers, Wall Street…or the topper, WE just have not understood his wisdom ashes on TV daily.

dthorny on October 17, 2012 at 2:19 PM

The media can try to spin an Obama win, but reality in this case is like fingernails on a chalkboard. He didn’t win. Even the media is half-hearted about it.

And he LIED. That’s what people are talking about.


Zero is sinking fast. He’s tapped out, spent.

dogsoldier on October 17, 2012 at 6:14 PM

and within 6 months he will be cutting deals with the leadership of his party for his vote on whatever crappy law they are working on at the moment to take more of our money, freedom and choices away. which means in 2 years you should be working your as@ of to get the next exceptional man elected.

unseen on October 17, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Easy now, You clearly don’t know the Gunny

JusDreamin on October 17, 2012 at 7:01 PM

thought the Ruth Bader Ginsburg quip was a bit rude from Luntz, when she was making some very valid points that deserved a better response.

That was the first thing that came to my mind, even before Luntz suggested it.

dverplank on October 17, 2012 at 8:30 PM