Cincinnati-area voters issued a scathing and impassioned indictment of Washington D.C., the president and lawmakers, reports NBC’s Carrie Dann, who covered the focus group.
NBC/WSJ co-pollster Peter Hart (D) conducted the two-hour session in Mason on Wednesday. The event was sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania in conjunction with NBC News and The Wall Street Journal.
Writes Dan: These voters — who described themselves as independents who tend to lean one way or another — assailed the distrust, gridlock, weak leadership and callousness from a government they said seemed indifferent to solving problems. And, they added, they felt “helpless” to punish the lawmakers responsible.
What voters had to say about…
None of the eight voters who supported Obama in 2012, nor the three who voted for Mitt Romney, described themselves as “proud” or “satisfied” with the president, opting instead for “mixed” or “disappointed.”
“He’s a big disappointment,” said Brandi Nixon, 34, an African-American nurse assistant who voted for Obama in the last election. “He just lost focus. He lost focus on his goals. … He stopped focusing on creating more jobs and fixing the economy.”
Words used to describe the president, even by those who voted for him last year, included “inexperienced,” “powerless,” “cautious,” “timid” and “overwhelmed.”
Participants described a man buffeted by the events around him rather than a leader shaping the future of the country.
Much of their discontent stemmed from the poor rollout of the Affordable Care Act, which a majority cited as the biggest failure of Obama’s presidency. Still, most participants said it was possible that the law could ultimately be fixed.
For all the disappointment and frustration directed toward the president by the focus group, lawmakers in Congress received even more unvarnished anger, particularly regarding the government shutdown in October.
Again and again, these voters pleaded for both parties to “work together” and relate to their constituents rather than indulge in bickering and, as one put it, “all those steak dinners.”
Obama wasn’t absolved of guilt for the impasse that shuttered the federal government’s doors for 16 days; five participants gave him a grade of “D” or “F” for his handling of the shutdown.
Feeling helpless to fix or punish Washington:
Asked by NBC’s Chuck Todd how they hoped to punish Washington, participants agreed that they feel “helpless.”
“That’s probably the anger and the frustration,” said Jeff Brown, a 45-year-old scientist who leans Republican. “It’s not easy to do that.”
Voters described former secretary of state and potential 2016 candidate Hillary Clinton as “strong,” “vivacious,” “powerful,” “a great head of state” and “smart.”
All of the women in the group praised her sense of purpose, although the three Romney voters said they found her “distrustful.”
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