The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

In a focus group Monday night that brought together 11 adults from diverse backgrounds, Lisa from Philadelphia described President Obama’s backbone as comprised of diamond, “the hardest material.”

Wadeeah, a Democrat from Lansdowne, noted that “Your credit score has to be 730 to get a friggin’ Hyundai.”

And Patricia, a bartender from Bala Cynwyd, broke down in tears because her family is now facing homelessness.

In a pristine conference room of the new Annenberg Public Policy Center last night, renowned pollster Peter Hart moderated this group of adults from across the political spectrum. The Annenberg study, to be aired on C-SPAN, sought to elicit qualitative feedback on the new administration’s progress thus far.

Between the five Democrats, three Republicans and three Independents who participated in the focus group, there was considerable frustration with today’s state of affairs. In particular, participants — who disclosed only their first names for the purposes of the focus group — discussed unemployment, the economy in general and health care.

During one exercise, Hart listed names ranging from Sarah Palin to Harry Reid on an easel and asked participants to conjure up one word to describe each person. When Obama was proffered, responses included “intelligent,” “eloquent” and “nice guy.” Even the staunch Republicans went only so far as “showman” and “inexperienced.”

Yet when Hart got to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the room sunk with a collective moan before urging from Hart yielded “abrasive,” “egomaniac” and “polarizing.”

As the discussion progressed, this antagonism was not only directed at Pelosi, but extended to all of Congress.

“I look at Congress and I hold them responsible, I don’t hold Obama responsible — he walked in,” noted Tim, a 39-year-old Republican. “How many new faces do we have in the Congress?”

When Hart called a time-out and asked how many people agreed with Tim’s statement, eight of the 11 raised their hands. When asked to put a face on Congress, two participants answered, “Satan.”

If the group found common ground in their opinions of one person last night, it was Michelle Obama. Participants described her as poised, strong and admirable before comparing her to Jackie Kennedy.

Following the focus group, Managing Director of the National Annenberg Election Survey Ken Winneg noted that the group expressed more optimism than he had expected after a tumultuous summer.

Hart similarly remarked that when asked to describe what Obama’s backbone was made of, participants seemed more confident in their president than they had in his July focus group.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.