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Focus Group Obama Inches the Health Meter Forward, but Party Lines Still Split
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Focus Group Obama Inches the Health Meter Forward, but Party Lines Still Split

President Obama’s recent health care address to a joint session of Congress restored some confidence in his handling of the topic according to a focus group polled by CBS News in conjunction with Nielsen.  The panel consisted of seven Republicans, 17 Democrats, eight Independents, and four people who identified as something else. Overall, Democrats and Independents showed the most notable shift in confidence when asked their opinion immediately before and after the speech.

Panel confidence before and after speech

Pre-Speech: Overall how would you describe your level of confidence in the current administration’s plans for health care? All Sex Generally speaking, do you usually consider yourself?
Total Male Female Republican Democrat Independent Something Else
Sample Size: N= 36 18 18 7 17 8 4
1 – Not at all confident 22% 17% 28% 43% 12% 25% 25%
2 8% 11% 6% 14% 0% 12% 25%
3 33% 44% 22% 0% 29% 62% 50%
4 22% 22% 22% 29% 35% 0% 0%
5 – Very confident 14% 6% 22% 14% 24% 0% 0%

Post Speech: How would you describe your level of confidence in the current administration’s plans for health care? All Sex Generally speaking, do you usually consider yourself?
Total Male Female Republican Democrat Independent Something Else
Sample Size: N= 36 18 18 7 17 8 4
1 – Not at all confident 8% 6% 11% 29% 0% 12% 0%
2 6% 6% 6% 14% 0% 12% 0%
3 11% 11% 11% 14% 6% 12% 25%
4 28% 33% 22% 29% 18% 50% 25%
5 – Very confident 47% 44% 50% 14% 76% 12% 50%

During the speech, the panel also indicated their positive and negative reactions using dial meters, which showed the health care debate is still sharply divided among party lines.

FromTheBrink

Discussing the impact of the bailouts and stimulus, the President noted efforts earlier in the year had “pulled the economy back from the brink,” driving Democratic support high, and sending the Independent and Republican meters downward. Similarly, when the President brought up the costs of the Bush administration tax cuts and the cost of the Iraq war, Democrats responded enthusiastically as Independents and Republicans headed in the other direction.IraqWarAndTaxBreaks

Online Reaction

Outside the focus group, internet chatter related to the President’s two speeches this week, the address, and a speech to school children the day before, online sentiment for the speech was generally positive according to Nielsen Buzzmetrics. However, the school speech drew much more attention based on controversy surrounding parental and school concerns about the scope and potential partisan nature of the President speaking to school children to promote his agenda.

obama_speech_buzz