This clip comes from a report on a focus group in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Women were asked a number of questions about political issues ranging from women’s concerns like birth control and abortion to what they expected in a candidate.
The answers were disturbing, at least to me. They indicate a failure of the news media, success of negative ads, and a strange set of criteria for leadership. I’m not sure if they’re representative of women as a whole or not, to be honest, which is why I’m asking the question.
Peter Hart looked for women who were not committed to either candidate and asked them about qualities they looked for. They said that President Obama’s leadership and strength was lacking, while citing Scott Walker’s strong leadership. (Also Paul Ryan.)
What that tells me is that they were tuned into the authoritarianism Scott Walker and Paul Ryan demonstrate. When Paul Ryan hisses the imperative “We must deal with these entitlements,” or when Scott Walker pre-emptively threatens peaceful lawful protesters with the National Guard, that’s leadership?
Moreover, there appeared to be no consciousness of how damaging the Republican strategy of obstruction has been — a strategy hatched and implemented by Paul Ryan and his cohorts, by the way.
On Mitt Romney, this group said they wanted him to be more personable. Only one woman in the room mentioned “strength of conviction.” So if he’s nice and he lies, that’s totally all right? Really?
The only thing that seemed to make some sense to me about this report were the remarks about women’s health and how it doesn’t really belong in daily political discourse.
Peter Hart reads this as women caring about their own lives and look for an empathetic ear in their leaders. I certainly agree that this is a prime concern for men AND women, but women tend to be more attuned to it.
What bothers me about this group is not their responses per se, but that they seem to have checked out from being particularly engaged. This group represents that small, tiny slice of uncommitted voters out there, and it’s an even smaller representative slice because it’s only the female piece. Yet they strike me as being heavily influenced by cursory media reports and/or negative ads. How else can you explain the disconnect between how they answer the question about reproductive health and how they view President Obama’s leadership?
So I ask you. Do you think this group is representative of those women out there who haven’t made up their minds about who to choose as President in November? Do you think they’ve been well served by what limited media they may consume? And how do we reach out to them — regardless of whether they lean conservative or liberal — and get some real information in front of them?
It’s a dilemma. Help!