On August 25, pollster Peter Hart brought together a focus group of a dozen swing voters in Milwaukee to discuss their opinions of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and their general views of the election and the state of the country.
The group was made up of men and women who do not feel bound by party lines and have each voted for at least one Democrat and one Republican since 2000. A common theme that emerged, Hart notes, is that they “are not voting for someone they want to be president, but against someone they do NOT want to be president.” Hillary Clinton is ahead with these voters, but the lack of trust they have for her remains an issue. When asked what scent comes to mind when they think of this election, the group of voters offered up a range of options including “sulfur,” “skunk,” and “garbage.”
While they may not trust Clinton, they see Trump as a “risk candidate” and prefer Clinton as the “safer choice.” Hart sees similarities between this election and the 1980 election, when many voters needed reassurance that GOP presidential candidate Ronald Reagan could be a “safe choice”: “This year, a lot of voters know they do not want Donald Trump as president, but they need to know that they can ‘live with’ Hillary Clinton for the next four years.”
Hart said he convened the group in Milwaukee because it is on the front line of many of the issues and challenges in America this election season.
The “Voices of the Voters” project aims to provide a qualitative sense of what voters are thinking and feeling, and what issues are important to average citizens. Sessions for this election cycle have also been conducted in Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, and Colorado. To read an analysis with key findings of the session from Peter Hart and Corrie Hunt, click here. See below to watch a full video of the focus group session.
Milwaukee focus group on August 25, 2016
About the Speaker
For more than 40 years, Peter D. Hart has been one of the leading analysts of public opinion in the United States. Since 1971, he has directed Peter D. Hart Research Associates, which has conducted more than 6,000 public opinion surveys that have included interviews among more than five million individuals. Hart Research also has undertaken more than 5,000 focus group sessions. Mr. Hart currently serves as Chairman of Hart Research and Senior Counselor to the McGinn Group.Mr. Hart built his reputation on his successful work in politics, with Hart Research working for 54 U.S. Senators and 45 Governors, more than any other polling firm. His firm’s client list reads as a Who’s Who of American Politics, representing major American political figures including the Clintons, Humphreys, Kennedys, Mondales, and Rockefellers. He is quoted and cited regularly in major media outlets, and has been described as “the uber-pollster,” (David Brooks, New York Times), “the best in the business,” (Andrea Mitchell, NBC News), “truly one of the deans of the political and Democratic polling communities” (Charlie Cook, National Journal), and one of 150 national leaders who shape federal government policy (National Journal).Over the last 20 years, Mr. Hart has shifted his focus towards public policy, cultural and social issues, and strategic consulting work for corporations. Corporate clients have included Boeing, American Airlines, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, AT&T, and Tiffany and Company. His work in the non-profit field includes research for Habitat for Humanity, the ACLU, The Smithsonian Institution, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Internationally, Mr. Hart has conducted studies in South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Over the past decade, he has taught courses on the role of public opinion research at Duke University’s Sanford Institute of Public Policy, the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, and at UC Berkeley.Mr. Hart appears frequently on major television programs that discuss public policy issues, including Meet the Press, The Today Show, and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. His focus groups on presidential elections for the Annenberg Public Policy Center are often shown in their entirety on C-Span. In 1989, along with Robert Teeter, Mr. Hart was selected by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal to conduct their public opinion polling. 2009 marks the 20th year of this relationship.