Veteran pollster Peter Hart and Hart Research Associates conducted their sixth focus group of the 2016 election cycle on Tuesday, October 25. They brought together a dozen men and women in Charlotte, N.C., who said that they remained undecided with only two weeks left until Election Day, November 8.
In his analysis (available below), Hart writes: “Election 2016 ends where it began — an unhappy electorate looking for change, dissatisfied with the choices they had for president.” In the focus group, all of the participants agreed that they did not like either of the presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. They liked the idea of a political outsider, but have been alienated by Trump’s “embarrassing” and sometimes frightening behavior. On the other hand, Hart says, Clinton is seen as untrustworthy and distant, and her “e-mails continue to haunt her with this group of voters.”
For the majority of the mostly white group, racial issues were not significantly important and they felt that race problems have been somewhat exaggerated, but they acknowledged that there is “work to do to repair and improve race relations in the country,” Hart says. Everyone in the group praised the Obamas, who “emerge as refreshingly esteemed and admired figures unsullied by the ugliness of the 2016 campaign,” particularly First Lady Michelle Obama.
“The overwhelming message that emerged from each session is that the voters want to turn the page and begin a new chapter with more stability and an opportunity to reestablish America’s standing in the world and to rebuild the shrinking middle class,” says Hart.
“Voices of the Voters” is an ongoing project run by Hart for the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, which aims to provide a qualitative sense of what voters are thinking and feeling, and what issues are important to average citizens. Sessions for the 2016 presidential race were conducted in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, 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.
Charlotte focus group on October 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.