Washington Post reporter Ashley Parker said that one of the things she learned from Republican pollsters speaking to GOP voters in focus groups who revealed that despite their support for the party, they really didn't like what happened on Jan. 6.
"This was the biggest thing that the polls missed and that the analysis missed," said MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace during a post-mortem election discussion. "That somehow democracy was too big and weighty of an issue for voters to understand. And the right likes to portray, especially on Fox News, the elites as talking above the voters, but this is an instance where Fox News talked beneath the voters and talking down to them had a price."
What Trump did on Jan. 6, Wallace explained, wasn't just about his abuse of power, but it was also about turning the United States into a laughing stock of the world for undermining the governance America was most known for. The GOP candidates that Trump recruited were based only on their fealty to Trump and not to the country. It became painfully obvious the difference between those two types of candidates.
"Those Republican candidates, many of whom Trump supported in the primaries absolutely were poor quality candidates for a general election climate," said Parker. "And that was bourne out in the results and talking about democracy. One thing is fascinating, you have Trump voters who will tell you they're sick of the chaos, and the controversy. He's not the best candidate. But if he's the nominee, they would vote for him over President Biden."
However, she explained, there is a softening in that group of voters.
"The first time we really saw it in the post-Trump presidency, was when the January 6 hearings were occupying sort of prime time and prime psychic space in the national consciousness. And you had those voters, again — they weren't saying they were going to vote against Trump or they didn't think he was a good president or they regretted their pro-Trump vote in 2016 or 2020. But in talking to someone who runs the focus groups with Trump Republicans and establishment Republicans, what they said was there was a softening," Parker revealed. "They didn't like looking back at the 2020 election. They wanted to look forward. They didn't like what they saw at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and this was this one moment where they were willing to consider another candidate."
So, while Republicans may not have appeared on polls saying they were voting based on "democracy," the reality is, their attitudes around it weren't supportive of the MAGA Republican candidates.
"You have to win suburban women and independent voters and that is where they were more likely to be receptive to a Democratic argument," said Parker. "Or almost just opposed to what they were ready to move beyond in the Republican Party."
This is the fourth election in a row where pollsters have been wrong about the attitudes of Americans. The implication is that asking yes or no questions is not helpful in revealing where voters are in a political world with a lot of grey areas. The same thing happened to anti-abortion groups in their polling. While they have years of polls saying that nearly a majority of Americans didn't necessarily support abortion, polls that asked whether voters supported Roe v. Wade gave a different picture.
The most famous example comes from Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who predicted Republicans would win 233-240 seats and that issues like "democracy" weren't even in the top three of issues.
\u201cTop issues for 2022 voters:\n\n1. The economy\n2. Inflation and rising prices\n3. Crime\n\u2026\n6. Abortion\n10. Donald Trump\n\nThis year, Democrats ran on abortion and Trump while ignoring Americans' growing economic hardship.\u201d— Frank Luntz (@Frank Luntz) 1667866500
See the full conversation below:
Why polls were so wrong on the "democracy" voter www.youtube.com
'In awe of the incompetence' Mitch McConnell bombarded after Democrats gain Senate majority www.youtube.com