So how is the new Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan ticket playing in Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin? Among a group of swing voters — twelve white, suburban women from the Milwaukee area — the feelings are mixed.
Most of these women, brought together for a focus group conducted Tuesday night by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, think Obama is more approachable than Romney, are leery of the Ryan budget, and think Romney is “hiding something” by not releasing his taxes. But, overall, it’s still the economy — specifically their own fragile economic situation — that is driving their votes.
Michelle, a 38 year old unemployed wire technician and mother of three, voted for Obama in 2008, but said she is leaning toward Romney this November. “When you are without a job it’s just not nice out there,” said Michelle, ” In 2008, when I was still working I was into it [Obama and the election]. This year, I’m not so into it….I have a lot of anger. I have been laid off for three years. It is terrible out there.”
Here are some other key takeaways from this group of women, who say they are desperate for a candidate who can understand their struggles and help make their lives better:
1) They Are Disillusioned With Obama
Ten of the women in this group voted for Obama in 2008, but just four said they would definitely vote for him today. The other six expressed various levels of frustration with the president, and all were upset that he hadn’t lived up to his promises of 2008.
Diane, a 66-year-old social worker, said she was “really excited about Obama in 2008,” but since then, “I haven’t seen too much. I don’t even understand Obamacare. I don’t feel that positive anymore.”
2) But They Don’t Think Romney Is Relatable
When asked what kind of neighbors Mitt Romney and his family would make, these women pictured someone who was elitist and aloof. “Snobby,” “can’t associate with him,” “would feel like I am not good enough for him,” they said.
3) They Like Scott Walker
A number of women in the room voted for Obama in 2008, but also supported Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the recall. How can that be? They voted for Obama in 2008 because they wanted to see someone shake up the system and get stuff done. No more posturing. No more partisan posturing. With Walker, they see something similar. He is confident and competent. And willing to break some eggs.
Michelle, who voted for Obama in 2008, said she sees Walker as strong and decisive, while Obama has failed to lead. “We need someone who is brave,” she said. “Obama hasn’t shown he is brave enough to conquer this. He just seems like he’s taking on more that he can handle. I look at Scott Walker, I don’t think he went about it the right way. But it needed to get done and he got it done. ”
Suzy, a 24-year old retail clerk and recent college grad, said “I always lean towards the left, but I voted for him [Walker] in the recall. The last four years, Obama hasn’t stood enough for his convictions. Walker stood on his.”
4) They Are Wary Of Paul Ryan’s Plan
Jody, Michelle and Linda voted for Obama in 2008. They respect what Walker did in Wisconsin, but are wary of Ryan’s budget plan.
Says Michelle, the former electrical wirer, “with Walker it was with unions. They [unions] still had something, it’s not like everything got taken away from them. Ryan’s plan is not like that.”
Jody, a 55-year old educational administrator who voted for Obama in 2008, said, “Walker was dealing with unions, but when you touch on health care and medical, people get scared.”
Linda, who is also leaning toward Obama, said comparing Ryan to Walker was an “apples to meat comparison. Medicare,” said the 43 year old homemaker, “people rely on that.”
5) They Think Romney Is “Hiding Something” By Not Releasing His Taxes
Many were frustrated by his secretiveness, with one woman noting that “regular people don’t get these loopholes.” But this issue is not a driving concern for them.
Almost every woman in the room had experienced some serious economic loss/distress. From lost jobs, to lost homes, to family businesses that had to be sold off, these women have felt the brunt of the economic recession. And, while they don’t feel like it is going to get worse, they aren’t confident it’s going to get better either. Finally, they don’t see that Obama — or Romney — has any sort of specific plan to get America back on track.