Undecided “Walmart moms” in Milwaukee, Wis., gave the presidential debate win to President Obama by a narrow margin — but they’re not sold yet.
In a bipartisan focus group conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Momentum Analysis and sponsored by Walmart, a group of undecided female voters were asked to vote for who they thought won the second presidential debate. Five women in the group said Obama, three said Mitt Romney, and two said they thought it was tie.
Overall, though, most of these women said they remain undecided. They said they feel as though it’s time to do some more research on the candidates, and ultimately, it’s time to make their decision.
The words associated with Obama’s performance were a mix of positive and negative — they ranged from unprepared and stumbling, to specific, impressive and prepared.
The same was true for Romney, as far as the mixed feelings. Some women said they saw him as confident, others described him as arrogant and superior. There was a tepid agreement that Obama seemed more genuine than Romney.
About half of the women in the room had watched the first presidential debate, and that group was actually split between whether they thought Obama did better or worse this time around.
But “winning” the debate doesn’t necessarily mean “winning” these women’s hearts. A couple of women noted that their verdict for who won the debate was not the same as their verdict for who they agreed with more.
One woman said that she found herself agreeing much more with Obama throughout the debate, but she thought Romney’s delivery was smoother. Another woman said the reverse: She thought Obama seemed better prepared, but she agreed with Romney.
When asked what they need to hear from the candidates in order to make their decision, the answers were somewhat mixed. One woman said she’d need to hear more about affordable health care. Several women responded that they’d like to hear more about the candidates’ education plans. Another woman, who said that her mother was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, wanted to hear specifics about Medicare and what it will look like going down the road.
The women agreed on a series of points.
First, the debate made them want to do more research on the candidates. “I need to research some of these facts,” one skeptical sounding woman said. “Anybody can spout out numbers,” said another woman.
Second, these women would like to hear more about education: what each candidate plans to do to improve our schools. This was a complaint that was echoed in the first presidential debate, among a similar focus group of Wal-mart moms in Las Vegas. The participants said they felt as though no one was really talking about education, and that’s a problem. “Did they talk about it at all?” one woman asked. “Except college, which is great, but kids can’t get into college if they don’t have education before.”
And finally, not a single woman in the focus group tonight said that she felt as though the candidates were speaking to her personally. Both of these men failed again tonight to make that human connection — at least with this group of voters.
When asked who they felt the candidates were mainly addressing tonight, the consensus was that it seemed like Romney and Obama were only addressing one another.