The results are presented as McCain and Newt coming out on top. I'd love to have seen the real results and not the spin. I'm very suspicious of the headline and the subsequent spin for a few reasons: 1) this was only released to an Arizona newspaper, 2) that it was quickly picked up by a paid McCain blogger and 3) that Luntz is tightly tied to the current GOP power structure and a documented McCain fan (even titled his GOP strategy confidential memo "Straight Talk". . . that got leaked--surprise, surprise! Interestingly, going further back, Luntz was also a key player in the formulation of "The Contract with America")
Now, are we surprised that the results are presented in favor of McCain and Newt? (Do they think we're not going to look into this stuff?)
Of Romney the focus group leader said:
Mitt Romney: "Romney looks and sounds presidential," Luntz said of the Massachusetts governor.
He is viewed as "the smoothest" of the candidates, even by those who don't particularly warm to him. But Romney's toughest hurdle may be how well he responds to questions about his Mormon religion.
In New Hampshire, Luntz noted, "Voters appreciated how he dodged details about his faith, focusing on 'values that we share.' "
But Iowa has a significant Christian conservative population, and Luntz said his response to the religious question there raised more questions than it answered.
So, the only "knock" on Romney from the focus group is among Iowan Christian Conservatives? I think that is a great sign! It's here in Iowa that Romney is looking the strongest and where he's gotten the best reviews from crowds. He got great reviews a couple of months ago at an Iowa Christian Alliance House Party that I was able to attend (see reports here, here and here)
Romney's sitting pretty from my vantage point! Keep an eye out for the spin though . . .