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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

2008 GOP Presidential Field Focus Group . . . The Spin Starts There

A recent "focus group" of 30 or so Republicans in New Hampshire and Iowa dealt with potential 2008 presidential nominees (McCain, Allen, Romney, Giuliani, Frist, and Newt).

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 . . .


Anonymous said...

Jeff, don't take this the wrong way because I don't want to seem like someone coming on you blog and attacking, but I'm curious what your thougths are on D. Michael Quinn's book "Early Mormonism and the Magic World View." It claims Joseph Smith was involved in the occult, using seer stones, amulets, incantations, etc.

I mean, he did use seer stones and amulets for sure (his "magic" stone and his Jupiter amulet he was wearing when he was shot). I don't know about the incantations, but that's a Quinn claim.

You are very reasonable and good at defending your faith, so I'm wondering what your thoughts are.

Anonymous said...


I have never read "EM and Magic World View", only a brief synopsis, however let me try to explain:

In remembering Joseph Smith's claim that he was restoring the same church that existed in Bibical times, it seems reasonable that he might try to restore perhaps some of the religious clothing that people in the Bible wore (breastplate with seer stones) (ie, Moses, Aaron.. etc etc... see Ex. 28:30, Lev 8:8, Num 27:21. KJV).

It's unlikely that Joseph Smith was involved in the occult, incantations, etc. given the fact that several members of the early LDS Church claimed that they had certain talking stones, etc etc... In the book 'Doctrine and Covenants' (revelations to Joseph Smith and a few following prophets) there are a few times where Joseph Smith teaches people not to listen to these stone.

A few years before Quinn's excommunication from the LDS church, there was a lot of research into the early church and magic. However, '... Mormon and non-Mormon scholars have also criticized the book as relying too heavily on environmental parallels without a proven connection to Smith's ideas and behavior.." Other critics that review EM and the MWV find that none of the primary sources for the book were written by Latter Day Saints, although the book is "richly documented" (See Wikipedia:D._Michael_Quinn for quotes on this page)

Of course given the first paragraph and bibical references where they used seer stones, I guess it comes down to where you as a person draw the line between what can be divine vs supernatural.

Anonymous in TN. (no blogger account)

PS as a side note, what does this have to do with Romney?

Jeff Fuller said...

Thanks for answering second anonymous!

Sometimes I refer people with religious questions to . . . a site where Mormon Apologetics run.

Straight Talk Iowa Style said...


John McCain did well in the focus group, not because of his front-runner status, but in spite of it. More specifically, the results are indicative of how many Iowans view John McCain, as the clear front runner in the race.

Here's why:

The Radio Iowa Blog has a transcript of John McCain's Q & A with reporters regarding his Presidential aspirations. Specifically, McCain addresses questions about his conservative credentials here:

Q: Senator, you talked in the past -- you're a conservative, but you've talked about being a centrist and trying to unify the whole country and appealing to Democrats and Independents -- does the Caucus here, dominated as it is by conservatives, make you have to fight against that natural impulse to reach out?

McCain: I don't know, Mark. I think that most people attribute our low approval ratings of cognress to our inability to get anything done, that we've not really accomplished anything and that as you well know, as least in the senate, requires at least some level of bipartisanship because of the 60 vote requirement. I think most Americans are wanting us to work together on certain issues and I will, if I run, speak with pride over the things that I've been able to do in a bipartisan fashion and I understand and appreciate the bitterness in American political climate today. I watched the Lieberman thing, the Joe Schwartz election. I pay close attention to them but I still, every poll and every indicator that I see -- people want us to work together on issues that transcend partisan politics.

The premise of the question is flawed. It presumes several things: first that being a conservative means you can't get anything done. That is far from the truth. Conservative victories in the Congress have been numerous, including the confirmations of Alito and Roberts to the Supreme Court. The second presumption is that just because McCain "reaches out" to others he is not a Conservative. The effects of reaching out to others leads to getting things accomplished for America.

This is why Straight Talk Iowa Style claims that John McCain fits squarely into Ronald Reagan's pramatic ideolouge model. The Reagan 80-20 rule is demonstrative of this claim. Republicans may agree on things 80 percent of the time and not the other 20 percent. That's what you have here and that is why John McCain is the guy who can get things done for America.

Anonymous said...

STIS -- None of that changes the fact that these focus groups were set up to favor McCain and Gingrich.

Unfortunately for McCain, he is a creature of Washington and people will see him as part of the problem and not part of the solution. That, his failure to support the tax cuts, his lack of any executive experience and his bypassing of Iowa in 2000 will all add up to a poor showing in Iowa in 2008.

Anonymous said...

I posted the first comment, and it really has nothing to do with Romney other than the fact that he's Mormon. I have read Jeff's answers to LDS questions, and he's always thoughtful and articulate. That's why I didn't want it to seem like I was attacking him or his faith. It's just something I read about and was wondering what his thoughts were.

11:12, I agree with you. McCain might pull a 4th or 5th in Iowa. Too many people remember all too well.

Anonymous said...

Ok, hoped my comments may have helped 2:18!

I too think people will remember McCain's past.

Anon in TN

Anonymous said...

This is a fascinating discussion, but it boils down to religious bigotry is religious bigotry, period. It appears Brownback has a history of tough campaigning then asking forgiveness as he did with Mitt. Check out the piece at today, a progressive blog with some interesting history about Brownback's apologies -- and his robo-calls.