THURSDAY, JANUARY 20, 2022
The things they don't care about: The New York Times has opened a new "focus group" division. This may or may not make sense.
Last week, the Times published edited transcripts from discussions with two different groups—one group of nine Democrats, and another group of eight Republicans.
Today, they've published an edited transcript of a discussion with fourteen independents. Everyone in the group had voted at least one time for Obama and at least one time for Trump.
A person can only learn so much from such limited discussions with such small numbers of people. Here's one part of today's transcript which is largely a waste of time:
(Moderator) Frank Luntz: Anthony Fauci, who has a positive view towards him?
[Five people raise their hands.]
Luntz: Who’s got a negative view of Anthony Fauci?
[Eight people raise their hands.]
In this fourteen-person group, five had a positive view of Fauci; eight had a negative view. But that's the kind of up/down question which can be part of a standard survey with a much larger number of respondents. It doesn't make a lot of sense to pose a question like that to such a small group.
On the other hand, there are certain things you can take away from this sort of exercise. For starters, we would suggest this:
Many perfectly decent people are highly "unsophisticated" regarding national policy and politics.
Many people—this includes people of all political leanings—don't follow "the news" with great care. In discussions like these, it shows! This can be both instructive and sobering.
That said, "God must have loved the common people, he made so many of them!" (Famous apocryphal quote.) Reading the transcript of this discussion, we'll suggest that you notice how little these people seem to care about the topics which dominate our blue state "cable news."
They don't seem to care about getting Trump locked up:
During this discussion, the moderators never ask about the million-and-one investigations which dominate our blue tribe cable news. But no one in this focus group shows any sign of wanting to voice such concerns.
They don't seem to care about January 6:
Moderator Patrick Healy did ask about January 6. Here's the full text of the (edited) exchange:
(Moderator) Patrick Healy: The anniversary of Jan. 6 was pretty recent. How concerned are you that in the next presidential election there will be some kind of attempt to undermine the election, to change the outcome of the election, violence, or are you not concerned about that?
Jules: I am not concerned. I also did not think that Jan. 6 was remotely the disaster that it’s being made out to be.
Nick: I’m not too concerned. We’ve always had those issues, with chads in Florida. There’s always been questions about what’s been called into our elections and said that they were unfair.
Dickie: I’m only concerned if Trump is running again. I think our elections are safer now than they’ve ever been and more tabulated.
Alice: I’m not concerned. The United States knows how to lock things down.
Our tribe puts tremendous stress on this topic, perhaps for very good reasons. Whatever a person may think about that point of concern, these people don't seem to have heard.
These fourteen people are among the people who show up and vote. The topics on which our corporate stars focus don't seem to be on their radar.
By the same token, our corporate stars show very few signs of caring about average people. On a nightly basis, they maintain an amazingly blinkered, insider discussion—a discussion in which one vastly overpaid insider group wages war on another.
The topics on which our cable stars focus may well be important (or not). But our cable stars seem to care about nothing—and no one—else.
All fourteen of these people voted for Obama at least once. Based on the way they responded to several questions, they don't seem to be tilting that way now.
In the comments sections at our tribe's sites, we routinely call such people names. This has been part of our failing tribe's culture for a very long time now.
It's part of our culture to name-call such people. Disconsolate experts widely say that this isn't going to change.