SUBURBAN WOMEN VOTERS IN IA AND NH WEIGH IN ON OBAMA’S JOB PERFORMANCEMarch 22, 2012
In March of 2012, Resurgent Republic sponsored four focus groups in Des Moines, Iowa and Manchester New Hampshire among Suburban Women who self-identified as Independents, voted for Obama in 2008 and are undecided today. Following are key highlights pertaining to President Obama’s job performance
Both groups personally liked President Obama and give him credit for trying to turn the country around. For the most part these suburban women – all of whom voted for President Obama in 2008 – are reluctant to say anything negative about him but their positive descriptors carried a trace of faint praise. Obama is “doing the best he can,” “trying hard,” and “needs more time.” There was an awareness that the unemployment rate was trending up before President Obama took office, underscoring their belief that he is not the cause of the recession, and that others should be brought into the equation, including Congress and the banking industry. These voters were more likely to believe Obama underestimated the severity of the economic crisis or was a bit naïve in his approach than to outright blame him for the current state of the economy. Yet Obama’s good intentions didn’t convince all these voters, including a Wal-Mart Woman in Des Moines who said, “He jumped in and the water is a little too deep. He had really good points to begin with, he had good ideas, knew what he wanted to do. But with everybody else he had to work with and the obstacles he met, it’s almost like it got over his head.”
Beyond their personal affinity for Obama, these Suburban Women found it difficult to cite reasons why they approve of the President, especially regarding the economy. The most common references of support dealt with national security: the killing of Osama Bin Laden, ending the War in Iraq and bringing troops home. Yet when discussing their pressing concern of the economy, there was hardly any positive reference to policies implemented by the President. Another New Hampshire college-educated women described her feelings this way, “I don’t see any improvement. I don’t think America is back. I think it’s going down…what has he [Obama] done to make this a place to be proud of?” The promise of hope and change has not been realized in the minds of these women, but few directly blamed the President for that realization. However, their expectation of what can really be done is lower than it was four years ago.
The Suburban Women groups expressed their most hesitation with President Obama when considering the totality of economic figures ranging from when he took office to today. After reviewing the “Obama by the Numbers” chart, serious concerns were raised, even in the more Democrat-leaning Des Moines groups. Words like “scary,” “worrisome” and “disheartening” were used, while others said they were speechless. As a college educated woman in Manchester said, it “makes you not want to live in America anymore.” While they didn't fix the blame solely on the President for these numbers, the totality of the data created significant hesitations in how they view the direction of the country and ultimately Obama’s leadership. One of the most significant takeaways from the Manchester groups is when prompted half of the women thought someone else could do better.