Wednesday, May 20, 2015

When criticizing Hillary Clinton becomes a sport

By Richard Barry

Yeah, I came for the 50 bucks and a place to nap.

Focus groups are very important. They can give us a deeper dive on voters' thought processes, maybe help us better understand which impressions are sticking and which are more ephemeral, perhaps even give us some insight into the emotions behind people's preference. But a focus group is not a poll, and to headline a story, as Bloomberg Politics does, by saying Iowa Democrats believe a "flawed Hillary Clinton" is their "only hope" is just a little misleading considering only 10 people were spoken to and, in any case, that's not at all what they said.

In fact, as I read the responses from the focus group participants, which you can do for yourself, I find that the most consistent impression is that Hillary Clinton is a very accomplished and capable individual who has been around a long time and, as a result, has some baggage.

For elected officials, incumbency is usually seen as a great strength on the path to reelection. But having been around a while also means you have had more chances to screw up or annoy people. In any case, a high profile is a double edged sword, and we are seeing that in aces with Mrs. Clinton.

Is she perfect? No. Is she going to be attacked relentlessly by her political enemies. Yes. Will she always handle those attacks well? No. Are there some real problems with her past? Yes. But to read this headline you would think that this group of 10 Iowans are mortified that Hillary is the only credible candidate running for the Democratic nomination, which couldn't be less true. 

Overall, they seem pleased.

And, oh yeah. At the very end of the story is this gem: "Qualitative research results cannot be statistically analyzed or projected onto the broader population at large." 

Thanks for the warning. Now if you could have a chat with your headline writer...


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  • It's silly. Any politician who isn't "flawed" is a politician you don't know enough about. As you know, I really like Sanders, but we disagree on a lot of things. But again, this comes back to the narrative that the press has decided for Clinton. Of course, it is better than the narrative they've decided for Sanders, "Socialist; not worth talking about."

    By Blogger Frank Moraes, at 5:39 PM  

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