Insights from Our Focus Group

Our focus group declared Bernie Sanders the winner of the January 17 Democratic Debate. We asked members of our focus group for insights into their decision making process. Here’s a selection of their responses:

Bernie effectively attacked Clinton for her ties to Wall Street, making her seem compromised from all the money she’s taken from them. He took the high road several times, particularly when asked about the behavior of Bill Clinton. I think he won himself more fans tonight.

It seemed like Bernie was the frontrunner, brushing off attacks from Hillary. He was at his strongest when he was discussing health care, and it’s clear that he has a lot of momentum that Hillary is looking to quash, based on his surging poll numbers and how he’s faring with the youth vote.

Hillary’s attacks on Bernie’s healthcare proposals came across as calculated and disingenuous. Bernie had a strong defense, that he helped write Obamacare and fully supports it.

The whole debate seemed to revolve around Bernie: what he said, what he proposed, what he thinks about so and so. For voters only tuning in now, that plays to his advantage.

Sanders has really improved his fluency on foreign affairs, which was a weak point for him in the past. Although Clinton sounds more knowledgeable overall, it’s less of an advantage for her now, especially since Sanders can always bring back up the Iraq thing.

Even though much of the debate revolved around issues that Sanders has emphasized prominently throughout his campaign, I think Clinton was effectively able to rebut his arguments, and made her own stance sound more pragmatic and effective in contrast.

I think O’Malley’s chances improved the most because he was able to make pertinent points, and drew on his record as governor in a few key instances that bolstered his credibility. More importantly, though, he had nowhere to go but up. He probably gained a few percentage points in likelihood, but still sits far behind Clinton or Sanders.

Thanks again to our focus group for their help!


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