“They view everything through their own personal situation and if they can’t afford to do it, they can’t enjoy it, they don’t like Obama using their tax dollars to benefit himself,” said pollster John McLaughlin. “In this case, they see him as out of touch. While they are struggling he’s not sharing in that struggle and he’s basically doing what they can’t do on their tax dollars,” added the GOP pollster.
He and several other top-tier Republican pollsters, organized by Resurgent Republic, traveled to 11 battleground states to host focus groups of independent and swing voters, mostly Democrats, who voted for President Obama in 2008 but who are now on the fence.
McLaughlin handled blue collar and Catholic voters in Pittsburgh on April 3 and Cleveland on March 20. He found that they are very depressed about the economy and feel that their tax dollars are being sucked up by both the rich and those living on government assistance.
During the focus group discussions about debt and spending cuts, many in his group volunteered criticism of the presidential vacations as something that should be cut. Among the lines McLaughlin wrote down was one from a Democratic woman who said, “Michelle Obama spends $1 million to take the kids to Hawaii,” and another who said, “President Obama was the only president to take so many trips.”
The theme, said McLaughlin, is that the first family “is out of touch” with working class voters.
He added that the president’s attack on the rich and GOP presidential challenger Mitt Romney’s wealth is working, but the voters were also lumping in the president’s vacation spending with the General Services Administration’s Las Vegas scandal and federal spending for those who aren’t looking for work.
“There really wasn’t a real dislike for Romney. It was just that he is too rich. But on the other hand there is a start of resentment of the government,” he said. “What surprised me is that these were Democrats back biting on their own president,” added McLaughlin.