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Focus-grouping the State of the Union Address

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One of the fascinating parts of last night's State of the Union Address was watching pollster Frank Luntz conduct a focus group discussion of what the people heard. The most fascinating part of Luntz's focus group discussion centered on President Obama's defense of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Here's a transcript from that exchange:

LUNTZ: So show the American people, how many of you have a favorable impression of the president's health care plan. How many of you have a favorable impression. Just one of you. But you voted for him, some of you?
PANELIST: The promise is great, the execution is miserable.
LUNTZ: So when he talks about it, you still dial it down? Christian.
CHRISTIAN: I echo Michael's point. Execution failed horribly.
UNKNOWN PANELIST: We keep talking about the execution. It was a failure but let's move on. Let's talk about the policy. I have personal experience with this and I can tell you that the policies themselves are horrible. They're double premiums. They're 25-50% higher deductibles and you don't have your doctors in the network that the insurance companies stuck in on the Obamacare plan.
LUNTZ: So you're telling me that it isn't the style, it's the substance of Obamacare?
PANELIST: It's not just the execution. We've found now that we can't keep our own doctor. A lot of the choices have moved. Lots of people's premiums have gone up and nothing is as we expected. We were told we could keep our own plan and now, that's been proven to be an outright lie.

There were 24 people participating in this focus group, many of whom voted for President Obama. While some of the people were willing to give this more time, others were getting impatient.

This isn't good news for Democrats. If people are figuring it out that the health insurance options offered through the Affordable Care Act have expensive premiums and sky-high deductibles, then it's reasonable to think that they'll reject Democrats that voted for the bill.

It's one thing to forgive someone who voted for the bill. It's another to forgive a legislator who voted for a bill that was poorly executed and that was poorly designed.

That's because the rollout is beyond a legislator's control. Something that was poorly designed is different because legislators are the designers. They can't blame that on President Obama. That's something they'll have to take the blame for.



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