No Fear-Based Stampede to GOP

This afternoon Greg Sargent pays some extra attention to bipartisan focus groups conducted among women with children in Louisiana and North Carolina, the kind of voters you’d figure would be the prime targets of fear-based “security mom” appeals from the GOP exploiting media panic over IS and Eblola:

Two new focus groups of so-called “Walmart moms” — conducted by Republican pollster Neil Newhouse and Democratic pollster Margie Omero — shed a bit of light on this question.

The focus groups of Walmart moms — described as “voters with children age 18 or younger at home” who “shopped at Walmart at last once in the past month” — were conducted in Charlotte, NC, and New Orleans, LA. According to the pollsters, these are selected as proven swing voters.

In a memo about the focus groups, Newhouse and Romero write that “Ebola has replaced ISIS as a worry about instability and government leadership.” But it is not a factor in their vote:

In our early September focus groups, ISIS was a dominant concern. It has almost been completely replaced by worries about Ebola…but they do not necessarily feel it is an imminent threat — that is, this is more of a threat to the country, not to them personally.

The CDC — somewhat more than Obama — takes most of the blame, for being “too relaxed” and unprepared. While Ebola is certainly lessening moms’ confidence in government, not one cites it as a reason to vote against (or for) Democrats in November.

So ISIS is out, and Ebola is in. But Ebola is not driving their vote. Still, it could be feeding a generalized distrust of government competence, in keeping with the overarching GOP strategy here.

Greg goes on to note that this summer’s “border crisis” may have done more damage to Democratic prospects than the current freakouts. But all in all, while these voters are in a heightened state of concern, it’s not like they are stampeding to Bill Cassidy or Thom Tillis for Big Daddy protection, at the expense of votes for two women already serving in the Senate.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.