I don’t care much for Frank Luntz and his live focus group shows following debates. The “ordinary Americans” who populate the audience echo points made by some famous pundit or another, turning the focus group into an exercise in sophistry.
But even without focus groups, he’s a lousy political analyst.
Republican nominee Donald Trump may have outscored his fellow candidates in talk-time during Thursday night’s GOP primary debate, but Republican strategist and CBS News contributor Frank Luntz said he saw the “destruction of a candidacy.”
“Trump was the number one person walking into that debate. Almost all of his supporters (of the focus group) abandoned him because of what he said,” Luntz said Friday on “CBS This Morning.”
Trump’s stand-out remarks included his response to Fox News host and debate moderator Megyn Kelly about comments he’s made in reference to women as “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals,” and his insistance to not necessarily support another GOP nominee.
“When you’re talking about a Republican presidential nomination, when these people want to defeat Hillary Clinton. That’s not the language, that’s not the strategy, that’s just not what they want to hear,” Luntz said.
Luntz gathered a group of Ohioans to watch the debate and used dials to register whether they liked or disliked what they were hearing.
“Make no mistakes, his popularity may even go up slightly, but the negativity around him — because in the end you still have to be liked by the majority of Republicans to get the nomination,” Luntz said.
Heh. How’s that for hedging your bets? His candidacy is destroyed, but his popularity may go up?
Trump isn’t going anywhere. His supporters don’t care about the “negativity.” In fact, that’s what they love about him. Trump could commit cold-blooded murder on national TV and his support would remain pretty much where it is.
I don’t know what Trump’s bottom is, but I suspect it’s between 10-20%. In a 17-candidate field, that puts him at or near the top of the heap. We’ll see what happens when the thinning out process gets underway, but as Trump has a fairly high bottom, he’s probably got a low ceiling as well.
Luntz is engaging in some wishful thinking when he predicts Trump’s demise. A Tweet by The Donald after the debate cuts Luntz down to size.
.@FrankLuntz, your so-called “focus groups” are a total joke. Don’t come to my office looking for business again. You are a clown!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2015
“I’ve been called a lot of things in my life but I’ve never been called a clown and those focus groups are accurate,” Luntz said. Trust me, Frank. You’ve been called a clown before. It’s just that you weren’t listening.