McClatchy DC White House correspondent Alex Roarty said that even in the days following the anniversary of the Capitol Hill riot, a focus group of moderate voters had no real reaction to the mention of “January 6th.”
“Watched 2 focus groups w/moderate voters last night, put on by a liberal group. Moderator asked 1st group (five women) about Jan 6th. Long pause followed, before one of the women asked what he meant. Invoking ‘Jan. 6’ didn’t immediately mean anything, even days after anniversary,” Roarty began a Twitter thread on the subject.
According to Roarty, some clarification and even direct questions about the riot did not steer the female focus group in a direction that was more favorable for Democrats — in fact, it led to several in the group criticizing Democrats for taking the pageantry too far as they commemorated the anniversary of the attack with a Broadway performance, a candlelight vigil, and a moment of silence on the House floor.
“The conversation didn’t get much better from there for Dems, in either focus group,” Roarty explained. “Once the convo got going, it was clear Jan. 6 hadn’t been memory holed by the 1st group. But one woman said flat out it wasn’t she was worried about anymore compared to other concerns. And two others, after agreeing how awful the attack was, said they thought Biden and Democrats had gone too far in the way they talked about last week on the anniversary. One of the women said she thought they had over-embellished it.”
The second focus group, consisting of moderate men, appeared to yield similarly disappointing results as far as Democrats were concerned.
“The 2nd group, this time five moderate men, had a similar reaction (though I’ll include one important caveat later). None of them mentioned Jan 6 when prompted broadly about what news they had been paying attention to lately, mentioning Manchin, Arbery verdict, etc,” Roarty noted, adding, “Later, when asked specifically about how POTUS and Dems marked the anniversary, two men jumped in pretty eagerly to talk about how Biden had made a mistake looking backward instead of trying to move the country forward. They expressed a feeling he had politicized a tragedy.”
“One of the participants would later add that they also resented how reporters who were there personalized their experience,” he continued.
Roarty said that the consensus at the end was that the riot had been terrible and had certainly raised concerns about the future of American democracy — and several agreed that President Biden’s speech recognizing the anniversary had been appropriate — and both groups voiced concern that the people responsible for the attack on the Capitol had not yet been held responsible.
“One man — who was clearly very far from a liberal — said he abandoned the GOP after Jan 6 and thought the way Biden handled the anniversary was fine,” he added. “So people thought what happened on Jan 6 was awful and raised serious questions about the country’s direction. But they didn’t all necessarily connect it with the GOP/Trump.”
Both groups, Roarty said, consisted of “soft Biden voters” who had supported Joe Biden but not former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — or “soft Trump voters” who had supported former President Donald Trump in 2020 but said they regretted doing so.