As we painfully learned during the Republican presidential primary battles, Donald Trump supporters didn’t care what Trump said. They didn’t care about The Donald’s disparaging anti-immigrant comments, his anti-Muslim refugee comments, nor even his misogynistic comments belittling women. As trump audaciously put it seven months ago:
You know what else they say about my people? The polls, they say I have the most loyal people. Did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s like incredible.
Last Sunday during a Frank Luntz focus group, which was broadcast on “Face the Nation,” we saw evidence that Trump’s supporters finally seem to care what the bombastic billionaire says. Almost all of the participants in the focus group at least leaned toward Trump at some point in the presidential campaign. Now only six out of 23 of them are supporting him. The reason for the declining support is because of what Trump says and how he says it.
The focus group complains that Trump speaks without thinking, is running as a 12 year old, changes his positions every news cycle, is not the kind of person they want to handle the nuclear codes, and the more Trump makes it about his personality the less likely they are to vote for him.
The focus group participants could be persuaded to vote for him. To win the votes of the focus group Trump must get back to the issues and solve problems, stop attacking people, offer leadership and inspiration, and put his best foot forward like a job interview. You can watch the video of the focus group below:
Transcript of the video:
MARIE M: …He was my first choice. But just along the way, he has — I guess I can say he’s lost me. I’m not saying there’s no chance of turning but he’s become outrageous. I mean, we all have thoughts, but I think he speaks without thinking.
MICHAEL R: …When he initially began to run, he gave voice to a lot of the frustrations that I was feeling about how government is working or more to the point not working. But since then, he’s been running as a 12 year old and changes his positions every news cycle, so you don’t even know where he stands on the issues.
DEBBIE M-K: I almost think the last couple of weeks, he might be second-guessing this, because he even said yet like a week ago, “it’s okay if I’m not the president.” And then he’s just throwing out all of these bizarre comments. So I’m wondering: is he serious still about it?
HOWARD E: …Whenever somebody makes a derogatory comment to him, like in a democratic convention, Trump feels like he needs to attack that person. And he says things that are crazy. And I keep asking myself: is this the kind of person I want to handle the nuclear codes?
LUNTZ: And what’s the answer?
HOWARD E: No way.
BILL C: …I think the traction that he first got was because of the issues that he chose to focus on. I think he didn’t realize that it was his issues that were drawing people. His personality, sure, I mean everyone knows Donald Trump and he’s flamboyant. But the more he made it about his personality, the less likely that I am to vote for him and it seems like everyone else is going in the same direction here, who started out as Trump but has moved away. Now, the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen kind of a pivot back to the issues, and that gives me a little bit more hope for him. But he yo-yo’d back and forth so many times I need to see a little bit more.
FRANK LUNTZ: …How many of you would consider, would still consider voting for him in the fall? Raise your hands if it’s a possibility for you.
…So more than half of you. So what does he have to do?
SHARON J: He’s got to get back to the issues, and solve the problems. You know…
FRANK LUNTZ: No, he can’t solve it. He’s running for president. He can’t do anything.
SHARON J: Not solve it, but he’s got to at least give us a plan of what he — some kind of plan of action of what he would like to do.
FRANK LUNTZ: He’s already done the economic plan, he’s already done a national security plan. What do you want?
SHARON J: I want him to talk more about that and stop attacking people and acting erratic…
MICHAEL A: …I think we’re looking for leadership that inspires all of us to be greater than ourselves. So I’m looking for the things that he says that are scripted, even the Teleprompter that he makes fun of but now he uses. But also the unscripted things like the debates, and let’s see how he reacts under pressure when he has to — one on one with Hillary.
MANTEL F: He’s so busy focusing on what he wants to say and trying to, I guess, impress people. And I think right now we’re not looking — I think initially, being authentic was great, but now he’s being a little too authentic. Now he’s giving us too much of himself. He needs to pull back a little bit…
FRANK LUNTZ: …Don’t you think you have the right to know who he really is?
MANTEL F: Yes, you do have the right to know that. But I think no one gives you 100% of themselves, especially at this stage.
FRANK LUNTZ: But don’t you want 100%? Don’t you want…
JANICE K: I want his best foot forward. It’s a job interview. This is not how you would behave when you’re going to a job interview, by throwing tantrums and calling the interviewer names. Or the other applicants.
FRANK LUNTZ: …How can you have such a negative impression of him and still consider casting your ballot for him? Please explain it.
MICHELE C: Because the other candidate is unfavorable in my estimation and I don’t have another choice and I don’t want to give up my vote, because I think that it would be worse not to vote.
MICHAEL A: …We’re now to the point where the showmanship is over. We want to see some policy details. We want to see that you have a staff, that you’re going to have a Cabinet. I think those are important choices. Because a president is not by himself. A president is led by a lot of good advisors. I haven’t seen any good advisors yet.
MARIE M: …The party is voting against — or doesn’t want him to be nominated. You know–
FRANK LUNTZ: You think the Republicans are against him?
MARIE M: Yes, the Republicans. I mean his own party is not, you know, totally supporting him.
FRANK LUNTZ: And why do you think that this?
MARIE M: Because of his outrageousness. I think they find it embarrassing.
FRANK LUNTZ: Do you?
MARIE M: At times, yes, because it’s hard to comprehend…for me, it’s hard to understand also with all of this going on and all the negative feedback why his team isn’t reeling him in or explaining to him the damage that he is doing by the way he’s acting.