Thursday, July 29, 2004

Pollster tunes in to local voices



By Gregory Korte
Enquirer staff writer

[photo]
Polllster Frank I. Luntz with his focus group of 20 swing voters Wednesday at the Millennium Hotel in downtown Cincinnati.
The Enquirer/ERNEST COLEMAN
Nationally known pollster Frank I. Luntz didn't have to wait to figure out what Cincinnati's undecided voters thought of Sen. John Edwards' speech to the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night. He could read their minds even as Edwards spoke.

Luntz gave 20 Cincinnati-area swing voters hand-held dials to register their relative pleasure - or displeasure - with the vice presidential nominee's message. He'll do the same tonight for Sen. John Kerry's speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president.

Cable channel MSNBC sponsored the focus group and talked to the Cincinnati voters via satellite after Edwards' speech.

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Why Cincinnati? First, it's in the most hard-fought of battleground states. Luntz also conducted similar focus groups here during the 2000 campaign.

It's a quirk of a deeply divided electorate in a poll-driven campaign: The fewer opinions people have about this year's presidential race, the more everyone wants to know their opinions.

That's putting Ohio's undecided voters under a national microscope.

Luntz, considered a focus-group guru in Washington, has done extensive work for Republican candidates around the country and is considered a pioneer in cutting-edge focus-group techniques.

In 2000, Luntz conducted a similar group from Cincinnati during a Bush-Gore debate.

It was from that group of 36 voters - Democrats, Republicans and independents - that Luntz declared Bush the winner of the debate, helping set the conventional wisdom that Bush "clearly outperformed what they were expecting."

Bush went on to win Ohio by 3.6 percentage points.

E-mail gkorte@enquirer.com




2004 DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION
Edwards: 'We choose hope over despair'
Pollster tunes in to local voices
Sharpton, Kucinich join fold
Edwards' wife describes his rise
Kerry won't neglect Ohio
Kerry needs to prove he can lead the nation
McConnell calls attacks 'vile'
Prime-time speakers tonight
Ky. Takes Back Seat To Ohio
'Kerry parties' number 20 here
Gannett News Service convention coverage
Enquirer's election section

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