Focus group declares ‘winner’ of GOP debate; but there’s a catch

A Texas focus group weighed in on Thursday’s Republican presidential debate and chose Marco Rubio as the winner.

However, Rubio’s strong performance in the debate did not appear to sway the voters to vote for him over Donald Trump.

Following the GOP debate, pollster Frank Luntz spoke with the Republican primary voters in a segment on Fox News’ “The Kelly File” Thursday. “Why is Trump dominating the conversation?” Luntz asked the voters after they picked Rubio as the night’s strongest performer.

“I think the reason we’re talking about Trump is because he’s somebody who’s accomplished something, versus just an orator,” one voter said, explaining why Rubio’s debate win did not mean much. “Maybe Rubio was the best orator tonight … but can he accomplish things?”

“Rubio’s a great orator,” another voter said. “It was like student council tonight. But didn’t we just elect an orator twice in a row. How do you feel about that?”

Many in the group spoke over each other in the lively exchange, pointing to the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses in the debate. Some saw Trump’s performance slide as he was “zinged” by Rubio several times.

“This was the first debate where they’ve actually talked about policy issues, and Trump did not look like he belonged on that stage,” said one man in the group.

They continued to point out examples of Rubio’s strong performance, but the discussion seemed to center around Trump.

“Rubio is charming,” said one woman. “He’s got a little boyish face, he comes across as just that all-American boy. And that’s what he did … He zinged Trump several times.”

“He didn’t seem like a mechanical robot, like he usually does when he comes on,” said one voter. “This time he was more personable, you know it was snap snap snap, it wasn’t something he memorized. It didn’t appear that way.”

Watch the segment on the video below.


Frieda Powers


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