New Hampshire Democratic Primary Voters vs. the Establishment

Blue Cross Blue Shield’s praise of Hillary Clinton’s health care plan, days before the New Hampshire primary (discussed yesterday) can now be clearly shown as counterproductive to Hillary Clinton.

The weekend Democratic debate was focus-grouped (if it is not a word, you know what I mean) by Frank Luntz for FOX News. As usual, Frank does a great job of getting the voters to say what they are really thinking.

The results of his focus group findings, among undecided Democratic voters in New Hampshire were that Senator Obama walked away with about 90% of the undecideds.

Why? The main reason is that these undecided voters see Hillary as the establishment. And they do not trust the establishment.

Cue the video.

Who won the change argument in the Democratic debate? Overwhelmingly the undecideds said Obama.

The voters admired Obama’s “coolness under fire” and said that Hillary “seemed to crack,” was “dogmatic” and was “angry” almost “vicious.” Another said: “she got on the defensive and stayed on the defensive, and she did not need to be.”

Having watched the debate, I admit, I do not get it. Obama did not give specifics, but Clinton did. But the audience did not hear her.

In fact, most of the undecideds in the room used to support Hillary, and now are undecided.

What happened? One participant said, “If you do not agree with her. She gets very upset. She just hates to be questioned.”

But the overall attitude, as summed up by two women and one man, is a indictment of the establishment:

Late middle aged woman: “We’ve had eight years of not trusting our government. She’s no different. I can’t trust her. I want to try and trust her. Every time she opens her mouth lately its things that come out that I don’t trust.”

One woman tries to defend Hillary Clinton and Luntz picks up on it and says “Hillary makes the point it is one thing to wish for change, it is another thing to make it happen. Isn’t that a fair challenge against Obama?”

Middle aged woman, undecided New Hampshire voter responds: “It is absolutely fair because she’s been in it. And I do believe she is trying to make some change in there. But we have this negative attitude overall to anyone that’s in.”

Younger middle aged man: “It sounds good but she is the establishment. She does not represent change for me.”

Then in wrap up, Luntz asks who won the change message, and 8 or 9 to 1 — the voters picked Obama.

It is for the exact reasons captured by the focus group that the nice things Blue Cross Blue Shield (as establishment and blue chip as it gets in health insurance) did Senator Clinton no favors by praising her plan.

If you are reading this and you think you might, possibly, could be considered to be (maybe) part of the establishment, then I’d watch this clip again. The people in the Luntz focus group are not radical left-wingers (by definition, an undecided voter is not a radical).  The people in the Luntz focus group are normal looking, articulate Americans.

What does this clip of the Luntz focus group have to do with the future of health care reform in the United States and HSAs? A whole lot.

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