Focus Group: Kasich Irked New Hampshire Voters During Debate

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Ohio Gov. John Kasich tried to get attention by being aggressive in Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate, but a focus group in New Hampshire shows that the Ohio governor particularly rubbed voters the wrong way.

Luntz Global — the firm of public opinion guru Frank Luntz — released a memo Wednesday morning after conducting a focus group of 27 Republican primary voters in Nashua, New Hampshire during the televised debate.

The memo, focusing on six things candidates do that voters dislike, singled out Kasich for particularly irking the voters in the Nashua focus group on both style and substance. It’s especially painful to Kasich considering New Hampshire is the early state his campaign has really focused on.

“Governor Kasich scored the lowest we’ve ever measured in a primary debate when he backed the big bank bailouts,” the Luntz Global memo stated.

During the debate, Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz sparred over the issue. “What would you do if the bank was failing?” Cruz asked Kasich at one point.

“I would not let the people who put their money in there all go down,” Kasich replied.

“So you — you would bail them out,” Cruz said.

“As an executive — no. As an executive, I would figure out how to separate those people who can afford it versus those people, or the hard-working folks who put those money in those institutions,” Kasich said to boos from the audience.

According to the Luntz memo, when Kasich “added that he would ‘separate those people who could afford it,’ our voters exploded.”

“Jeers, catcalls, even profanity … it was a complete rejection not just of his position but of his candidacy,” the memo stated. “The thought that Washington would means test a bailout is absolute poison in a GOP primary.”

The focus group also had issues with Kasich’s style, according to Luntz, especially his repeated attempts to elbow himself into discussions.

“John Kasich couldn’t help himself — interrupting, interjecting, intruding, or worse. According to our voters, he was ‘rude … pushy … he just butted in … he needs to give others a chance to talk, he seems very desperate,'” the memo stated.

“It got so bad for Kasich that after his second interruption in ten minutes, the dials nosedived every other time he spoke,” the Luntz memo said. “Message to candidates: you get one chance to interrupt — wait until it really matters.”

Kasich’s other memorable moment of the night was his lambasting of Republicans who want to deport illegal immigrants, though garnered applause at one point during the discussion.

“If they have been law-abiding, they pay a penalty. They get to stay. We protect the wall. Anybody else comes over, they go back,” Kasich said of illegal immigrants.

“But for the 11 million people, come on, folks,” Kasich added. “We all know you can’t pick them up and ship them across, back across the border. It’s a silly argument. It is not an adult argument. It makes no sense.”

The Daily Caller has reached out to the Kasich campaign for comment.

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