those who follow me on twitter, facebook or read my more private livejournal (or just know me and talk to me regularly) will recall that i participated in a focus group last week on the issues in the mayor’s race. as i am currently/constantly underemployed, i jump at any chance to make additional money, and a daily look at craigslist has yielded a few focus group/market research type gigs in the past few months. so yes, i was paid to do this. but i don’t think that affected my – or any participant’s – answers, honestly. it was pretty straightforward.
today in new orleans city business, the results of that focus group research were published in an article, with a download link to the full report. in all, 40 randomly selected voters and “opinion makers” were brought together in four different sessions last week, and many commonalities existed between the four groups. the overall theme of the report, based on participants’ responses, is that mayoral candidates are not talking enough, and in enough detail, about the issues that voters think are most important, and are not matching voters’ passion about this election in their presentations at various forums and debates. you can read the article and download the full report for more detail about what folks feel and think – it’s pretty interesting.
for my own part, i tended to agree with the groupthink on most things, which is surprising, as i don’t usually. my particular session’s demographics were evenly divided between white and black, male and female, and with diverse respresentation from various city council districts as well as age. the james perry cheerleader in me often wanted to stand up and disagree with others’ answers to some questions asked, or cite planks of his platform, but we were asked not to refer to specific candidates but instead to speak generally about all of them and the tenor of the campaign thus far. they were trying to get at the issues and our general opinions. so i tried to be as objective as i could, and reel in my pompoms. (i did chat some of the participants up on our way out, however, about james’ merits as a candidate, just for the record.)
the realization that i had was this: that even though i could argue that james and even other candidates have, at times, offered some details for their various campaign platforms and many of the issues cited in the focus group research, or have exhibited a passion that i feel is appropriate to the magnitude of this election at this point in new orleans’ history, the reality is, the rest of the folks in the room weren’t hearing it. and weren’t feeling it. only one out of ten voters (me) was hearing some of what they want to hear in this campaign. so even if james or others think they are getting their message across, something is being lost between point a, the candidates, and point b, the voters.
what to do about? i don’t know. but hopefully something will change in the remaining 18 days before the election. i can only pray that one of my top two candidates – james or mitch – wins, and the electorate realizes what a mistake it would be to vote john georges or troy henry into office.
interesting related links: