From NBC's Mark Murray
YORK, PA -- Earlier this morning, we reported on some of the findings of a focus group that was conducted here by Democratic pollster Peter Hart. Below are some more observations from the 12 likely voters (all of whom didn't support Obama or McCain in the April primary) from this important battleground state:
Hillary Clinton. Most of the participants had very positive views of the New York senator, especially the seven of the 12 who supported her in the primary. (Clinton beat Obama in York County, 55%-45%.) Words used to describe her: "personable," "experienced, "so smart," and "great first lady." Kirby, a Democrat who now says he backs Obama, noted that Clinton "knew her way around" Washington and the White House. He also added, "I think it's time for a woman president."
McCain's Age. The participants brought up this subject frequently, particularly when Hart asked them about uncertainties concerning McCain. Kim, who voted for Bush in '04, backed Clinton in the primary and is undecided in the Obama-McCain contest, responded to this question with one word: "age." She even mentioned the possibility of Alzheimer's. Michelle B., who supports Obama, said: "I am looking for somebody younger."
Obama's Race. Near the end of the 2 1/2-hour focus group, Hart asked what the effect would be of having the country's first black president. William, who backs McCain, said the "world will be watching" -- in how whites, blacks, and other races react to it. Janell, the Republican who remains undecided, argued that it shouldn't make a difference (that Obama being elected should have the same impact if a white person was elected to the United States). Tony, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and supports McCain, added: "I think there is still a lot of racism in the country."
When Hart asked whether race was a barrier for Obama, Janell replied that this country needs the best candidate, regardless of color or race. Kirby answered that he's disappointed the topic even comes up, especially given that Obama's multi-racial. Terry, who won't vote for Obama, said she is fearful for the safety of Obama and his wife. "The real world doesn't do well with change." And Charles, the Hillary supporter who said he's backing McCain, said there could be riots if Obama is elected. He was the only person out of the 12 to share that opinion.
The Media. There was one universal opinion at the focus group -- shared by men, women, Republicans, Democrats, Obama supporters, and McCain backers -- the media haven't done a good job covering the election. Susan, a Democrat who's for Obama, talked about the "overkill" of analysis; Charles said there was a pro-Obama bias; and Michelle B. didn't like the constant discussion of race. Kirby put it this way: When you have 24-hour cable news, "there is not that much [else] to talk about."