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Focus group gives Obama high marks

From NBC's Lauren Appelbaum
President Obama received high marks at various points in his speech to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night from a focus group in King of Prussia, Pa., conducted by MSNBC's Tamron Hall.

Thirty-two people, including 16 Obama voters and 15 McCain voters, participated by turning dials from 1 to 10 (10 being the highest) to grade parts of the speech.

Video: Tamron Hall shares which parts of the speech stood out to the focus group.
 
When Obama spoke about the economy, reactions from both sets of voters jumped from 5, the beginning default, to between 8 and 9. But when Obama mentioned that the economic recovery act is now law, McCain voters' reaction dipped slightly, hovering between 7 and 8, while the Obama voters' reactions stayed closer to nine.

Shortly after, though, the McCain voters' reactions steadied around 8. Obama voters' reactions held between 8.5 and 9.5.
 
McCain voters' reactions fell below 7 for the first time 20 minutes in when Obama said he would hold Wall Street and banks accountable. But when Obama said his -- and Congress' -- job was to solve the problem, even if it meant helping banks, the McCain voters' reaction jumped up close to 9. Obama voters' reaction was also about 9.

"It's not about helping banks," Obama said to growing applause. "It's about helping people."
 
During the conversation on health care, both voters' reactions remained high, with Obama voters' reactions slightly above the 9 line and the McCain voters' reactions around 8. In Obama's last line on the subject -- "So let there be no doubt: health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year" -- both groups of voters stayed between 8 and 9.5.
 
When Obama began speaking about education, the McCain voters' reaction (9) was higher than the Obama voters' reaction (8).

"It will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education, from the day they are born to the day they begin a career," Obama said.

Both groups remained above 8 for the rest of Obama's discussion about education, including his line about expanding their commitment to charters schools.
 
The McCain voters' reaction jumped to close to 10, when Obama said, "I speak to you not just as a president, but as a father when I say that responsibility for our children's education must begin at home."

And then going off of prepared remarks, "That is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. That is an American issue."
 
The reaction remained at that level when Obama began talking about the national debt.

"There is, of course, another responsibility we have to our children," he said. "That's the responsibility to ensure that we do not pass on to them a debt they cannot pay."
 
The McCain voters' reactions continued to remain at that level while Obama joked, "See, I know we can get some consensus in here."
 
The reaction went down to slightly above 8 when Obama made a slight dig at the Bush administration.

"With the deficit we inherited," Obama said to loud applause from some Democrats, "the cost of the crisis we face, and the long-term challenges we must meet, it has never been more important to ensure that as our economy recovers, we do what it takes to bring this deficit down."
 
When Obama promised that taxes would not be raised "one single dime" for families earning less than $250,000 a year, the Obama voters' reactions reached the 10 mark and the McCain voters' reaction was above the 9 mark.
 
On the Iraq war, both Obama and McCain voters' reactions were around 9 when Obama said it was time to responsibly end the war. And in the crowd at the speech, McCain stood and applauded the president. The McCain voters' reaction then reached 10 when Obama pledged his "unyielding support" to our troops and again when he promised to raise soldiers' pay and give veterans "the expanded health care and benefits that they have earned."

But when Obama discussed his order to close Guantanamo, the McCain voters' reaction dropped to between 7 and 8 -- even though McCain, himself, advocated for closing the facility.
 
Overall, Obama stayed on the high positive side for both sets of voters; reactions were similar throughout the speech.
 
During Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's Republican Response, partisan differences became more apparent. McCain voters' reaction remained between 6 and 9 during the majority of Jindal's speech.

The reaction of the Obama voters, however, fluctuated between 4 and 7.