Last night, veteran Democratic pollster Peter Hart conducted a focus group featuring 12 undecided, ticket-splitting voters in Colorado, which illustrated the tough challenge President Obama faces in winning a second term. He's lost significant ground among these swing voters: Ten of the participants voted for Obama in 2008; only three of them said they leaned towards re-electing him in 2012. In an initial survey taking leaners into account, Mitt Romney led Obama 5-3, with four completely undecided.
Listening to the feedback from the group, it was striking how many of them have grown disillusioned from their own expectations set by Obama's soaring rhetoric from 2008, and the less-inspiring reality that transpired.
After being shown footage of a campaign speech by Obama, the prevailing sentiment was that the president was a slick salesman, but his words didn't match his actions.
"I got duped. I fell under his spell. What he's done with the car industry is the only real success," said Patrick Allen, a 27-year-old health care consultant, who voted for Obama in 2008. "I feel like I was somewhat lied to."
"He came in as a wild card... I haven't seen him do anything extraordinary," said Kelly Capra, 49, a United Airlines customer service representative who said she'd vote for him if he "could do something huge, like really lower the price of gas."
Most believed the economy was slowly improving, but not at a fast enough pace for them to justify supporting him again. And several expressed concern that the economy could again head into a freefall, opinions shaped by the pessimistic economic reports in recent weeks.