Speaking to an audience of around 300 people at an Atlanta fundraiser for the Georgia Republican Party, pollster Frank Luntz said that the thinks Florida’s Marco Rubio has the best shot at winning the Republican presidential primary. That’s a change from late August, when Luntz told a gathering of the Georgia Chamber that Donald Trump might be impossible to take down.
Yet, Luntz spent plenty of time in his talk discussing the leading Republican candidate, first showing a “best of” video of Donald Trump insulting the other Republican in the race, and following up with another video showing many of the insults Trump directed towards women. He made the point that the way candidates (and by extension the party) treat people matters in a presidential campaign, and that Trump’s misogynistic remarks were probably costing the GOP ten points in the polls.
When asked why Donald Trump continued to rank highly with primary voters, Luntz pointed to the intense dislike voters have with politicians in Washington. As a result, Trump becomes the favorite of those most opposed to DC because he is least like what they see there. The way to combat Trump, Luntz said, was to have the other candidates be less formal, to get off of their podiums, and lose their talking points.
Luntz talked about more than the Republican races. For the Democratic presidential primary, the candidate he fears most is Hillary Clinton. He played a video showing a series of quotes used by former president Bill Clinton in this campaigns, followed by Hillary using almost the exact same wording in her campaign; wording that focus group participants using Luntz’s trademark approval / disapproval meter liked very much. Luntz stressed that if Republicans used anger against Hillary, the effort would likely backfire. Instead, he said the GOP should express disappointment and regret about her activities while Secretary of State if they want to convince those on the fence to vote Republican.
While Luntz thinks Hillary is the candidate most likely to win the Democratic nomination, he pointed to the possibility of a strong campaign by Joe Biden, especially if Vice President Biden could appear side by side with Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Senator that many of the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party wishes would run.
During a question and answer session at the end of his talk, Luntz was asked whether he thought Georgia might turn blue during the 2016 election cycle. Not 2016, he said, but 2020 was a possibility. To prevent that, Luntz pointed to diversity, saying the Georgia GOP had to find voters who were different from those attending the banquet. He lauded the strong values held by Republicans in the Peach State compared to what he saw in the northeast. But, he reminded everyone, Georgia can’t take it for granted that there would always be a Republican governor, Republican Senators and Republican Representatives, even though right now the GOP has those seats in its control.