‘National Focus Group’ Claim: Half Of Americans Agree With Carter About Bush

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

A bare majority of Americans agree with former President Jimmy Carter’s assertion — which he later claimed was “careless or misinterpreted” — that President George W. Bush’s administration is the “worst in history.”

That’s the conclusion of a “national focus group” among 303 Americans conducted Monday and Tuesday by a marketing research firm.

The group, picked from a pool of 25,000 people who have volunteered to respond to Internet surveys by Flemington, N.J.-based HCD Research, was shown a segment of Carter’s interview on NBC’s “Today Show” Monday. In that interview, Carter distances himself from statements he made about Bush to Frank Lockwood, religon editor of The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which published the remarks Saturday.

Among the most controversial in the Democrat-Gazette interview was this declaration: “I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history.”

While viewing the “Today Show” clip, the focus group participants indicated the believability of what they were hearing by moving their mouses from left to right on a continuum.

After viewing the segment, HCD Research said, 51% of all respondents indicated that they agreed with Carter’s comments about the Bush administration.

Among those who reported they were Democrats, 86% agreed with Carter’s statement. Among Republicans, 19% agreed, and among Independents, 48% agreed with the former president.

A spokesperson for HCD Research, Vince McGourty, said there is no established margin of error for a focus group such as this. “This was more or less an overnight thing to get, for lack of a better phrase, the ‘pulse’ of the American people,” he said.

An audio recording of the original interview posted on the Democrat-Gazette’s Web site, and Lockwood’s blog contradicts the former president’s “Today Show” explanation of what he was asked, and what he answered.

The “believability curves” of the HCD Research participants, and other detailed results are available on its Media Curves Web site, www.mediacurves.com.

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