Walmart Moms and the Koch brothers

by | Oct 22, 2014 | 2014 Elections, Editor's Blog, US Senate | 5 comments

After almost $100 million in ads running for a solid year, recent polls show about 5% of North Carolina voters are still undecided. Who the hell are these people? Well, on Monday night I got a glimpse of some. Watching a Walmart Moms focus group gave insight into how one segment of those undecided voters think.

They are very low-information voters. When asked to name a member of Congress besides Hagan, they struggled to find a name until someone mentioned Nancy Pelosi. The names Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell didn’t really ring much of a bell.

They are much more concerned about Ebola than they are about ISIS. They think the CDC dropped the ball but they don’t really blame the president. In fact, while they are disappointed in Obama, they don’t harbor strong feelings towards him and don’t seem to blame him for the state of the country. They think Congress is much more of a mess.

They believe there is too much money in politics and that most politicians don’t fully grasp the challenges facing families like theirs. They don’t see a lot of difference in the two parties when it comes to money. Both sides are cutting deals behind the scenes.

And that explains why the Koch brother strategy never took hold. While the Walmart Moms believe the rich and powerful have a disproportionate amount of influence, they don’t blame the Republicans for rigging the system. They blame politicians in general.

So the Koch brothers only offered half of the equation. The other half should have been the fire-breathing populists who would stand up for the little guys and take on the banks and corporations who are screwing them. For the Koch brothers strategy to be successful, Democrats needed villains AND heroes. They only offered the bad guys.

Given their level of attention to politics, the Walmart Moms probably don’t know who the Koch brothers are anyway. They couldn’t tell much about either Kay Hagan or Thom Tillis. They knew that Hagan votes with the president, but since they aren’t that mad at Obama, that doesn’t carry much punch. They knew that she “missed a vote” to attend a fundraiser and that was about it. They couldn’t remember anything that Hagan has said about Tillis.

Almost all were undecided in the Senate election. When pushed to vote, they split 5-5. Unless something dramatic happens in the next two weeks that directly affects their lives, these voters probably won’t have much influence on the outcome on November 4. They reinforced my notion that the electorate is pretty locked in going down the stretch.


  1. Russell Scott Day

    In the emails I get requesting my vote, asking for money, asking for me to show up at a fundraiser I was disturbed that I didn’t have much information. I suggesting to Graig Meyers that there be some information about who, and why to vote for them included in the requests for support, and money.
    He wrote back with a link to the Democratic Party website, where there is information, so I downloaded it and have looked it over.
    Still, I feel that Democrats often are very reactionary, protesting and voting against the rapacious anti egalitarianism we know produces a more just society, without really pushing hard for things like renewables we so desperately need to bring online.
    With so many of us as renters, something like Solar isn’t even something we can do to the places we live in, and must be made attractive to landlords. Locally it’s not like I can buy an energy package from the local hardware store.
    Blew me away that the neighbors of the local old lady who wanted to have a solar farm put in was stopped because the neighbors wanted to look at cows, or grass and cows she was in no way capable of taking care of.
    Well, I don’t know, it’s a good thing for Dems the Republicans have abandoned the people, since otherwise I’d be forced to vote for them since Dems don’t seem to know how to help create any business friendly sort of atmosphere with any balance and they don’t want to look at change anymore than Republicans.

    • Allison Mahaley

      I think the Dems are afraid of appearing too socialist or too liberal and splitting the party the way the Tea Party has split Rebublicabs. EIizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are the only ones in office who are willing to speak truth to power and lay out the need for financial and business regulation and political reform.

      • Greg Dail

        Even by your definition of power it’s obvious that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders just want to replace power of one sort with power of another. Tell you what, let’s take government out of the equation, choose freedom both economic and political, and see what happens. I’ll bet that “social justice” and “economic democracy” will come closer to realization than anything these two Senators may come up with. After all, their way has been tried to death and it NEVER works…unless you’re a Senator.

  2. Bob Geary

    Remember, these women were screened as likely voters. Think of the people — half the eligible population — who won’t vote. Why? Because neither party tells them anything they care about. Dems, especially, who supposedly are on their side, do a lousy job of explaining how.

    • Janet Elbetri

      Bob, you nailed it. I love what you say here.

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