Videotapes of the two sessions were presented to a group of reporters in Washington on Thursday.
The focus group organizers – Momentum Analysis and the Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies – showed the women clips from Obama’s speech and then solicited comments. When asked if Washington politicians understand their lives, the answer was a resounding “no.”
“There’s a certain amount of isolation,” said Maggie L., a homemaker from Kansas City. “Even the good people get sucked in.”
The women described members of Congress as living lives of luxury, while average folks like them are barely getting by.
One woman described her family’s decision to walk away from their mortgage and into a rental to save money. Others spoke about the cost of gas, bread, and health insurance. Eating out is rare.
But life is not joyless: Instead of going out, one said, cooking dinner and watching a movie together at home can be just as fun.
Still, even if these women are, on average, hopeful about their families, they’re less optimistic about Washington. Few see an end to the partisan gridlock anytime soon. But eventually, a few said, there will be a breakthrough.
“Some things have to get done,” said Katie M., a resource manager and mother of three from Philadelphia, listing taxes and guns as areas for potential progress.
Jackie A., a consultant from Philadelphia with one child, predicts Congress will act on immigration, because of the last election. “It’s all about numbers,” she says, perhaps alluding to Republican Mitt Romney’s poor performance among Latino voters.