Luntz's focus groups were told that Palin "stopp[ed] a bridge to nowhere," but apparently not that she previously supported it

››› ››› LILY YAN

On The O'Reilly Factor, pollster Frank Luntz stated of his discussions of Gov. Sarah Palin "with groups of independents here in Minneapolis": "[A]s the discussion goes on, they start to turn negative until they hear about her stopping a bridge to nowhere." However, Palin reportedly supported the proposal to build a bridge between Ketchikan, Alaska, and Gravina Island and suggested that Alaska's congressional delegation should continue to try to procure funding for the project. Luntz gave no indication that his focus group participants were told about Palin's prior support for the bridge.

On the September 2 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, pollster Frank Luntz stated of his discussions of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin "with groups of independents here in Minneapolis": "[A]s the discussion goes on, they start to turn negative until they hear about her stopping a bridge to nowhere." Luntz later added: "What they're looking for in a vice president is that same kind of maverick zeal that John McCain has." Host Bill O'Reilly later asserted, "So you present the full package to them about -- but you roll it out," to which Luntz responded: "Right." However, Luntz did not mention that, as Media Matters for America has noted, during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign, Palin reportedly supported the proposal to build a bridge between Ketchikan, Alaska, and Gravina Island and suggested that Alaska's congressional delegation should continue to try to procure funding for the project. Nor did Luntz give any indication that as part of the "full package," focus group participants were told about Palin's prior support for the bridge.

After reportedly expressing support for the bridge in a September 21, 2007, press release, Palin specifically cited the unwillingness of Congress to provide sufficient funds for the project -- "[d]espite the work of our congressional delegation" -- in explaining why she had "directed the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to look for the most fiscally responsible alternative for access to the Ketchikan airport and Gravina Island instead of proceeding any further with the proposed $398 million bridge":

"Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport, but the $398 million bridge is not the answer," said Governor Palin. "Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329 million short of full funding for the bridge project, and it's clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island," Governor Palin added. "Much of the public's attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here. But we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened."

From the September 2 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: "Impact" segment tonight: The prime-time speakers here at the convention this evening are former Senator Fred Thompson, current Senator Joseph Lieberman, and President Bush will be speaking by satellite. But what everybody continues to talk about, obviously, is Sarah Palin. With us now, Dr. Frank Luntz, who has done some research among Independent voters on the governor. All right, set us up. They make the announcement last week. And then what did you do?

LUNTZ: I've had the opportunity to have several conversations with groups of Independents here in Minneapolis. And it is fascinating to watch them react as they learn more and more about her. The first step is her background.

O'REILLY: Now, do you show them tape?

LUNTZ: We show them tape. We even show them the ad that Senator Obama ran against her right when she was selected. And they discuss it.

O'REILLY: Right.

LUNTZ: And the first aspect of that discussion is her background. And that's where she seems to fall a little bit short. Voters look at that she was mayor. And they see that she was governor. And they don't think that that holds a candle to Joe Biden. And as the discussion goes on, they start to turn negative until they hear about her stopping a bridge to nowhere. They hear about her challenging a sitting governor, defeating him. Having an 80 percent job approval rating because she takes on the power. What they're looking for in a vice president is that same kind of maverick zeal that John McCain has.

O'REILLY: These are the independents.

LUNTZ: These are the independents, but these are the undecided voters, the floating voters.

O'REILLY: Right.

LUNTZ: And it's only about 12 percent of the country.

O'REILLY: Right.

LUNTZ: They're the ones who are going to make up the decision. They're going to make up who wins this election.

O'REILLY: No doubt. So you present the full package to them about -- but you roll it out.

LUNTZ: Right.

O'REILLY: You know, they can't absorb it all at once. So you start with here she is, this, that and the other. So it starts negative -- like do you that time line thing on the chart. So it starts kind of negative and then it builds as soon as the reformer comes in, the corrupt -- fighting the corruption and all of that.

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Frank Luntz, Sarah Palin
Show/Publication
The O'Reilly Factor
Stories/Interests
2008 Elections
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