Top Five Dial Testing Takeaways from Pennsylvania Swing Voters

Dialsmith is the technology partner and dial testing services provider for the Swing Voter Project—an ongoing, national study being conducted by Engagious and Focus Pointe Global. The project features monthly focus groups set in key battleground districts across the Midwest and Florida. The first group was conducted this past March with new groups to be held every month through the 2020 Election. Full summary reports and video clips from each group can be found on the Swing Voter Project page, but if you want to know what the top dial testing takeaways from the most recent swing voter focus group, you’ve come to the right place.

Our latest stop on our swing voter focus group road tour took us to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania—in the swing district of Luzerne County, which voted for Obama in 2012 but swung to Trump in the 2016 by a 20 percent margin. The Wilkes-Barre focus group was made up of 11 participants, all of whom voted for Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016. Participants were asked a series of scale-based, and discreet choice questions using our Perception Analyzer dials. Given the make-up of the group, the dial testing revealed some expected results as well as a few surprises. Here are our top takeaways:

Takeaway #1: These Swing Voters Back Trump on Iran

Dial testing results from our swing voter group shows solid support for the president’s airstrike order that killed Iranian General Qassem Suleimani. When asked about their support for the president’s decision, the group responded with an average dial score of 7.9 on a scale of zero (“totally oppose”) to ten (“totally support”). Additionally, the group indicated that the president’s decision would make them more likely to vote for him in November, scoring it a 6.9 on a scale of zero (“much less likely to vote for President Trump in November”) to ten (“much more likely to vote for President Trump in November”).

Takeaway #2: Trump Did Wrong But Shouldn’t Be Impeached

The impeachment proceedings were of course a main topic we covered with our swing voter group. Through their dials, they indicated an acknowledgment of wrongdoing by the President but they are strongly against impeaching him and removing him from office. We ran through a series of statements regarding impeachment and asked them to use their dials to rate their level of agreement with the statement. The scale was from zero (“totally disagree”) to ten (“totally agree”). Here were the key statements and average dial scores for the group:

Takeaway #3: Impeachment Trial Should Be Legit

One of the more interesting results from our Pennsylvania group had to do with their views on the Senate impeachment trial. While the group was firmly against impeaching the president, they reacted positively to wanting to see the Senate run a legitimate impeachment trial. We showed the group a series of clips from the most recent Democratic presidential debate. One of the clips they reacted most positively towards was one where Democratic presidential candidate (and US Senator) Amy Klobuchar talked about wanting to hear from the president’s chief of staff Mick Mulvaney under oath during the impeachment trial.

In follow-up discussions, the group was also troubled to hear that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was coordinating impeachment strategy with the White House and that he is not intending to act as an “impartial juror” during the impeachment trial.

Takeaway #4: Trump’s Tariffs Okay

Our group of Pennsylvania swing voters lean in favor of the president’s trade policies, specifically the tariffs that the Trump Administration has placed on certain goods. When asked to rank how much they support these politicies, our group scored an average of 6 on a scale of zero (“totally oppose”) to ten (“totally support”). Additionally, they indicated that President Trump’s actions on trade won’t have a significant impact on their vote, scoring it 5.2 on a scale of zero (“have no impact on my vote”) to ten (“have a significant impact on my vote”). However, if a “trade war” with China were to cause prices to rise noticeably for them and their family, their support for the president would slightly decline.

Takeaway #5: Buttigieg Hits While Warren Misses

We asked our group to watch series of clips from the most recent Democratic presidential debate and provide continuous feedback using the dials. There were two clips that stood out–one for the group’s positive response and one for the negative.

The group reacted positively to this clip of Pete Buttigieg talking about the economic challenges faced by average Americans.

Conversely, the group reacted negatively to this clip of Elizabeth Warren talking about the marginalization of the LGBT community and steps she would take to address it. In the follow-up discussion, group members explained their negative reaction, stating that while they are sensitive to the issues faced by the LGBT community, they feel that there are higher priorities that should be focused on.

If you’d like to download the full summary from the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania swing voter group and/or view video highlights, visit the Swing Voter Project page. You can also view the full series of dial testing results from the democratic debates on this YouTube channel.

If you’d like to chat with our team about how can help you find out what voters are thinking about anything from campaign speeches and ads to public policy messaging, please let us know. And please stay tuned for our top dial testing takeaways from next month’s Swing Voter Project group as our team heads south for a bit of warmer weather and our first visit to the key battleground state of Florida.