Dec 17, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Focus group: Most swing voters support jail time for Jan. 6 panel defiers

The Jan. 6 Committee is seen during a meeting.
The Jan. 6 Select Committee meets on Dec. 1. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Some Trump-to-Biden swing voters say they strongly support the work of the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attacks — and that witnesses who refuse to cooperate should face consequences including prison.

Driving the news: That's the key takeaway this week from Axios’ latest Engagious/Schlesinger focus groups, which were monitored by Axios' Sarah Mucha.

Why it matters: The committee is accelerating its investigation, and the House referred former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to the Justice Department for criminal contempt charges.

  • The feedback from Tuesday night's panels suggests many swing voters still want accountability for the insurrection.

How it works: The two online focus groups were comprised of 13 men and women who switched from voting for Donald Trump in 2016 to Joe Biden in 2020 and who live in the most competitive 2020 swing states.

  • Twelve of the 13 said the congressional investigation is a worthwhile use of time and taxpayer funds — and prison is an appropriate consequence for those flatly refusing to testify or turn over documents.
  • Notably, though, none of the voters was able to name a single member of the committee.
  • While a focus group is not a statistically significant sample like a poll, the responses show how some voters in crucial states are thinking and talking about current events.

What they’re saying: “It's important to know why this really happened in order to keep it from happening again,” said Alisa R., 41, of Phoenix.

  • Michael D., 29, from Doral, Florida, said that “without an investigation, it's difficult to assign blame.”
  • "There needs to be transparency and accountability,” said Anna F., 35, from Onalaska, Wisconsin.
  • “While swing voters don’t get mired in details and personalities, they take the January 6 committee’s investigation quite seriously,” said Rich Thau, president of Engagious, who moderated the focus groups.

What we’re watching: Two other clear narratives emerged from Tuesday's Trump-to-Biden panels.

  • These participants don't want to see Roe v. Wade overturned.
  • And they had strong negative responses to family Christmas photos of Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) posing with their children holding guns.
  • Dan C., 54, of Lewisville, Texas, said: "I’m not anti-gun; I’m a hunter."
  • What he said he objects to is the glorification of assault-style weapons, and imagery of “guns and kids.”

Ten of the 13 said if Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion will be an influencing and possibly determinative factor on whether they turn out in 2022 — and a litmus test for candidates they'll support.

  • “I normally don’t vote" in the midterms, said Linda P., 62, of Levittown, Pennsylvania, “But I would because I would want to have my voice heard on this.”
  • “What a woman chooses to do in a pregnancy situation should be her decision. That should be the woman’s choice,” said Matthew M., 34, from Philadelphia.
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