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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Our latest Engagious/Schlesinger focus groups find swing voters "very troubled" over pulling George Washington's name from a public school or Dr. Seuss titles from the shelves — but fine with "canceling" My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell or "Mandalorian" actress Gina Carano.

Why it matters: Conservatives accuse progressives — and vice versa — of trying to cancel anyone who doesn't meet their purity tests. But these voters whose political loyalty is up for grabs see two distinct claims: legitimate versus frivolous.

  • "They're able to separate true outrage from manufactured outrage," said Engagious President Rich Thau, who moderated the discussion.
  • "They're able to separate attempts to redefine what's culturally acceptable, from people who are in the business of getting attention for themselves and then believing people are critical of them."
  • While focus groups are not statistically significant samples like polls, their responses show how some voters in crucial states are thinking and talking about national priorities.

The big picture: The two April 13 sessions included 13 women and men — from a mix of the most competitive swing states — who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 but Joe Biden in 2020.

  • Five of the 13 said America is "under assault" by progressive activists who want to "cancel things they deem offensive."
  • All 13 said cancel culture goes both ways — with liberals trying to cancel conservatives and conservatives trying to cancel liberals.

Between the lines: None of the 13 felt that they personally had been canceled by anybody — and several were vague about how to define terms like "woke" or "cancel culture."

  • "This is a conversation that's alien to their daily lives," Thau said. "This is a media conversation. This is something that happens to others."
  • But when posed with seven different cancel-culture scenarios and asked whether they were "very troubled" about the treatment of the supposed victims, these voters had quite different takeaways about whether each was a legitimate concern or not.

By the numbers: Zero of 13 felt "very troubled" by Carano's being fired by Disney after comparing being a Republican in 2020 to being Jewish in Nazi Germany. Ten of 13 were "very troubled" by a since-suspended plan in San Francisco to rename schools named for Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.

Other scenarios fell somewhere in between.

  • Only one sympathized deeply with Lindell, who lost major retailers after questioning the legitimacy of the election results and making a movie about election fraud. Two sided with Fox hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham.
  • Three worried about liberals' boycott of Goya Foods after its CEO had praised then-President Trump at an event. Five said the same about boycotting "Harry Potter" J.K. Rowling for voicing fears that transgender rights could impinge on women's rights.
  • Eight of 13 strongly opposed the decision to end publication of six old books by children's author Dr. Seuss because of concerns about offensive imagery.

What we're watching: Eleven of the 13 voters disagreed with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's recent declaration that corporations should "stay out of politics" — an idea he quickly walked back.

  • Some participants actually laughed out loud, while others said corporations should have the same rights to expression as individuals.
  • "You can't tell a corporation to stay out of politics and then say, 'But I still will accept your money,'" said Daniel V. from Nevada.
  • "Everyone has a right to voice their opinions," said Jamie G. from North Carolina. "It's wrong of him to try and silence that from any American."
  • The group was split on Major League Baseball moving its All-Star Game out of Atlanta in protest of Georgia's new voting restrictions.

Go deeper

Focus group: Red flags for Biden infrastructure plan

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Some swing voters say President Biden needs to better explain who'll pay for his $2 trillion infrastructure plan — and they'll only back bipartisan legislation that's paid for by corporations, not the middle class.

Why it matters: These takeaways from our latest Engagious/Schlesinger focus groups offer crucial context for an administration basing much of its legislative strategy on polls showing Americans notionally favor spending on roads, bridges, job training and broadband access.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Peloton stock tanks on report of production halt

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Peloton stock fell by as much as 25% on Thursday, following a CNBC report that the connected fitness company will temporarily halt production on its bikes and treadmills.

Why it matters: Peloton is viewed by many as a proxy for consumer behavior in the pandemic era, as its popularity surged when gyms closed and people wanted to exercise at home.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters, WHO says — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older.
  5. Variant tracker