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McMahon: Focusing

They call them focus groups. In case you’re not familiar with them, a lot of different businesses use them, to inquire from a select sampling of the population, how people feel about a product or service.

Broadcast organizations use them regularly to find out their audiences’ true opinions about personalities and programs. It can be painful, privately listening behind one-way glass to someone say negative things about a colleague — and if it’s you, it’s even worse. But you still grit your teeth and listen and, hopefully, learn.

That must have been the experience that Barack Obama had election night when the focus group was America’s voters, telling him that no matter how much he liked the product that he created for people — for a number of reasons, they aren’t buying it. And if he’s as smart as we’ve been told he is, he had better listen. Maybe, it’s as simple a thing as the packaging or maybe it costs too much, but, Mr. President, this focus group says “back to the drawing board.”