GOP Focus Groups Are Taking All the Fun Out of Obama-Bashing

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The Supreme Court could give Republicans a huge victory Thursday by striking down Obamacare, and yet Republicans will have to restrain themselves from celebrating. Their polling shows that voters don't want to see them celebrating President Obama's defeat, Politico's Jake Sherman reports, and House Speaker John Boehner has asked them to refrain from spiking the football. This major downer follows earlier polls showing voters don't like many of the harshest attacks against Obama. In an election year in which the White House and majorities in both houses of Congress are within reach, Republicans are being forced to limit their trash talk.

Earlier this month, Boehner instructed his troops to stop calling Obamacare "job-killing" -- a line they've been using for years -- with the nicer message that Obama wasted too much time on Obamacare instead of fixing the economy. In May, Karl Rove's Super PAC Crossroads GPS found that harsh attacks against Obama can backfire with swing voters, The New York Times' Jeremy W. Peters reported. Those voters didn't respond to arguments that Obama lacked integrity or that he's a radical liberal. So the group used ads with a mom-ish actress lamenting, "I supported President Obama because he spoke so beautifully. He promised change. But things changed for the worse."

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That report came just says after The Times revealed an ad story board, created for a Super PAC funded by Joe Ricketts, attacking Obama as the pawn of radical leftists like the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The Romney campaign quickly denounced it, and eventually, so did Ricketts. While a big part of the Republican base is hungry for red meat (as seen above), Republican leaders can't give it to them. 

Instead, they're stuck with mellower talking points so dull even their authors need notes to remember them. Politico reports:

[House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy] drew up a palm card titled “It’s Not Just the Individual Mandate: Ten More Reasons to Support the Full Repeal of the President’s Health Care Law.” Among the reasons cited: the employer and state mandate, “new and higher taxes,” more regulations and bigger government, cuts to Medicare payments, the “conscience mandate” and higher health costs.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.