The Focus Group Podcast

The Focus Group Podcast

Unfiltered, uncompromising, unexpected—The Focus Group is a look into what the average voter thinks about politics, policy, and current events. Sarah Longwell, publisher of The Bulwark, has conducted hundreds of hours of focus groups all across the country. She and a series of special guests will take you behind the glass to hear what real focus group participants have to say.

  • 48 minutes 25 seconds
    S4 Ep37: Is The GOP 'Happy With Losing'? (with Isaac Arnsdorf)
    One of the Republican Party's biggest long-term problems is that their base is demanding behavior that swing voters won't tolerate, and few things have brought out this gap better than Donald Trump's recent conviction. The Washington Post's Isaac Arnsdorf joins Sarah to discuss what the MAGA base expects out of politicians these days, and how swing voters are reacting.

    show notes:
    Isaac Arnsdorf's Book: Finish What We Started: The MAGA Movement’s Ground War to End Democracy

    15 June 2024, 10:00 am
  • 40 minutes 37 seconds
    S4 Ep36: Former Trump Voters Say 'Lock Him Up' (with Laura Barrón-López)
    When Donald Trump's 34 felony convictions were handed down, we had focus groups ready to talk about them. PBS Newshour's Laura Barrón-López joins Sarah to listen to swing voters' reactions to Trump's conviction, and to the start of Hunter Biden's federal trial.

    show notes
    PBS Newshour: How Republican voters feel about Trump and the election after his conviction
    8 June 2024, 10:00 am
  • 47 minutes 10 seconds
    S4 Ep35: It's Just About Feelings, Man (with Jonathan V. Last)
    We have five months to go until Election Day, and nobody's happy. So we're bringing you some catharsis. Jonathan V. Last joins Sarah to let out a primal scream and preview the home stretch of this presidential campaign through the lens of Trump '16/Biden '20 voters.

    This show is sponsored by BetterHelp. Focus Group Podcast listeners can get 10% off their first month at
    1 June 2024, 10:00 am
  • 37 minutes 16 seconds
    S4 Ep34: The Holocaust Denier from North Carolina (with Zach Montellaro)
    North Carolina Republicans have nominated a candidate for governor who might be crazier than all of the Republicans who ran in 2022. And that's saying something. POLITICO's Zach Montellaro joins Sarah to walk through Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson's political rise, and how his supporters and GOP detractors feel about him.

    show notes:

    25 May 2024, 10:00 am
  • 46 minutes 34 seconds
    S4 Ep33: Unlearning Their Hermit-ness (with Tim Miller)
    2024's college graduates started their college careers with COVID, and ended them with encampments on most of their campuses. Tim Miller joins Sarah to discuss how America's youth have dealt with a turbulent few years, how they view the recent protests on their campuses, and their thoughts on November's election.
    18 May 2024, 10:00 am
  • 49 minutes 44 seconds
    S4 Ep32: Larry Hogan: The Most Democratic Republican (with Michael Steele)
    One of Sarah's favorite Republicans, former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, is running for the U.S. Senate. So how are Sarah, and her fellow Maryland voters thinking about this race? Former Maryland Lt. Governor (and RNC chairman) Michael Steele joins Sarah to discuss how left-leaning Marylanders who've voted for Hogan before are thinking about his Senate bid, and his Democratic challengers.
    11 May 2024, 10:00 am
  • 36 minutes 16 seconds
    S4 Ep31: Trump's 'F*ck You' Strategy (with Marc Caputo)
    Donald Trump said that Nikki Haley's supporters would be "permanently barred" from the MAGA camp...and he's keeping that promise in the general election. Bulwark MAGA-world correspondent Marc Caputo joins Sarah to listen to Nikki Haley's base...those that are abandoning Trump in the general election, and those that are sticking with him.
    4 May 2024, 10:00 am
  • 43 minutes 25 seconds
    S4 Ep30: Arizona: The "Leave Me Alone" State (with Yvonne Wingett Sanchez)
    Abortion has become a defining feature of the 2024 election in Arizona, and Arizona women know it. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Arizona-based democracy reporter for the Washington Post, joins Sarah to walk through the implications of the Arizona Supreme Court re-instituting an 1864 ban on abortion in the state.

    Editor's note: This show was taped before the Arizona House voted to repeal the ban on April 24.

    show notes:
    The Post's Inside the GOP reckoning over Arizona’s 1864 abortion ban
    27 April 2024, 10:00 am
  • 45 minutes 2 seconds
    S4 Ep29: Wanted: Serious, Sober People (with Bill Kristol)
    Voters have gotten long looks at both Donald Trump and Joe Biden representing America on the world stage, so what did swing voters see? Bill Kristol joins Sarah to talk about the foreign policy stakes of the 2024 election, and how voters think about the War in Ukraine and America's role in it. This show was recorded before Iran's April 13-14 attack on Israel.
    20 April 2024, 10:00 am
  • 53 minutes 47 seconds
    S4 Ep28: The "Uncommitted" Democrats (with Tommy Vietor)
    Some voters in recent Democratic primaries have been upset with Joe Biden's handling of the Israel-Hamas war. Whether and how he can bring them back onside in November is an open question. Pod Save America co-host Tommy Vietor joins Sarah to break down a small but critical part of the Democratic coalition, why they're upset, and what it could mean in November.
    13 April 2024, 10:00 am
  • 51 minutes 53 seconds
    S4 Ep27: RFK, Jr.: The Most Insider Outsider (with Astead Herndon)
    Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is shaking up the presidential race...and no one knows what his impact is going to be. So we talked to former Trump voters and former Biden voters who are giving Kennedy a look. Astead Herndon, host of the New York Times politics podcast The Run-Up joins Sarah to discuss his recent interview with Kennedy and how the voters are thinking about him.

    Show Notes:

    The Run-Up: Don't Ask RFK Jr. About Being a Spoiler
    6 April 2024, 10:00 am
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