Veteran pollster: This GOP candidate had the 'lowest score ever' in my focus group

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) forcefully staked out his position as a moderate during the fourth Republican debate, but its not clear the tactic worked to his advantage.

During the debate, Kasich aggressively disputed front-runner Donald Trump’s plan to deport 11 million immigrants living in the US illegally. And he defended his position that he would bail out banks in the event of a potential financial collapse.

Though his style helped him garner one of the highest amounts of speaking time, early signals suggest it could diminish his standing with conservative voters.

Kasich was interrupted by a booing audience after he criticised Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) during the debate over the senator’s opposition to potential future bank bailouts.

“When a bank is going under and people are going to lose their life savings, you don’t say you have to deal with philosophical concerns,” Kasich said.

“Philosophy doesn’t work when you run something.”

It wasn’t just audience members who didn’t seem to appreciate Kasich’s message: Veteran pollster Frank Luntz said that Kasich registered the “lowest score ever” in his focus group:

Some analysts said that though Kasich established himself as a strong defender of moderate Republican values, he may have damaged himself with conservative voters who tend to drive the conversation during the primary.

“Kasich tried to take control of the debate by grabbing the mic from the outset. He aggressively positioned himself as the moderate in the field,” Robert O’Brien, a former adviser to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) told Business Insider in an email. “The problem for him is that the GOP primary voters skew conservative.”

Others put Kasich’s performance more bluntly.

 

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