CBS Finds 'Independent' Voters Who All Bash the Tea Party

On Thursday's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric talked to a group of supposedly independent voters in Pennsylvania, but touted how none of them were undecided about one thing: "...there was unanimous agreement in this group, the Tea Party isn't their cup of tea." [Audio available here]

Following that declaration by Couric, each voter took their turn denouncing the conservative political movement. Marketing director Scott Barclay dismissed the tea party "as another voice from the fringe." Janis Fonteccio proclaimed: "They make statements that are just absolutely terrorizing." Single mom Katie Gray Sadler warned: "Making a lot of noise doesn't necessarily mean you have the right answers." Maria Reice, a registered nurse, wrapped up the tea party bashing: "It shouldn't be the Tea Party. It should be the inflammatory party."

Earlier in the report, Couric asked auto maintenance supervisor Bruce Yordy: "Are you willing to take out your anger about what is or isn't happening out on the Democrats in November?" Yordy replied: "I'm not out for revenge. I'm – I'm out for answers." She then noted that despite being on the verge of losing his job, Scott Barclay "doesn't want to fire the Democrats just yet." Barclay argued: "I probably would be leaning more to trying to maintain a little of the status quo and allow, you know, the work that's started to continue. If there's a big shift in power, my feeling is it's only going to spend the next two years undoing it all for a net sum gain of zero."

When Couric asked Barclay what it meant to be an independent, he explained: "...all I really see is that the Democrats are against the Republicans, the Republicans are against the Democrats, and no one's really for America." Couric observed: "That was a sentiment expressed over and over....Perhaps because this fall, attack ads like these have been running over and over in Pennsylvania." The "attack ad" that was highlighted was one that went after Democratic Senate candidate Joe Sestak. Another supposedly negative ad that appeared on screen was one by Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio against independent Charlie Crist in Florida.

Couric began the segment by downplaying the significant lead Republicans have in the state: "The Republicans have an edge in almost every statewide poll, but there's a good chance that independent voters might be the real key in the keystone state." In fact, the Real Clear Politics average has Republican Pat Toomey with more than an "edge" over Sestak, having a comfortable lead of 7.8%. in the senate race. Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett is leading Democrat Dan Onorato by a wide margin of 11.5%.

Here is a full transcript of the October 14 segment:

6:30PM ET TEASE:

KATIE COURIC: Control of Congress is up for grabs, and independent voters could be the deciding factor. We'll listen to their American voices.

6:40PM TEASE

COURIC: We'll hear from the independent voters who could decide who will control the new Congress.

6:43PM ET SEGMENT:

COURIC: Republicans want to take back Congress. Democrats don't want to give it up, but it's independents who will decide. So we went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and talked with independent voters who helped President Obama win that battleground state two years ago. Where is their independence taking them this year? We tried to find out as we listened to their American voices.

BARACK OBAMA: Change doesn't come from the top. It comes from the bottom!

BRUCE YORDY [AUTO-MAINTENANCE SUPERVISOR]: You know, they promise you everything and give you nothing, it seems a lot of times.

COURIC: They're disappointed.

MARIA REICE [REGISTERED NURSE]: Unfortunately, a lot of people feel like Obama's going to be a one-term president.

COURIC: Disillusioned.

YORDY: The companies got the bailouts. Some of those people did rather well. I wasn't one of them.

COURIC: And in some cases, downright disgusted.

JANIS FONTECCIO: I need someone who's going to represent us, not Democrats, Republicans, or the President, but the people who gave them the job.

COURIC: Fed up or fired up, independents are now the largest segment of the electorate, representing 40 percent of all Americans.

REICE: I think we're probably all in the middle of the road, not on the left or the right.

COURIC: Here in Pennsylvania, the governor's mansion, one Senate seat, and 19 House seats are up for grabs. The Republicans have an edge in almost every statewide poll, but there's a good chance that independent voters might be the real key in the keystone state. And what better place to let those independent voices be heard than the place where the right to free speech was born, Independence Hall. How would you describe an independent?

YORDY: I believe that I don't adhere to party lines. I adhere to what I think is going to do the right thing for our country.

COURIC: How about you?

SCOTT BARCLAY [MARKETING DIRECTOR]: Yeah, I would agree. You know, when I look at the political situation now, all I really see is that the Democrats are against the Republicans, the Republicans are against the Democrats, and no one's really for America.

COURIC: That was a sentiment expressed over and over.

CAMPAIGN AD: Higher taxes and premiums, fewer jobs-

COURIC: Perhaps because this fall, attack ads like these have been running over and over in Pennsylvania.

CAMPAIGN AD: Pennsylvania can't afford Joe Sestak.

[ON-SCREEN: Marco Rubio negative ad against Charlie Crist in Florida Senate Race]

COURIC: Of the more than 37,000 campaign ads that have aired here in the last two months, a whopping 80 percent of them went negative.

FONTECCIO: I thought about this before coming here, and I felt like I'm in a supermarket in the cereal aisle, and every box is one of the attack ads. It's like take it down and look on the back to find ingredients and the nutrition. But there's no labels on it. There's no labels. You know, how are you supposed to find out how you can vote when there isn't even anything to tell you what they stand for?

COURIC: Are you willing to take out your anger about what is or isn't happening out on the Democrats in November?

YORDY: Well, I don't want to – look, I'm not out for revenge. I'm – I'm out for answers. Exactly. I'm out for solutions.

REICE: Results. Results.

YORDY: Yes, I don't want excuses. I want results.

COURIC: But those have been hard to come by, as are jobs. Since the last election, the unemployment rate in Pennsylvania has jumped from 6 to 9 percent. In fact, Scott Barclay's job as a marketing director, and its six-figure salary, will be eliminated tomorrow. Still, the 40-year-old father of three doesn't want to fire the Democrats just yet.

BARCLAY: If anything, I probably would be leaning more to trying to maintain a little of the status quo and allow, you know, the work that's started to continue. If there's a big shift in power, my feeling is it's only going to spend the next two years undoing it all for a net sum gain of zero.

COURIC : Even those who are employed are struggling. Katie Gray Sadler is a 52-year-old single mom working two jobs, and that still might not be enough to afford to send her straight-A son Trevor to college.

KATIE GRAY SADLER: He's an excellent student and speaks Japanese and Spanish and he self-studied it to learn it. I mean, he's doing all the things he could possibly do to get in the best school in the nation, and now he's posting things like, 'you know, I'll start off with a community college because I don't want my mom to struggle.'

COURIC: That must have been pretty heartbreaking to see that.

SADLER: It was, very much so. So we've been talking a lot about the candidates for the upcoming election. When I go in there, I'm voting with Trevor in mind completely.

COURIC : And there was unanimous agreement in this group, the Tea Party isn't their cup of tea.

BARCLAY: I see it more as another voice from the fringe.

FONTECCIO: They make statements that are just absolutely terrorizing.

SADLER: Making a lot of noise doesn't necessarily mean you have the right answers.

REICE: It shouldn't be the Tea Party. It should be the inflammatory party.

COURIC: And just as the Founding Fathers learned the art of compromise more than 220 years ago, these independent voters hope their elected officials will somehow meet them in the middle.

YORDY: I mean, just being here at Independence Hall and thinking of what happened here a few hundred years ago, this is where our country began, and we just need to take a look at it and go back to our roots and pick up and go forward.

COURIC: American voices being heard. If you would like to share your opinion with us, you can go to cbsnews.com and let us hear your voice.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC