Republican pollster Frank Luntz told CNBC on Wednesday that there are strong political differences among Americans that would make it a challenge to compromise in Washington under Biden’s new administration.
“It will be very difficult for the President and Congress to find that middle ground because frankly it doesn’t exist,” Luntz told Squawk Box a few hours before President-elect Joe Biden took office.
Luntz’s comments followed a virtual focus group he hosted Tuesday night with more than a dozen Americans from across the ideological spectrum, which touched on a range of economic issues such as tax policy and Wall Street regulation.
“It was the most controversial group I’ve made in a long time,” said Luntz. “It was even more contentious than in the run-up to the elections” when Democrat Biden defeated incumbent Republican President Donald Trump.
Biden has repeatedly tried to portray himself as a unified figure at a difficult moment in US history. It’s an issue he wants to highlight during his inaugural address as the nation is still mired in a pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 people in the US and caused significant economic problems. The country is also grappling with the aftermath of the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol two weeks ago by a Trumpist mob who tried to turn the results of a democratically held election upside down.
Luntz said it was difficult for him to identify unity among his focus group participants. “They don’t see each other at eye level. They don’t find anything in common. You’re actually trying to split,” he said. “So if someone says something positive about companies, the next person says something negative. If someone says we need to increase ‘X’, they argue we need to cut ‘Y’.”
Perhaps the only area of agreement, Luntz said, is the desire for Washington to pass on additional coronavirus stimulus. Congress last month approved a $ 900 billion Covid relief package, which was its first major relief effort since March.
Biden, who said more incentives are needed, last week unveiled a $ 1.9 trillion proposal that would provide additional direct payments to most Americans, as well as aid to state and local governments and money to distribute Covid – Contained vaccines.
“You support more impulses. You want to put more money directly into the pockets of the Americans,” said Luntz of his focus group. “We found that in our polls, too. 85% of Democrats and 55% to 60% of Republicans want … another stimulus package because they know people who are suffering or they are suffering themselves.”