If your congressman, governor or senator were an animal, what animal would he be? That is a standard question I ask in focus groups. If the politician in question is sitting next to me in the viewing room (as was possible before corona), there can be awkward moments. But it is a great question as it allows voters to express things that they would otherwise not say. If a politician is described as an alligator, rat, or snake, that is usually not a good sign. Oftentimes voters use these animals to refer to corruption allegations.
Focus groups are all about the “why” and in that sense, the reasoning for the chosen animal matters more than the animal itself. A mayor was once described as a cat who does not want to leave the house and get wet, meaning that voters were not happy with the mayor’s crisis management. A dove that comes from outside and lands in the city, refers to a candidate who has no roots in the area. A monkey that climbs up other people’s houses refers to a politician’s marital infidelity. On the other hand, a monkey is also sometimes meant to describe somebody who is smart. A carabao usually stands for a politician who is hardworking. Similarly, a roaring tiger is meant to describe a politician who delivers for his constituents.