Undecided voters call Trump ‘unhinged’ and ‘un-American’ — but unswayed by debate

Source: Politico | September 30, 2020 | Laura Barrón-López

“You just saw 90 minutes. How can you still be undecided?” veteran GOP pollster Frank Luntz told a virtual focus group.

After watching the first presidential debate Tuesday night, undecided voters from battleground states across the country still had plenty they wanted to know about coronavirus, racial injustice and what each candidate would do to unite the country.

Out of 15 undecided voters in a virtual focus group conducted by veteran Republican pollster Frank Luntz, four said they were supporting Democratic nominee Joe Biden after watching the debate and two backed President Donald Trump. The rest remained on the fence. There were nine men and six women and they hailed from Arizona, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Nevada.

“You just saw 90 minutes. How can you still be undecided?” an incredulous Luntz asked. “Please explain that to me?”

Despite their indecisiveness, most described Trump in a negative light, including one of the participants who was leaning toward voting for the president. The voters characterized Trump as “unhinged,” “arrogant,” “forceful,” a “bully,” “chaotic” and “un-American.”

When asked to describe Biden they offered: “better than expected,” “politician,” “compassion,” “coherent,” and a “nice guy lacking vision.”

Across a one-hour session in which Luntz brought in a handful of reporters from national news outlets, including POLITICO, to pose questions to the group, the following is what stood out.

What pushed some over the edge

The roughly four voters who ended the night in Biden’s corner were stunned by Trump’s performance. Ruthie, a voter from Pennsylvania, described it as trying to “win an argument with a crackhead.”

Joe from Arizona said he entered the night leaning Biden and after the debate decided to vote for the former vice president. Trump didn’t defend his record on the unrest in American cities and protests, he said. “He inflames a lot of anger in this country,” said Joe. And on the pandemic, he said, Trump “couldn’t defend his record on slow walking” the government’s response.

Luke from Wisconsin was one of the two participants to say he’s now voting for Trump. “Trump is annoying, he’s unpresidential,” Luke said, but on the economy and “law and order” he trusts Trump. Luke said he doesn’t want to be “afraid” for his community, pointing to riots in Kenosha after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, which left Blake paralyzed.

Why some remained undecided

The majority of the focus group remained undecided after the lengthy, chaotic debate. Many put a greater onus on Biden to deliver strong answers than Trump — excusing the president’s behavior as “typical” or just Trump being Trump.

Travis of Arizona said the few times Biden tried to land a jab on Trump “he whiffed.”

Joe in North Carolina appeared to be leaning toward Biden after the debate but still wasn’t sure — Trump and Republicans’ constant attacks on the Democratic nominee as “senile” or “sleepy” had gotten to him.

Biden won the debate, Joe said, because “there was no significant gaffe.”

“I was surprised that he did as well as he did,” he continued. “Some part of the narrative that Trump has spun so far that Biden may not be up to this task, it certainly did plant a seed of doubt in my mind.” Still, he said, while Biden’s performance was strong, it wasn’t strong enough to sway him to make a decision.

Kimberly from Ohio, the only Black person in the focus group, wanted to hear more about race relations and expressed frustration that little was said about Congress and the Trump administration’s inability to reach a deal on stimulus relief. “You still have millions of Americans out there who can’t even feed their families,” she said.

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  •  EVERYDAY #43218

    Undecided voters are still undecided because they didn’t get any information on the issues that might help them make a decision. What they got was a show. That is all Trump is good at — putting on a show and dazzling people with his BS. The so-called debate was a farce, a sham. Wallace should have pulled the plug when it became obvious within the first few minutes that this was not a real debate.

    Some are calling for the remaining debates to be canceled. I agree with them. If Trump is not going to behave like a grownup, any additional debates would be a waste of time and effort.

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