The Dust Has Settled: What the Debate Did for Undecided Voters

As first debates go, the Trump/Biden debate was a doozy for pretty much everyone involved.

If you watched the much-anticipated match up, you will know that President Donald Trump came out of the gate, practically swinging. But Biden, much to everyone’s surprise, actually took those shots well, even giving some back in return.

The night was full of personal shots and plenty of interruptions. In that matter, it made the debate much more interesting than many that have taken place in recent years. You know the ones where everyone is nice and polite, it almost makes you sick and where it seems to be much more like a game show than an actual debate?

So what did viewers think about the night’s events?

To answer this and get a clear picture of what the night did for each candidate, we must consider the ever-insightful focus group analysis of Frank Luntz.

As is usual, Luntz puts together a group of undecided voters from states typically considered swing states. Once the debate is over, the debate is discussed with each individual to gauge how the event may or may not have affected their opinion of the candidates and, in so doing, their vote. In the past, the results of each group tend to give an inclination of one candidate or the other having “won” or outperformed the other. It also provides a sense of what the national or overall reaction may have been.

However, Luntz and others have noted that this year’s results are drastically different from those he has ever experienced. Instead of most of the group leaning towards one or the other, it seemed that the event left most of them running for the hills.

This year’s group included 15 individuals from Iowa, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Nevada. Nine were men, and six were women.

According to Politico, “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.”

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

But it wasn’t that most were still undecided. Luntz reported at the end that most of those nine actually said they would rather not vote at all than have to choose.

He tweeted, “This debate has actually convinced some undecided voters to not vote at all. I’ve never seen a debate cause this reaction.”

So what has so many ceding their right to vote?

Well, according to quite a few, and even ones who said they would vote for Trump, the President was seen as being a “bully.” One person even categorized him as “unhinged,” “arrogant,” “chaotic,” and “forceful.” Another said that Trump tends to “inflame a lot of anger in this country,” but didn’t necessarily say that was they say in the debate.

However, they also noted that a few of his shots at Biden were well placed, rightly pointing out flaws that would be important to voters and hitting him where it counts, such as his stance on the economy and his refusal to answer questions about Supreme Court-packing. Trump even got Biden to flip on his support of the Green New Deal, likely shocking liberal voters who had hoped he would be an adequate replacement for Bernie Sanders.

The final consensus was that most individuals would like to hear more about each candidate’s views of particular topics, with their strategies to handle racial injustice and reuniting the country at the top of the list.

This could be good news for both candidates going into the next two debates, the first of which is set to take place on October 7. Then again, as so many are undecided and others not even wanting to cast a ballot now, it could be detrimental to one or the other.

My money is that it will do more harm to Biden than anyone at this point.

True, he seems to be up in the polls now, but it’s not by a lot. And there is practically no enthusiasm for the man, as there is with Trump. If voters decide not to show up, the results may be quite similar to what they were in 2016 – with Trump winning not because he got so many more votes, but because too many people who might have voted Democrat never showed.