Show an ad over header. AMP

Focus group: Ohio swing voters unhappy with Trump and Biden in debate

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The chaotic first presidential debate didn't do much to change some voters' minds here, with several voters who previously supported President Trump deciding to stick with him, even if they were embarrassed by his debate performance.

Why it matters: Most people's minds were made up before Tuesday's debate. But these voters' feelings show how much the pandemic may be hurting Trump in battleground states.


This was the biggest takeaway from our special post-debate Engagious/Schlesinger focus group with 11 voters who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 but Trump in 2016, and who live around the Youngstown, Ohio, area.

  • Four of those 11 plan to vote for Biden, while the rest are sticking with Trump. But those who are switching to Biden mostly made up their minds in the spring when the pandemic took off.
  • Biden leads Trump by about 3 percentage points in Ohio in the RealClearPolitics polling average.
  • One voter said if Trump condemns white supremacist groups more forcefully, she would flip back to him.
  • While a focus group is not a statistically significant sample like a poll, the responses show how some voters are thinking and talking about the 2020 election in crucial states.

What they're saying: "I have a little more faith in Biden than I do in Trump, honestly, because Trump has shown us evidently we can’t trust him," said April P., who's voting for Biden.

  • "This is ridiculous for this many people to die," said Rocco P., who's also supporting Biden. "Trump has to be involved in everything and that’s part of the problem."
  • "In 2016, the way [Trump] spoke was different. He was more focused on what needed to be done," said Sherry W., who's voting for Biden. "Now, it’s all about conspiracy theories and that is really concerning to me."
  • While watching Trump at the debate, respondents felt a mix of embarrassment and annoyance, including those who plan to vote for him. "I don't think it was very classy the way he handled himself," said Kristen D., who's sticking with Trump anyway.
  • Dartavia P. said she was "irritated that he kept talking over everybody and that he wouldn't answer the questions," but plans to vote to re-elect him.

Between the lines: These voters largely felt that neither Trump nor Biden were speaking directly to them at the debate or addressing the issues they care most about.

  • "It was such a s*** show that I don’t think that anybody had enough time to say anything important because the other would start yelling," said Brenda R.
  • "Neither of them conducted themselves as gentleman, or president and presidential candidate. I was very disappointed in both," said Tracy G., who will support Trump.

Biden's explicit attempts to connect with voters — at times speaking directly into the camera rather than to the moderator, and ignoring Trump — felt too forced to some of these voters.

  • Pat M., a Trump supporter, said that Biden appeared "scripted" and "robotic" in those moments.
  • While watching Biden, some respondents remarked that he appeared to get "frustrated" and "was being brought down to Donald Trump’s level."

The bottom line: These voters indicated there's almost nothing that could change their minds between now and November. "The 15 minutes I watched I didn’t get anything out of it, so I turned it off," said Adam A.

Senate Democrats settling on 25% corporate tax rate

The universe of Democratic senators concerned about raising the corporate tax rate to 28% is broader than Sen. Joe Manchin, and the rate will likely land at 25%, parties close to the discussion tell Axios.

Why it matters: While increasing the rate from 21% to 25% would raise about $600 billion over 15 years, it would leave President Biden well short of paying for his proposed $2.25 trillion, eight-year infrastructure package.

Keep reading... Show less

Republican leaders raked in sizable donations from grassroots supporters

Republican leaders turned to grassroots supporters and raked in sizable donations after corporations cut them off post-Jan. 6.

Why it matters: If those companies hoped to push the GOP toward the center, they may have done just the opposite by turning Republican lawmakers toward their most committed — and ideologically driven — supporters.

Keep reading... Show less

CDC: Half of US adults have received one COVID-19 vaccine dose

Data: CDC; Chart: Axios Visuals

Half of US adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and about a third are fully vaccinated, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are still on the rise, CDC director Rochelle Walensky said during Friday's White House COVID-19 briefing. With cases in many states being driven by variants, public health officials have emphasized the need to ramp up vaccinations.

Keep reading... Show less

Israeli intel agencies believe Vienna talks will lead to U.S. return to Iran nuclear deal

Israeli military intelligence and senior officials in the Mossad briefed a meeting of the nation's security cabinet that talks in Vienna between Iran and other world powers will lead to the U.S. returning to the 2015 nuclear deal, two officials who attended the meeting told me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government is very concerned about a U.S. return to the nuclear deal and is trying to convince the Biden administration not to take the pressure off the Iranian regime.

Keep reading... Show less

"It hurts": Latino community of 13-year-old killed by police in Chicago reels after shooting

Residents of Little Village, a well-known and predominantly Latino neighborhood in Chicago, are grieving the death of Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old Mexican American boy from the neighborhood who was shot and killed by a police officer on March 29, NBC News reports.

Why it matters: Adam Toledo's killing shines a spotlight on police shootings of Latinos, who are killed by law enforcement at the second-highest rate after Black Americans, according to data from the Washington Post.

Keep reading... Show less

Biden adviser warns "there will be consequences" for Russia if Navalny dies

The Biden administration warned the Russian government "that there will be consequences" if jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny dies, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN on Sunday.

The big picture: Sullivan also defended President Biden for not mentionining Navalny in a Thursday speech about Russia or in a Tuesday call with Russian President Vladimir Putin,saying the White House aims to deal with the issue "privately and through diplomatic channels."

Keep reading... Show less

Prosecutor on leave for failing to "fully present the facts" after shooting of 13-year-old boy

Cook County prosecutor James Murphy was placed on administrative leave Friday after he implied in court that 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who was shot and killed by a police officer in March, was armed when he was shot, the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times report.

Why it matters: Videos of the shooting show that Toledo dropped what appears to be a weapon and put his hands in the air a moment before before he was fatally shot. A lawyer for the Toledo family said Thursday that if the teen "had a gun, he tossed it."

Keep reading... Show less

Biden's blinking red lights: Taiwan, Ukraine and Iran

Russia is menacing Ukraine’s borders, China is sending increasingly ominous signals over Taiwan and Iran is accelerating its uranium enrichment to unprecedented levels.

The big picture: Ukraine, Taiwan and Iran’s nuclear program always loomed large on the menu of potential crises President Biden could face. But over the last several days, the lights have been blinking red on all three fronts all at once.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories