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Focus Group’s ‘Biggest Takeaway’: Michigan Swing Voters Believe Harris Will Act As President; Leads Some To Go Trump
US Democratic vice presidential nominee and Senator from California, Kamala Harris speaks during the vice presidential debate in Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah on October 7, 2020, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

An Axios focus group on the vice presidential debate this week found that some Michigan swing voters — voters who voted for Obama in 2012 but flipped to Trump in 2016 — are sticking with President Donald Trump because of Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris. They believe that Harris “will be running the show” if Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wins in November.

Axios said that this week’s debate between Harris and Vice President Mike Pence did not change any of the participant’s minds about who they were going to vote for but it did “reinforced their view.”

“These are some of the few voters for whom the vice-presidential pick has outsized importance in how they view the two tickets, and for now that’s benefitting Trump,” Axios reported. “This was the biggest takeaway from our special post-vice presidential debate Engagious/Schlesinger focus group with 13 voters who chose Barack Obama in 2012 but Trump in 2016.”

One participant in the group said, “Biden’s not going to make it four years, so Kamala Harris is going to be president and I have zero trust she can be president, so I’m just picking the lesser of two evils at this point.”

Everyone in the group agreed, the report said. The emotions that the group felt the most when they watched Harris were “fear,” “anger,” “scared,” and “indifference.”

Another focus group member said, “I’m going to have to stick with [Trump] because I don’t know if the Left will make due on the promises they’re saying right now.”

“I’m fearful of this woman because she knows how to strike chords with the people of America,” another focus group member said. “She’s basically utilizing everything that has happened this year to attack the Trump campaign and she does it in such a way that she’s making really strong points, but I don’t think they’re true. So she’s coming across very powerful.”

Out of the 13 people in the group, Axios said that two of the people were going to vote for Biden because of the pandemic and the economy.

Some of the voters thought that Harris “did too well” and they are now “fearful she’ll boost Biden’s chances” of winning in November. Some of the participants mocked the different gestures that she made throughout the debate.

The findings from Axios’s focus group contrast the findings from a focus group of voters in swing states conducted by independent pollster Frank Luntz.

“The complaint about Kamala Harris was that she was abrasive and condescending,” Luntz said. “The complaint about Mike Pence was that he was too tired, but [he was] vice presidential, or presidential. If this is a battle over style and substance — which is often the case with undecided voters because they simply do not choose on policy, they also choose on persona — this was Mike Pence’s night.”

Luntz said that while voters were frustrated with the vice president for repeatedly running over his allotted time, “Harris’ reactions to Pence — the smiling, the smirking, the scowling’ left them far ‘angrier’ with her performance,” Fox News reported. Luntz said that voters were “more agitated with Kamala’s presentation than they were with Mike Pence.”

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