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Battleground State Focus Group of Persuadable Voters

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Battleground State Focus Group of Persuadable Voters

A qualitative look at the presidential contest in key battleground states

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Focus Group of Persuadable Voters in Battleground States

Jay DeDapper, Director of Innovation at The Marist Poll

One of the biggest questions about the upcoming presidential election is how many voters are really undecided. How many Trump supporters or Biden supporters are actually persuadable – how many are really open to picking the other guy. And more importantly, why?

So, we put together a focus group of 8 self-identified persuadable voters from battleground states Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. And we did it the night after the first presidential debate. So, what did they think?

What we heard was that many of these voters who picked Trump in 2016 were embarrassed by his performance in the debate. Words used to describe him were “bully”, “chaos”, and “crude, but effective”. But since this is a group that’s largely disgusted with politics and politicians, there was also no deep love for Joe Biden and his 47-year career as a...politician. Words used to describe him were “weak”, “ineffective”, and “blah”. “Normal” was the only positive reaction to Biden.

We talked about a ton of other things – on COVID they all agreed it was real and bad but there was less agreement about whether Trump deserved much blame for the current situation and whether the media has blown it out of proportion.

On racial issues the group – which was all white – dove into an interesting discussion about white privilege (they largely agreed it’s a thing).

And while there was some back-and-forth about the protests surrounding police shootings, this group generally wanted to hear Trump and Biden condemn both police brutality and rioting.

So where do they land on Election day? We went around the room and pressed if they had to vote right this second and...most chose Trump, two chose third party candidates and one picked Biden.

Interesting, but keep in mind in our polls of these three states – Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin -- the percent of undecided likely voters was 3, 2, and 1 percent respectively. It’s a small group this year who have not yet picked a side.

 

Participants 

Moderator: Mike Conte, Director of Research & Data Analysis

Participants: Bryant, Cindi, Joe, Jon, Julian, Leah, Lisa, Mary

 

Methodology

This Marist Poll virtual focus group of “persuadable voters” who reside in Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin was conducted on Wednesday, September 30th 2020 from 7:00pm to 8:30pm EDT. The participants were recruited from random digit dial Marist Poll telephone surveys conducted by live interviewers of Pennsylvania residents from August 31st through September 7th, 2020, Michigan residents from September 19th through 23rd, 2020 or Wisconsin residents from September 20th through 24th, 2020. Full results of these polls may be found at http://maristpoll.marist.edu/. During the initial survey, respondents were asked if they had access to an Internet enabled device with a camera and if they would be willing to participate in a follow-up group discussion on an online video platform to further expand upon their opinions. After the completion of the telephone survey, a sample of potential focus group participants was generated based on their access to an Internet enabled device, their stated willingness to participate in the virtual group discussion, and their qualifications for the focus group, in this case, registered voters who were identified as “persuadable voters,” that is, they were either undecided about their preference for president in the original poll or they had a preference but said they might vote differently when they cast their ballot. This list of potential participants was then re-contacted via telephone by live interviewers to invite their participation in the virtual focus group. Additionally, participants had to agree to the public use of their first name, age, race, region of the state where they reside, political affiliation, and presidential candidate preference. Participants were paid $125 for their time. The focus group consisted of eight participants and was conducted using the Zoom platform. Michael Conte, Director of Research and Data Analysis at the Marist Poll, served as the discussion moderator.

 

Transcript

Mike: Hi everyone, my name is Mike. I'm going to be the moderator for tonight's discussion. First of all, thank you very much for agreeing to do this with us. I really do appreciate it, kind of just on a more in-depth follow up discussion to the telephone surveys that you all participated in sometime in the last couple of weeks.

To start off, I'm going to lay out a couple of ground rules, guidelines that. Kind of like the discussion to follow. Again, as I just said, you all just did a telephone survey with us sometime in the last few weeks. This is a little different than that, where that was usually, we ask you questions, looking for specific answers. I want you to think of this much more as a conversation. Where I am going to have some specific questions, I do have a guide I want to follow just to make sure that we hit on a bunch of different topics. Well, I want you to feel free to jump in. There are no right or wrong answers. I'm not looking for any particular answers. This is really just to kind of dive into your opinions and get to the kind of underlying factors of why you feel the way that you do. Again, no right or wrong answers. I do kind of want to make sure I hear from everyone over the course of the night. There might be times where I do call on people by name.

But again, if you have something to say, please feel free to jump in. I want you to think of it, not so much as an interview, but much more as a kind of guided conversation. Just as a reminder, this video or any personally identifying information will not be used at all. You don't have to worry about that. If you need to get up and go to the bathroom or anything, feel free, don't worry about it. Do just kind of try to limit the interruption. And it's just because we only have about an hour and a half or so. And I do have quite a list of topics that I hope that we cover. Just a couple things to note, as I said, I do have a guide that I'm gonna be following.

If you're talking and you see my eyes, like not looking directly at you, they're kind of darting back and forth. Don't worry. It's not because I'm not paying attention to you. It's just cause I'm kind of scrolling through my guide to making sure I'm hitting on all the different topics that I am hoping to cover tonight. You all, besides having taken a telephone survey with us, have one thing in common. This is a focus group where we consider you all to be persuadable voters. That means, in the survey that you took, we asked you who are you going to support for president, and everyone here either initially said they were undecided or, when we asked the strength of support, you said there's a chance you might vote differently on election day. You’re all kind of like those. Persuadable middle of the road, people that everyone is dying to dig into your opinions. Again, thank you much for taking the time to be here tonight. Just to start, I just want to go around the room, do a couple, just a brief introduction with everyone.

I don't think we're all looking at the same order of all the tiles on the scale. I am just going to kind of go alphabetically. When I call on you, just tell me your name. Tell me where you grew up. And the one thing I want to know. On a zero to 10 scale, I want you to just rate the state of America right now. Politics, anything, I know that's a big question, but honestly, it's meant to be big. Zero, meaning everything is absolutely terrible. It couldn't get any worse. Right now, 10 meaning, everything is great. Going in the great direction, is absolutely nothing wrong. Again, just your name, where you grew up? Zero to 10. Rate the state of America right now. I am just going to go alphabetically. Bryant right there. You are up first.

Bryant: Hi, I'm Bryant. I grew up in rural Wisconsin. Rating. I'd say a five.

Mike: A five right now. All right. Thank you. And we will be digging into these, I appreciate it. But, let's see, Cynthia, I think I was told Cindi, correct?

Cindi: Yes.

Mike: Right there. Just, we can read your name, but just your name, where you grew up and then that zero to 10 scale.

Cindi: Cindi is what I'm called. Michigan. I lived in suburbs of Detroit for most of my life, and five.

Mike: Five. All right. Thank you very much. Joe.

Joe: Hi, thanks for having me. And I appreciate the opportunity. I'm in Michigan as well. I'm on the West side of Michigan, in the suburbs of Grand Rapids. And I would rate the state of things here, probably three.

Mike: Three. All right. Thank you. And thank you for joining us. I do appreciate it. And yeah, I should have said it. Everyone here is either from Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin, the last three polls that we did. You’re all going to have that in common also. Jon, you're up next?

Jon: Hi, my name's Jon; I'm from Wisconsin. I would say born and raised, but I worked around the world kind of a little bit. I would say current state of America is like an eight, 8.5, nine, somewhere in between there.

Mike: Alright. Thank you very much. Julian right there.

Julian: Julian, I'm from Northeastern Pennsylvania. I would say that current state of Pennsylvania or the country is about a six.

Mike: About a six. Alright. And Leah.

Leah: Forgot to unmute.

Mike: Sorry. There you go.

Leah: Alright. I'm Leah. I'm from Wisconsin. And I'd say the country’s like, maybe, a three or four. Not too great though.

Mike: Maybe a three or four. Right. Let's see, Lisa.

Lisa: Hey everybody. I'm from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Grew up in Milwaukee, and I'd say probably about a five, also.

Mike: About a five. Alright. And then last, but not least, Mary right up there. Okay.

Mary: I'm from Southeastern Pennsylvania. I grew up in Ohio and Maryland, and I would give us like a five or six.

Mike: Five or six. All right. To start, before we kind of just dive into everything, I do just kind of want to focus on the issues that matter to you. Based on those numbers, I'm going to go with the highs and the lows to start things off. Joe, you gave us a three. Can you tell me a little about the thought process and the different issues that you weighed when considering that?

Joe: Well, it's really based upon the COVID, 19 epidemic, pandemic. Life has changed quite a bit for me. I've lost my...

Mike: I think, I think we're losing you, Joe. I think Jay might try to reach out.

Jon: Is his internet got cut off?

Mike: That's, it's the day, we, it's the day and age we live in. Everything is on Zoom now. He's back up. Joe, we got you back.

Joe: Okay. I'll tell you, my three is based on primarily the COVID-19 pandemic. Life's changed for a lot of people. I've lost my job. Pretty much immediately after that, in the microbrewing industry. And, I don't believe my job's coming back. That's why the doom and gloom, however, when a door closes another opens, probably, and things are actually looking up for me. But I would say, as the country in whole, I'm thinking we're not doing as well as we have in past years of my life.

Mike: How do you feel about how the government has handled COVID?

Joe: I do feel that we've done a decent job. I can only speak for what's happened to me in Michigan. I'm a, I think immediately we were, I think Michigan was one of the first States to respond to that. And, I think that that was a good way to slow the spread. I know Michigan got hit hard initially because of a lot of international travel, especially on the East side of the state. But I think we've done a really, a good job in slowing the spread of the virus.

Mike: Do you accredit that to Michigan or to the federal government? Who do you think’s handled -?

Joe: I definitely credit that to Michigan.

Mike: Any other thoughts on that. Thoughts on if you're happy with how the state conducted it or happy with how the federal government is conducting it? A show of hands here, who thinks, just in general, that the federal government has done a good job handling the coronavirus. Couple timid hands. All right. Who here thinks that your state in particular has done a good job handling Corona? Okay. A few more hands. Alright. We're definitely going to dive deeper into the coronavirus, but just follow up on the numbers. Jon, you're right there. You were our highest score. You were like 8.5 verging on nine. Can you tell me a little about that thought process?

Jon: Well, I don't see a lot of, I've barely watched the news. And just from talking with people that I interact with, with my job and on a day to day basis, a lot of the issues that are, I guess, quote unquote issues in today's day and age, I don't see why they are issues considering this kind of the laws that we have in place.

Mike: Like what type of issues?

Jon: Well, if the Black Lives Matter movement or how there's racial discrimination and the cop, police brutality? I don't, I, I'm, I was, I'm a big numbers guy, statistically wise, and I don't want to say that like, emotion doesn't play into a lot of the basis. And I feel that people are now today and day, day, and age, people are more sensitive to, more issues than they have in the past. But I think America is, in general, and people that I've talked to, I mean, it's kind of, I don't want to say business as usual considering this whole COVID thing, but for the most part, I think people are in a happy, conscious state of mind.

Mike: And do you think that President Trump has had an impact on race relations at all?

Jon: Yes. There's. I mean he negatively and positively, I guess.

Mike: Can you tell me a little more about that?

Jon: Well I know he has had, some big supporters with the black community, I guess, or African American community.

Mike: Who else here thinks, anyone else think, what's Trump's impact? Has Trump himself had an impact on race relations, either positive or negative, or, as Jon was kind of saying, do you think these issues have just always been underlying in society? And they're just getting a little more play right now?

Lisa: I think they've always been there.

Mike: It's you think that there's been an impact from the president or - ?

Lisa: I don't think so. I mean, you know, he's doing what he can. As best he can. Look what's up there.

Mary: Absolutely think that, he has been made out to be a racist by the media. I feel like the media is really inflaming the issue. I think they can take anything that Trump says and turn it into racist statement by him. He can say something fairly innocently, and it becomes racist. Because the media is against him.

Mike: Does anyone else feel like the media kind of plays a role in this, as well? Julian, what are your thoughts?

Julian: I feel like the media has such a big impact on today's world and community because it brings everything from everywhere, right into, like, your living room or wherever you have a TV or, and you could just watch it all happen. And then they're going to try and show a narrative of things that would make people angry. That way they would want to continue watching because they, like, need the ratings as well to remain profitable. It's like a mixture of, I believe, at least them doing, like, honest coverage, but then also throwing a little bit of bias in there just to get those ratings up.

Mike: What are some thoughts on the accuracy of what you're seeing in the media? You kind of brought up like the whole, like kind of silo thing where people do different outlets. There's a little, there's opinions involved in, sometimes, does anyone have any questions about just the accuracy of the news that they're seeing? Bryant? What are you thinking?

Bryant: Well, absolutely. I think the reason why I'm a five is because, personally, in my own life, things are going pretty well. I work in the banking industry and, you know, mortgages have been crazy. Rates are good, but, because we have access to 24 hour news, Twitter, Facebook, and everything is clickbait, and it's all about negativity and the most clicks you get, that's where you can feel kind of the - personally I'm okay. But I can see the world negatively, and that's where I'm in the middle of the five. And we all insulate ourselves with media that we like, if you're a conservative, you're probably going to watch Fox news. If you are more liberal, you'll probably watch CNN or MSNBC.

Mike: Leah, I believe if I'm looking at, you where my other three. Can you tell me a little about that?

Leah: The media does have a lot to do with it. Like, when they brought up the whole injecting bleach thing, like you've actually saw the clip where he was talking about that. That was taken way out of context. I'm not a personal Trump fan. I think he's done pretty good with the policies, but I mean, you can't even turn on, like, the late-night shows and not just see, like, the president getting torn apart. Like everything he says just becomes a joke. I think the media definitely plays into it, but I think he's kind of hurting himself a little bit. Just by the way he acts like a toddler.

Mike: I want to do, does everyone, I should have mentioned this at the beginning, but I think Mary might have. Does everyone have a paper and a pen handy? If you could, I want you to think in just a word or phrase, what is the one issue or just thing or matter issue that keeps you up at night? What's the one thing that you're most stressed out about right now? If you could just write that down, and then we're just going to go around the room quick and just see what people had to say. Just word or phrase, what's the biggest source of stress in your life right now? Pretty much. All right. And just don't overthink it just biggest source of stress right now. And then, when everyone's got one, if you can just, once you're all set, just raise your hand to let me know. All right. Just waiting on a couple. All right. I think I am going to go, I'm going to attempt to do a little bit of order to get something. Jon, you're in my bottom corner. All right. All right. Okay. Don't mind me while I take notes, but what is your one issue? Biggest source of stress.

Jon: Mine, I guess, would be the relationship with my ex-girlfriend. That's what really keeps me up at night.

Mike: Makes sense. Lisa, you're right next to Jon, for me. What's your biggest source?

Lisa: Probably healthcare.

Mike: Healthcare. Alright. How about you Bryant?

Bryant: Division.

Mike: Division. Kind of like that, what do you mean by that?

Bryant: I don't like how we're insulated, and just there's no conversation happening anymore, which we saw at the debate last night. It's, there's no talking to each other anymore. It's talking at each other.

Mike: Kind of like polarization?

Bryant: In everything in our life. Yes.

Mike: Julian, what'd you write down?

Julian: I just wrote down climate change.

Mike: Climate change. Cindi?

Cindi: The insurance health issues.

Mike: Insurance and health issues. Alright. And Mary?

Mary: I wrote down COVID.

Mike: COVID, alright. And Leah?

Leah: A little bit more specifically whether or not it's safe to send the kids to school.

Mike: Then how about you, Joe?

Joe: It's COVID, but it's disinformation at the same time, because I don't feel that I have the proper information to make good decisions, you know, because there's a, such an array of disinformation being thrown at me continually. That would be stresses me out the most is not having a good source for accurate information, especially when it comes to something like the COVID-19, because I do worry about my son, at school, quite a bit.

Mike: I'm not sure if it was in your particular survey, but one of the survey questions that we ask kind of has to do with that. Do you think, I'm going to ask, a show of hands, one of our questions is do you think the coronavirus is as big of a threat as it's portrayed? Or do you think there's a degree that it's blown out of proportion by the media? If you think that COVID is a little bit blown out of proportion by the media, raise your hand for me. Okay. And Julian, you're a little hesitant. Jon, I saw your hand raised, right?

Jon: Yes.

Mike: And who here, just so I can get a clear picture of thinks that it's not overblown, that it is the threat that we're facing right now. And Mary, you actually said COVID as your biggest concern right now. What factors? Basically, talk me through that a little bit.

Mary: I actually, I work in a clinic. The lab doing COVID testing. COVID business is booming right now. Because I'm in the healthcare profession, and my daughter-in-law is an ICU nurse, you know, I just, I know it's real. I, my degree is in microbiology and, you know, I feel very strongly that it's a very serious threat. I've been surprised how it's affected my life with, you know, the stress and uncertainty of it. Of course, my worst situation just kind of blew up, in the past few months, you know, to see how it's affected my children. You know, one of my kids is working for partial wages. My husband is out of the country and probably won't be allowed to come back until December because of COVID and travel restrictions. It's just, you know, I'm looking at COVID worldwide, how it's affecting other countries. And it just, I would say, this is like one of the few times I've really, I hear people saying it's a hoax and that type of stuff that just, you know, astounds me, that people could believe that, you know, something like this as a hoax and that it's not real and it's not as, significant as I believe it is.

Mike: When you were talking about other countries, how do you feel that our response has been compared to other countries?

Mary: I think we have done some right things. I'm really, personally, really frustrated when I hear, like, people, like, denying that masks are effective. That type of thing. Other countries, you know, like right now, like Brazil and India are, like, ranked two and three. And I really feel like, just because our healthcare is good and we have the amount of testing we do, I'm sure the numbers are quite more significant than what they're letting out to be. Also, I have, it's kind of funny, I had a, we knew a family in Wuhan when the virus broke out. I think going into it, I had a different perspective based on what I was hearing from them months ahead of time. I was following the story very closely as it was coming to the U.S. I already, I think I already had a different perspective that this is a significant problem. Before March, when it started.

Mike: Cindi, you said healthcare as, your health as your major issue. Can you talk me through what's on your mind with that?

Cindi: Well, I'm in that age group where I have to look at my health insurance, and I'm going on Medicare. And I have to have my supplemental and the costs are just out of sight. And they're talking, but, you know, I love the Affordable Care Act that nobody's able to afford, you know. And I do have some health issues, which makes it a little bit harder when you're looking at, you know, going onto Medicare and looking for supplements, you have to be very careful that you're not, you know, killed by your copays. And it's very frustrating.

Mike: Lisa, you mentioned healthcare. What were your thoughts?

Lisa: Sort of the same as Cindi. I'm probably a few years younger than she is, but I have some health issues, also. I just recently got approved for disability, and I'm playing the numbers game. Right now, I've got Medicaid, and I was told that, like two years down the road, since I've been on the disability, that I wouldn't have to worry about Medicare or any of that stuff. Well, last week I got information about Medicare, and I'm like, mmm, I didn't think this was coming for two years down the road. When all of a sudden, here it is, and I have to deal with it and figure it out. And my husband's been on insurance from the marketplace. And thank God for that, because like I said, he's got health issues too, and it's just, we need to figure out something. And everybody's talking about getting rid of the Obamacare, and I'm like, no, we can't. Because my husband hasn't had work insurance for quite some time. And if he didn't have the marketplace, I don't know what we would have done. Cause his medications are expensive.

Mike: Bryant, I saw you shaking your head a little bit about the Obamacare. What are your thoughts?

Bryant: Well, I just kind of want to go back to the question about the media and COVID, because my wife is an, yeah, my wife is an ICU nurse, we take it very seriously in our house. We wear masks wherever we go. My problem with the media goes into context. When they report deaths, I want to know what's the underlying conditions. I want to know the timeframe when testing took place, you know, as a parent, we had a daughter in December, and she had RSV and was in the hospital for three nights. When this all hit in March, we were terrified, and I would read news stories. The headline was negative, and it was just clickbait. Because down near the end, it would give the timeframe or how many kids got sick. And that's where I don't think it's a hoax at all. I think it's real clearly. I just wish the media would give context in the headlines, so, as a parent, I wouldn't be terrified all the time you watch. And regarding, regarding healthcare, it's infuriating to me, because I tend to try to be very political that for 10 years, Republicans have complained about it and they don't have a single plan to come into place.

Mike: That's my next. That was actually my next question. In terms of, can we talk a little bit about anyone, feel free to jump in, whether you think Obamacare should go? Do you think that you wish Trump did something on healthcare? Like what are your thoughts? You wish he did more? Do you want to just leave it as it is? Just what are your thoughts on that overall?

Lisa: Well, like I said, I'm glad we have it. Cause there were some points where I didn't have insurance either. If it wouldn't have been for Obamacare, we'd probably be sleeping in the van right now, because my medications are really expensive. There's one that I do once a month. That's upwards of between $10- to $15,000. There's no way on earth we could do that. And you know, my husband, he's got one medication that our copay is $65. I can't even imagine what that would be without the insurance.

Mike: There are a number of issues I want to talk about tonight, but I kind of just to summarize it up so I can go back and watch the video and dig into things.  If everyone can give me either a thumbs up, a medium, or a thumbs down on Trump's handling of COVID. Just so I can get a nice, sorry just overall, how you think Trump's handling of the response of coronavirus has been. Just overall thumbs up. He's doing a great job, eh, middle of the road, or you don't think he's done a good job. I see relatively split room. All right. I do appreciate that. I kind of want to switch gears a little bit and now think about, in terms of President Trump and how the government's handled it, the economy. I'm going to do the same exercise. Thumbs up, medium, or thumbs down of how you think the economy has been under President Trump. Thumbs up, do you think he's had a great impact on it? Medium, no. Or thumbs down, you think he's had a negative impact? See, I see a lot of, I see a lot of thumbs up, Joe. I see a thumbs down. Leah, I see a thumbs up. Can you talk to me a little about that in terms of President Trump and the economy, what your thoughts are?

Leah: He postponed us going into a recession initially, but I mean, everything's hitting. It's one of those, it's such a mixed issue, but it could have, it's holding it to such a low bar, but I mean, he could have done much worse. And I feel for all those small businesses out there, but I feel that it could have been to a higher degree. And I'm thankful that it hasn't, but I wouldn't say it's like, oh yeah, he did the best job ever. But I think he did what he could.

Mike: What did he do that you liked?

Leah: Well, number one, when he bought into those oil reserves, when all of this stuff first hit, that was a huge plus that really boosted a lot of areas for us. And, from there, there's been good things and bad things, but I mean, my general consensus of it is that he's doing a pretty good job, not the best, but. Pretty good job.

Mike: Joe, I believe you were a thumbs down. Can you talk to me a little about that?

Joe: I didn't, you know, I didn't like that, before he got into office, that his plan was to create a giant tax break for the ultra-wealthy. I just think they've had too many of those. And, you know, it's probably time that they started paying a little of that back. That was one thing that I wasn't a fan of before he took office. Cause I knew that was in his platform. However, he did give that tax break, and he gave another tax break…bring back some of the money that the big companies put offshore. To bring that money back into the country. Unfortunately, all they did was just buy back stocks in their own, you know, interests. That did boost the stock market. And the stock market went crazy, and 50% of the country that does have stocks in retirement accounts or wherever it is, you know, probably was, we're very happy about that. But in January 2017, one year after he was in the office and the stock market hit 26 K and it's been flat since, for almost three years, the stock market has been flat. And I don't see, you know, anything other than that giant $2 trillion tax break for the wealthy that boosted that market. Well, if that $2 trillion was given to the middle class in the order of $10,000 per working family, I think we would have done a better job in injecting that money back into this country.

Mike: Someone feel free to jump in. Who, other thoughts on just the economy and President Trump's role in it.

Mary: I think the economy has done well. I think given the terrible situation we've been in for the past six months, I think it's actually pretty remarkable that the stock market has recovered as much as it has. Since then, and given the current, you know, unknowns with all and all the job loss and immediate issues with COVID. I liked that over the past four years, I like the deregulation that Trump has done. I like the trade deals that he has done. I think part of the, Joe, what you referred to is like the flatness of the stock market, I think there was so much uncertainty with the trade deal with China that, I think that was holding the market back. But, all in all, I think that's been a strength of Trump is just handling the economy.

Mike: Show of hands. Does anyone have any nervousness or reservations about the economy if it were in Biden's hands? Or, do you think that economy is what it is? Just looking for thoughts on what you think an economy would be like under Joe Biden.

Mary: You're looking for show of hands?

Mike: Yes, show of hands, if you have any nervousness or feel free to honestly jump in if someone has thoughts, but nervousness about the economy under Biden. Cindi, what are those nerves? What are those reservations? Can you tell me a little about that?

Cindi: Well, he keeps telling us things, but not telling us he's going to do this. He's going to make the Economy, but how is he going to do it, you know, quit giving me lip service. Tell me what you want to do. You know, he's going to do all these tax cuts and then tax all of the people with incomes over 400,000. There aren't that many that I know that are going to be paying taxes on $400,000. I'm certainly not one of them. You know, both Trump and Biden are giving us lip service, and they're being petty children. I want to know what you're going to do, not what you're going to do against each other. You know, get out of nursery school and behave like adults and tell me what you want to do. And then I can make an informed decision as to who I want to vote for.

Mike: You feel like his plans are lacking a little specificity where you don't know what the plan is? Julian, I saw your hand up too. What's your reservations about the economy under Biden?

Julian: I feel as though, if he were to get elected and still like what the topic of Corona, that if it didn't get a lot better than by then he would implement another lock down perhaps. And, like, people would lose their jobs again. And it would be, like, restart the whole process. And there's still millions of people that haven't gotten jobs back that they lost in the beginning of the year. I feel like the people that did get theirs back to just lose them again and be stuck at home and not able to do anything that it would kind of ruin the economy and the job market all over again.

Mike: Before we move on, anyone have any other thoughts on the economy? Any things you think are going well, things you're nervous about?

Bryant: I'm nervous that Biden is the front guy. He said that he's a transitional candidate and that he's possibly a one-term candidate. And I don't like what's behind him. And that's sort of my trepidation for not voting for him, because I'm not sure what's behind him.

Mike: And Cindi, you kind of said something similar where, you know, you weren't, you don't know what the plan is. What would you like to hear? Like what could Biden say that would get your vote, then, in terms of the economy.

Cindi: Lay out a set of guidelines? You know, here's what I'd like to see happen.

Mike: What type of guidelines would you like to see? Like, if Biden were there, and he was going to just, if he was going to say something that would persuade your vote to vote for him in terms of the economy, what types of measures would you like to see him go through with?

Cindi: Hey, you know, I mean, he's right now, he's talking about, you know, if we go with Trump's, you know, plan, Social Security will be out of money by 2023. You know, I haven't heard anybody say too much about it, but I’d like you to show me or tell me how are you going to make it that it doesn't go defunct by 2023 you know. Explain to me, you know, what you can do better than what he's doing. That that is there, you know, I mean, he's telling us always going to cut the taxes that support it, you know, I'm sorry. He can't really cut the taxes that support it, because everybody pays social security tax. It comes out of your weekly paycheck or monthly paycheck, you know? Don’t lie to me. Just show me what you're going to do with that.

Mike: Okay. Any other thoughts on the economy or what you'd like to see? All right. Just switching gears, show of hands who watched the debate last night?

Cindi: I didn't watch all of it, but...

Mike: Or even parts? It was not a requirement for this focus group at all. I'm interested in, if anything you've seen or heard about the debate. Mary, just because I saw your hand up there last, what were your thoughts on the debate? Who won? Who lost? Did anyone win or lose? Was it a draw? What are your thoughts?

Mary: No, I initially, I watched, I watched like five minutes, and I just couldn't take any more of it. And I thought I'd hear, you know, the major points and, you know, on the news today. Especially Trump is he's just an idiot, and it just, just couldn't handle him and just can't...the whole thing was out of control.

Mike: Leah, I think I saw your hand, you watched the debate?

Leah: I sure did.

Mike: Thoughts?

Leah: Well, I mean, before seeing debates, I kind of thought at least Trump was like a familiar type evil that you knew which way he might go in the next presidency. And I really still had my eye on Biden with like having a cooler temper of being respectfully. It’s something I can tell my kids, this is our president. He speaks respectfully. After last night?  My kids can stay out of politics and be uninformed right now. Cause this is nothing that we want to repeat itself. The way Biden came back, I understand it was necessary he could get a word in, but really saying, “come on man, shut up”? Like that's presidential right there.

Mike: Did anyone hear any actual substantive issues or stances that you either really liked or you really either disliked by either candidate?

Joe: I can tell you the thing that stood out to me most and rung in my head over a couple of times directly after I heard it was when President Trump was asked to denounce white supremacist groups. He said, “stand down and stand by” eventually. And, to me, standby is another call to more violence. I don't live in a big city. I don't plan on it, but I understand there's a lot of problems in a lot of big cities. And problems with violence. And I think violence, you know, is on the rise and has been for the last few years, violence. And, I don't think that's, it was, the right thing to do. To, you know, stand firm and denounce it, especially when there are many cities going through riots and arson and all kinds of horrible things right now. That's the one thing that rung in my head over and over again, and it could have been handled a lot better, I believe.

Mike: And just sticking out, and we're gonna, believe it, we're going to stick to the debate, but, just since you brought it up, do you think, how do you feel like Trump's handled the riots? Do you think that, should he have done more? Should he have done less? How do you feel like I’m, not so much riots. I shouldn't say that. The protest in general. Just, what are your thoughts on that in terms of like Trump's interactions in dealing with it?

Joe: It's hard for me to say because I'm not there and, you know, I don't care to be there and I'm glad I'm not there. However, I think that it's horrible that it's happening. I don't know what I would do in his shoes. You know? I mean, the cities don't want federal intervention. I think federal intervention would be a little bit scary. I think the best thing to do is to, you know, not put any federal troops in; however, you could easily denounce the things that are going on and he can take a, the right side in my humble opinion and not promote any more of it.

Mike: Other thoughts on just a crime, who's the law and order candidate? Who do you trust better to deal with issues such as like the crime and the, like, protests and rioting? Does anyone here think that a Biden would do a better job than Trump in handling these?

Lisa: I think so. I think he would. Like I said before, I live in Milwaukee, and, my step kids, my grandkids, they all live in Kenosha. What all that stuff popped off. It scared the living bejesus out of me. We actually put my daughter, my stepdaughter in a hotel for the night because everything just got too close to home. It was too close to her neighborhood. Friend of mine lives down there, and my stepson lives down there and she went to his house. And just got out of that area and we've got the grandkids. And they all just kind of scattered as far away from that whole thing as they possibly could. I mean, we would've had them all up here if we could have, but he'll look up a two-bedroom apartment, so that wasn't happening. But yeah, it's just very scary what's going on? I think maybe, because. Biden has lost family members, that he knows what it's like to have someone, die through no fault of their own. I mean, I don't know about Trump. But I mean, just through his commercials, Biden saying about his wife and daughter, and they're losing his son to cancer, that just kind of like makes me feel like he's more human. You know, then Trump living in his ivory tower for, you know, a good portion of his life.

Joe: Trump's lost a few wives, hasn't he?

Lisa: I have no idea.

Joe: Good old Ivana.

Bryant: I find it infuriating. I don't know everyone else on the panel. Why is it hard for these jerks to get their heads out of their rears and say what needs to be said? There's obviously issues with, you know, cops stopping black people. There's obviously issues we're seeing it, but, at the same time, why can't you condemn the looting and the rioting? Again, this goes back to how I feel with division. It's like we're we have to pick a side and it's like, why can't you have both sides?

Mike: Who do you feel like isn't condemning the rooting and the looting and the rioting?

Bryant: I think there's those on the left. But then on the right, they're not condemning the vigilantism and the proud boys and those guys who stand up. It's like a pox on both houses. You both suck .

Mary: The right just isn't, like Trump, is not acknowledging, you know, what's behind the protest. The pain and the issues that have brought on the protests.

Bryant: Yes. Agreed.

Mike: I was actually going to ask, I'm thinking another one of the survey questions we asked is, are you more concerned at this point now, being a few weeks out, are you more concerned with the, like, protest turning into riots and the violence, or are you more concerned by the police actions against like Jacob Blake and George Floyd? If you could just talk, like what concerns you more the looting and the violence or the underlying issues causing that? Jon, I saw your hand first. Go ahead. What's up?

Jon: Yeah, I would say that the looting and rioting is more of an issue, more than quote unquote police brutality and a lot of these, I don't want to say media hype arrests, because I'm a firm believer that, you know, we have a three party system checks and balances. If a cop arrests you, they're under the executive branch of the government. They are not, they're not harassing you. They're not your, there's a reason why they're sent out to do that to a call or on-duty or pull you over. You know, there's a reason why there's, there's a reason or suspicion of why you're breaking the law. And with that being said, why don't you just, I just don't understand why people can't just take their ticket. Or you get arrested, spend him a little time in jail and then fight it in court. They have to fight things in the street or handle it there, but that's not how our system works in America. This is a time process that every bit. And I think that it stems more or less because of, I guess our "instant bliss on tap" society, where we're trying to just pump ourselves with dopamine and trying to, or I get more, get another, like on Instagram, Twitter, whatever. Whatever's going to make me famous that 15 minutes or 15 seconds of fame.

Mike: Other thoughts, other ones I'm comparing, like kind of weighing the looting and the violence versus the underlying issues causing the protests. Julian, what are you thinking? Lisa, go ahead, please.

Lisa: Both of them are horrible. But what leads to the looting and the violence is the way people react to police. Like Jon said, if you're being pulled over for something. Well, 99% of the time, a very good reason for it, just for the love of God, do what they tell you to do. If they tell you to stand on your head and twirl around five times, do it. If they tell you to get on the ground, spread eagle, do it.  It's a very simple thing you're told to do something. You do it. They're in a position of authority. There's a reason that they're there are, reason they stopped you or whatever the reason is just do it. I actually watched a video this afternoon of a woman. She was stopped because her car was on the hit list for being stolen. She, pardon my French, flipped a nut. Because she was innocent. She didn't do anything, this, that, and the other thing, there's people in the background they're screaming and yelling and carrying on and it wound up to this whole big thing. And then the next thing you see is her on the ground screaming and yelling. I can't breathe well, honey, if you're screaming and yelling, you can breathe just fine. And the next thing you see is her being booked for whatever she had done, I think she was kicking the police or whatever she was doing. And now, all of a sudden, she's calm, cool, and collected because she shut up long enough for the officers to finally explain to her why they had pulled her over. She admitted that they had, she had borrowed out her car, someone who borrowed it, did something they shouldn't have done. And that's why it was on the hot sheet for stolen. She's all calm and collected.

Mike: What do other people, do you agree? Do you disagree? Do you feel like a lot of it's on, on the individuals? Do you think there's anything on the police? What are other thoughts on this? Leah? Yeah.

Leah: Yes, I agree. There has to be compliance when you are addressing an officer. Absolutely. But the reasoning for having the interaction in the first place, have you ever been in the car with one of your African American friends driving and getting pulled over? Just because they just want to check in, you're going two miles over the speed limit. This is not out of the normal for people of color. For us? Yeah, we don't see it as an issue. We can drive through a neighborhood. We don't get pulled over for driving while black. Like these are very real issues compliance. Yes, absolutely. But we have a privilege that nobody wants to acknowledge, and I think that's, like, that has to be addressed.

Mike: Other thoughts?

Joe: I'll acknowledge that. I mean, I don't know how I’d feel if I was pulled over, you know, five times in a year for having a brake light out when I never had one out, but I'm sure there's black people that do know how that feels.

Bryant: And even Republican Senator Tim Scott and has been on the Senate floor, he said it. He's like, I don't believe in this, but I have been, or I don't want to enforce this ideology, but I have been pulled over and I think, as a parent, going off what you said, Leah, I am beyond grateful that I don't have to worry about that. There's emotion behind it. Yes, but I don't have to. It's not a discussion I have to have.

Mary: I agree. I think there needs to be more acknowledgement. There is a bias, there is a, you know, a bias against black people and being pulled over and, yes, compliance, but I think as white people, I don't think we can understand the cultural --  a different perspective that they have on police than that than we do.

Mike: Jon?

Jon: Well, yeah, actually, yes, you can actually experience that. Having a, I don't want to say being privileged, but being a minority in a country, I lived in Japan for seven years. And being, granted, being an American helps, but there are still a lot of prejudices that still exist in Japan, especially in the areas that I was living, because it's relatively close to where America dropped the bomb after, you know, during World War II. There's still a lot of that older generation that holds on to that hostility. You’re constantly looked at by the police. I had, if there was anything wrong that happened and I was in the area, I was constantly getting harassed about that. I understand that, but, yet again, I didn't hold a grudge towards the Japanese people or police, in general. It's just, that's just their, that's their cultural thing. it's, it's easy to experience racism, even if you're white.

Bryant: But you were an American in Japan, correct?

Jon: Correct.

Bryant: They're Americans in America. I think that again, you have to go off the numbers, but I think if Trump could just be an adult and acknowledge that there's something there instead of needing to beat the media. And have chaos for ratings. I think things would be different, but he can't bring himself to do it. And that's why I think a lot of us on this panel are undecided.

Mike: Do you think Joe Biden would do a better job?

Jon: Well, why is it, I don't mean to cut you off, but why is it only down between Biden and Trump when there are other candidates like Jo Jorgensen? She's a perfectly good candidate, but, yet again, she won't be allowed to debate with them on stage.

Bryant: I don't disagree with that.

Joe: I think, Biden would do a better job, yes.

Mike: You do? What makes you say that?

Joe: Just, I think that Trump has some incorrect talents, and one of them is to zoom in on one-issue voters and secure that block of votes. And he has done that very well. And he might even be a genius level, as far as that goes. I mean, when you hear him say, stand down and stand by, and slip that in there. He has just secured the white supremacist vote in his first debate. I think that Joe Biden is more of a general, would appeal more generally to people's feelings rather than, you know, have to take a side to secure the one issue voters.

Mike: Does anyone agree with that?

Mary: I think that's insightful, that looking at him as like a one-issue voter. He definitely taps on certain issues very strongly.

Bryant: Do you think that was his strongest before the white supremacist comment? The debate last night, I felt like that was his strongest argument against Biden was that Biden could not name a single police force that endorsed him. Before we got to that point, I thought Trump had hit a home run on that issue. That Biden could not name someone who endorsed him for president who was in law enforcement.

Joe: Well, except for the 500 generals, the military or whatever, you know, sign that letter a couple of weeks ago.

Bryant: I agree, but...

Joe: And, Biden is definitely pro-union, instead of a union Buster. Maybe he wasn't able to name one, but I'd be surprised if there wasn't plenty of them.

Bryant: Oh, absolutely. I just meant that, in the debate performance, I thought that was one of Trump's stronger, before the white supremacists. I thought that was one of his strongest moments.

Mike: I'm glad you brought it back to the debate, and I'm glad you brought that up. What other moments, is there anything else, anyone who watched the debate or, even if you didn't, anything you've heard about today, what other moments stuck out in your head? Either as a positive or as a negative?

Cindi: I was getting very tired of them picking at each other's families. This entire race has got nothing to do with, you know, Beau Biden or any of the Trump kids. This is between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. They're the ones that are wanting to be our commander-in-chief. Don't pick on the kids, you know. Leave families out of it. And I thought, you know, that constant bickering, you know, it reminded me of preschoolers having temper tantrums. I mean, it was really disgusting.

Mike: Did the debate for anyone, did the debate sway you one way or another? Did it have an impact on you where it really pushed you into the corner for one candidate or, even if not into the corner for one candidate, against another candidate? Did it have any kind of lasting impact on your vote?

Cindi: No.

Mary: Nope.

Joe: No.

Bryant: No.

Mike: What are some issues you wish they had talked about? What do you think, what are the types of things you they could have talked about that you think would have kind of pulled you away or pushed you towards or pulled you from someone?

Joe: I think, just in general, and I don't want to hog the airtime, but I tuned in because I was hoping to learn something. It is really hard to take anything away and it's actually, it was quite exhausting to, you know, watch the entire debate. But it's hard to take anything away when there's much bickering, and I've watched, you know, plenty of presidential debates over the last 25 years. And, you know, in the last few years it's turned into this, you know, shouting match, and it's hard to get any real information out of it, you know, because you know, it, none of it, what people say may or may not be true now. Before, you know, it was a big deal. If you lied now, it's not such a big deal.

Lisa: I didn't watch it. I heard a little bit about it, but, from what I did [inaudible] on the news, it seemed like an episode of Jerry Springer. People were just yelling back and forth and yell and yelling, and it gets to a point where everything beeped so out much, you don't get anything out it anyway.

Mike: Jon, what were you going to say?

Jon: I was going to say, like, did they even touch issues about state sovereignty and, like, federal oversight? Because those are issues, like, that are important to me. Cause I'm like small business owner. I like that I don't have to pay more business taxes, and I get to keep a little bit more of my own hard earned money.

Bryant: I don't think it was an issues debate.

Mike: Jon just mentioned taxes, being a small business owner, something that he would have really loved to hear and kind of could have pulled him one direction or another. What other issues? What if, there's two more of these debates coming up. Assuming they're a little more substantive, what do you guys want to hear from them? What are the issues?

Bryant: Healthcare. Find out what their plan is for healthcare.

Cindi: Here's something that they want to do, you know, that they think is going to help. You know what I mean? I keep hearing, you know, Obamacare, the affordable care, but who can afford it? You know? I mean, thankfully I have, I'm insured through my company. I mean, I have to pay a portion of it, but thankfully I do have that, or I would have been bankrupt.

Mike: Healthcare is a big voting issue for you?

Cindi: Yes.

Mike: Who do you trust more for healthcare? Trump or Biden?

Cindi: Neither one.

Mike: Yes. What could one of them say that would get you? What are you looking for that would get you into one of their corners?

Cindi: I want you, I would like to see a plan for what they want to do with Medicare, because, as I said, I'm in that age group by, you know, my next step, you know. And how are you going to protect it? You know, I mean, Biden right now is saying, ‘yes, I'm going to protect it,’ but how were you going to protect it? Just getting up there and telling me I'm going to protect it. Telling me nothing. I want to know what you're going to do and what I need to do to help you.

Mike: Opening this up to everyone. What are the, what's the voting issue for you? Like if you had to come down to one issue that is going to be, when you go to the polls and you have to pull one of those levers, what is going to be the issue that you're thinking about? Julian. What's gonna get you to the polls? What issue?

Julian: Climate change.

Mike: Climate change. And you said that earlier, I meant to bring that back up. Tell me your thoughts on that. Who do you trust to deal with climate change? Who don't you trust to deal with? It is your underlying thoughts.

Julian: Currently I feel like that's the biggest issue for younger voters because that's what's going to affect us the most in, like, the upcoming, like, next couple of decades or whatever. But I feel like Joe Biden would be the better candidate for that, obviously, because Donald Trump doesn't even, like, acknowledge that it is a problem and that it is getting worse. And that the like natural disasters are getting worse and everything. That’s like, what's kind of driving me away from Trump, but I feel as though, if he would just acknowledge it and propose a plan to combat it and just like even would have stayed in like the Paris Climate Accords, that would draw a lot more voters to his, like, camp. And it would, like, just make things a lot easier and make me feel a lot better voting for him compared to, like, Joe Biden.

Mike: We've got about a half hour left. I'm going to get, we're gonna, it's done based on the election and who you're going to vote for. It's kind of been, kind of, the context rather than we've talked about so far. We talked about the issues driving you, and now I'm going to ask the hard questions. You said climate change is a big voting issue for you. Are you going to vote for Trump or Biden?

Julian: I don't know. I want to vote for Trump, but if he doesn't acknowledge it or anything. I like, I don't know. It'll be an Election Day decision currently. I'm hoping that he does something more and, like, when it comes closer to it, will acknowledge that that is a bigger issue to try to have some more voters.

Mike: Other people, what just, what is the, think about the voting issue? What is going to drive you to the polls? It doesn't have to necessarily be which candidate right now, but, just, what's going to drive you to actually go to the polls and do it. Mary?

Mary: One thing for me is the Supreme Court situation. One of the reasons that I voted for Trump's four years ago was because, you know, I believe that I'm more conservative point of view, and I knew, you know, there'd be opportunity to nominate Supreme Court justices. I think thinking about this, if you, if he were to appoint a new [Supreme Court Justice] before the election, that would - You know what, I actually more strongly consider not voting for Trump if you have, you know, you already installed the, the current nominee. For me, I would feel better voting for Trump, too, if I felt like he were handling for me the whole COVID situation, if he were handling it more responsibly, if he acknowledged Dr. Fauci as a, as an expert, if he had acknowledged the World Health Organization, if he acknowledged the CDC as having the expertise that they have. I don't know what I'm going to do.

Mike: Jon, I think you were about to say something?

Jon: I was going to say, well, there's, like, the CDC is the same organization that kind of went back on its word about how the severity, I guess you can say, of the COVID, and even the World Health Organization. I mean the, like the mask mandate, they were saying that you have to wear a mask, and then all of a sudden, well, if you're only showing symptoms of it, then you have to, and that's like, I agree with that more.

Mary: I don't, like, initially, I don't think they knew that it was as transmitted by the air as it was. I, you know, it's in March, they only had like two months experience dealing with it. Like six months, we have a lot more experience understanding it.

Jon: Well, there's still a lot of data from other countries that were dealing with it. You know too they're like we as a nation, that's one of the perks of globalization. As we get to share information, when we trade information with other countries, when it comes to stuff like that and have organizations like the UN, the World Health Organization, where it's kind of a, like an open source for data.

Mary: Well, I agree. I believe that the World Health Organization is in the process of processing and understanding information, but for Trump to say, and I can see, you know, ‘I’m going to discount [what] the World Health Organization is telling me’? I don't think that's a smart move.

Mike: Mary, you said something that was interesting, and I actually wanted to bring up the Supreme Court. Who here, show of hands, thinks, raise your hand, if you think President Trump should try to fill that Supreme Court vacancy before the election? All right. I'm not seeing too many hands, but I want to hear a little bit about that. Leah, you think that should wait until the next president? You think whoever gets elected November? Just what are your thoughts on that?

Leah: Oh, I think more consideration needs to go into it. Just her stance alone on Roe versus Wade concerns me. Quite a bit. It's like having a woman where we want a woman, but not having any of the insight from a woman that we desire. She doesn't share a lot of popular opinions, and, you know, she's in a pretty high position. And I think, honestly, there should have been more thought put into it, and the country should have more say into who is going to be filling that seat.

Mike: Who are you gonna vote for? Leah, Trump or Biden?

Leah: I don't know right now; probably writing in The Rock for all I know.

Mike: Show of hands. Does anyone know at this point, I feel like if you had to decide today, is anyone still, are you, I want to ask if you're all undecided, but I'm getting that vibe. Has anyone made up their mind?

Lisa: Well I think...

Mike: And what will it take to make up your mind? Lisa?

Lisa: I'm one of the absentee voters, my ballot is sitting in my mailbox right now for me to go ahead and fill out. I don't have the ability to wait until November, whatever it is, the third or whatever it is to mull over all this. I have to decide pretty quickly who I want to vote for without getting all of the information. But, that being said, I think I've always kind of leaned toward Biden for some reason. Maybe just -

Mike: What's that reason?

Lisa: Maybe it's just because he seems more human than Trump. For whatever...I think maybe it goes right back to having lost members of his family and having to deal with his son's cancer and, you know, losing his son and all that kind of thing makes him seem a little bit more human. He seems like more of, one of us, so to speak. You know?

Mike: And you brought up a good point about mail-in and absentee voting. I'm curious. Who here is going to be voting in person? Show of hands, who's going to show up on Election Day and vote in person. Joe, you're going to. Jon. Cindi, how are you voting?

Cindi: Voting absentee. But the area that I live in, we have a drop box over at our city hall. And I can just drive over there, which is a mile and a half away and drop it in the drop box.

Mike: Is it convenience? Why not in person? Are there worries there? What's your thoughts?

Cindi: Well, I've been absentee voting because the position that I work many times I am called out of town. I have just gone to absentee because of that reason, because, last election, the day before election, I left for California and was gone for two and a half weeks. It was just easier. And I wasn't sure if I was going to get called out or not. So -

Mike: It looked like the majority of you are not going to be voting in person. Are there any concerns due to coronavirus or is it a convenience factor? Like, Mary, what was your thought process?

Mary: Well, actually I'm having knee surgery in October, and I just thought it'd be easier to do it for absentee and not have to worry about getting there.

Mike: How about you Leah?

Leah: Several people in our home are immunocompromised; we're kind of in lockdown status.

Mike: Does anyone have any concerns about voter fraud due to all the absentee and mail-in ballots that's going to happen? Is that a concern for people? Bryant? I see you shaking your head. What are your thoughts on that?

Bryant: No, we've been voting by mail for years. I think it's just another one of those, like Joe said, Trump's good at homing in on that one issue. And now he's homing it.

Mike: Anyone have concerns that there would, there's actually, pretty much just concerns about the accuracy of the election results, in general?

Leah: Well, I mean, I don't know about you guys, but I don't even get my mail every day now. Cause we don't have a regular person for our route anymore. I mean them being overworked. And we have several friends that actually worked down in Madison in HR. And one of the, you know, her husband is a mail carrier. They are overworked. They work their eight hours delivering what they can deliver. And after that, the rest is for the next day, how that's going to impact with the increase of packages and people voting and just regular mail altogether. I think they might have to, I mean, I know they're going a couple of days past a countdown, but I'm still concerned that they're going to be able to count them all or get them all there.

Cindi: Michigan, I know has implemented a drop box. They have added, at least in my city, they've added three drop boxes, three additional, and they've done this throughout the entire state. And as far as Michigan voter fraud, they have checks and measures in place that will allow them not to vote more than once having absentee ballot it's recorded. It's all electronic now. Now, of course, there could be fraud if you had a, you know, a mass attack on the internet, but we hope that that does not happen.

Lisa: Here, I know Wisconsin has drop boxes too. I know Milwaukee does. And that's probably what I'll do myself. It's just, I'm always running around the city anyway. I'll just find a drop box and pop it in there.

Jon: How can you verify yourself over the internet to vote?

Cindi: In Michigan, you can log into michigan.gov. I can't remember the exact website, but it shows that it has been logged in to the system.

Jon: And that can't be compromised at all.

Cindi: They say that it's secure. I mean, I guess anything could be compromised.

Mike: Jon, you have some worries about voter fraud?

Jon: Well, I don't really have worries about it, but I just know that, that I just know more that like voting online, anything you, Facebook can get hacked. I mean, it's, and I know, government websites have gotten hacked before, and I don't want to say that they're. I'm not very tech savvy in that sense, I guess you can say, but I know there's cases and incidents of it before. And knowing how, like, when they implemented Obamacare, the website crashed within first day. There, I guess, in a sense, yes, it does worry me if that's the only way that you can vote or, I know there's not the only way, but if that's a portion of the way that you can vote.

Mike: All right. We have about 15 minutes left. We're going to do one more exercise where I'm going to have you write some, just a word or phrase down. One word or phrase each. Trump and Biden just how you would describe them. How would you describe your own feelings? Keep it short, keep it sweet. Don't overthink it. Just, what is your kind of gut reaction to Joe Biden? And what's kind of your gut reaction where to Donald Trump? All right. I'm going to start in my other upper hand corner because of Mary. It looks like you're done. Am I correct in that?

Mary: First thoughts. And I've heard this word used tonight. Trump: preschooler, and Joe Biden, I, the word that comes to mind for him is blah.

Mike: I'm going to dive into some of these, but I want to make sure I, before I lose you guys, that I have everyone go around. Leah, you're next to Mary for me.

Leah: Okay. I'd definitely go with either a toddler, like I said earlier, just very un-presidential and the way he projects himself. Biden I can't get a feel on, I just, I can't come up with a word. I just, I don't get a read on him.

Mike: No read is a read. I understand. Joe, how about you?

Joe: My opinion of Biden is that he is frail and a bit weak. And my opinion of Trump is maybe the opposite where he's more of a bully and quite a bit overbearing and maybe a buffoon because of that.

Mike: Cindi, how about you for Trump?

Cindi: Preschooler. And Biden is wishy-washy.

Mike: Okay. I'm starting to see some themes here. Alright, Julian.

Julian: For Trump, I put that he's like crude or rude but effective, like getting stuff done. And, for Biden, I just put, like, I kind of chose said old and frail.

Mike: All right. And Bryant.

Bryant: For Trump, I had ego and chaos, and, for Biden, I had old and career politician.

Mike: Lisa?

Lisa: Well for Trump, I have privileged, and, for Biden, the first word I put up there was normal.

Mike: Normal came to mind. And, Jon?

Jon: I would put, for Biden, ineffective, and, for Trump, I'd put shrewd or crass.

Mike: I, all right. Just to kind of real quick. On Biden's, we had ego, chaos, preschooler or, I'm sorry. These are Trump's: ego, chaos, preschool, or bully, crude, a crude but effective toddler, preschooler, privilege. Biden's, we had an old career politician, wishy-washy, frail, weak, ineffective, didn't really have a read, just normal, and blah. I feel like there's some themes there. I want to talk a little about, do you think you're going to ultimately be voting for a candidate or against a candidate?  Julian, you said crude but effective. Can you tell me a little about that? Like, and maybe your impression of him, like personally, versus your thoughts on the issue, just in general, what led you to say crude but effective?

Julian: Trump is always, like, known for just saying kind of whatever comes first and not really thinking things through, and it like offends some people, and, it makes, like points fingers at others and everything. But when he has to get stuff done, like it gets done. Like he got the trade deals done. He negotiated peace deals between like Israel and Kosovo and three other countries. He's, I don't know, he's getting things done. He's like raising the economy and everything. It's just, he's no, good at looking and acting like a, like trying to win people over.

Mike: Other thoughts?

Mary: I think, like, and when thinking about voting against someone like four years ago, quite honestly, it was very, it was easier to vote for Trump because, you know, I really disliked Hillary a lot, you know? It was easy to kind of vote against Hillary, even though I still had to kind of hold my nose to vote for Trump. But I guess I disagree with Biden less, although, I dislike Biden less, even though I disagree with him on most things.

Mike: I mean, other thoughts on that, Cindi, you said preschooler and then wishy-washy. Can you give me a little for, in terms of Biden, can you give me a little of the context behind wishy-washy?

Cindi: He doesn't stick to one subject. He won't come out and put his cards on the table is -

Mary: Well, like Bryant said, he's a career politician.

Cindi: Yeah, exactly, exactly. And what has he done over the 47 years that he's been in politics? I question, you know, what he's done, because I can't see that he's done that much.

Mike: And, just throwing this out to the group, is 47 years in politics? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Lisa: I think it's a bad thing.

Mike: Why is that Lisa?

Lisa: Because after 47 years, you've just become stuck in your ways, that you can't and, let's put this, he's old, no offense to anybody, but he's from a way different generation than even myself. And especially Julian, who's probably a few years younger than my son, and I just can't imagine him trying to tell the younger generation what to do and how to live their lives, but he's got no clue. Absolutely what these kids need.

Jon: What are you talking about? He had an interview with Cardi B.

Lisa: Oh yay.

Jon: Number one artist in America right now. Of course, he's in tune with the people.

Joe: Someone whose 80 years old wants the job of president? I have no idea.

Mike: Joe, I was actually just going to come to you. You said frail slash weak. Mentally, physically position-wise, give me a little, just your thought process: why frail slash week for Biden?

Joe: That's just how he appears. I mean, you know, the first thing that comes to my mind when I see him, if I listen to him, I think he, you know, is more along my level where a, you know, he's a little bit, bit calmer and makes a little more sense to me. The last time I voted. Three and a half or years ago, I probably voted against someone. I was probably going to vote for Hillary Clinton, but then things were exposed directly before the election that I didn't like and that kind of put a bad flavor in my mouth towards career politicians and establishment, political candidates. And, Joe is another one of those. That’s certainly one of the things holding me back from him. Cause I still have that bad flavor in my mouth. I would say that, last time I voted against someone, and I don't know what I'm going to do this time.

Mike: Looking back at the Trump words, I'm seeing preschooler, toddler, crude, bully. Does anyone here? I'm going to think about a question on our survey: favorable or unfavorable impression. Does anyone have a favorable impression of just Trump personally? But I'm sensing that, and I'm looking at results from the survey, there's a lot of Trump supporters. Can we talk just a little bit about that disconnect between, you know, why support someone that you don't have, that you would say unfavorable impression towards?

Mary: Like Julian said, he's effective.

Mike: You said its cause he's effective. Yeah, just, I know Julian went in a little bit, but Mary, what do you think he's been effective at?

Mary: Like I said, trade deals, deregulating, business-wise, you know, like, for, like, small business owners like Jon. The peace accord with, like, the Arab nations right now, I'm actually pretty impressed with.  I feel like the people he appoints are effective at what they do also.

Mike: Is there anyone, but pretty much favorable or unfavorable impression of Biden? I'm, I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth, but it seems like, there seems like there's a, the consensus is unfavorable impression of Trump, but he'd be effective. What are thoughts on Biden in terms of just favorability and his effective level?

Bryant: I think.

Mike: Does anyone think - ? Go ahead, Bryant.

Bryant: I think we're just exhausted of the reality show to a certain degree. Biden is the calming factor. But the problem is like, Joe, you said it's really hard for someone who's been in politics for 47 years to come in and say to the guy who has been in for three years: ‘this is all your fault.’ How, what's the connection there? For example, the tax story. Trump didn't write the tax code. No, I'm not sure. I don't know if there's anything illegal there. Biden, you were a part of the government that wrote that tax code, and we all take deductions. How can you attack him on that? That's, I think for me, when I go into the voting booth on, or when I do absentee, because my wife works, and I have daycare and it just doesn't work. It's going to come down to personality versus policy, and I'm still on the fence about it.

Mike: Why are you going to vote for a personality? You're gonna vote for policy?

Bryant: I don't know yet. If I'm going to be able to tell you, I'll probably it [inaudible]

Mike: If the election were held today, gut, I'm looking for the gut reactions. I'm going to just go around the room, Joe: Trump or Biden or how would you vote?

Joe: Okay. The last time I decided on the night before the election, because Trump came to Grand Rapids and did a rally that night. I made 200 tee shirts that said “Grab America by the Pussy” and sold them all in about three hours. Then, I felt really good about casting my vote for Trump, because I still felt that I was in Hilary's camp. Because, if someone handed Hillary $3,000, she would do whatever they wanted. It’ll be the same way, but it would be Biden right now just because of the not being able to isolate yourself from white supremacy.

Mike: Leah: Trump or Biden? You had to decide today.

Leah: I'd write in.

Mike: You'd write in; that's you're right. Mary: Trump or Biden?

Mary: I think I'd have to, I'd have to go with policy, and I think I'd have to go with Trump.

Mike: Julian?

Julian: Trump.

Mike: Trump. Cindi?

Cindi: Write in or vote for the lesser candidates.

Mike: Jon?

Jon: Still Joe Jorgensen and Jeremy Cohen.

Mike: Lisa.

Lisa: Biden.

Mike: Biden. And Bryant?

Bryant: Trump.

Mike: Okay. Trump. Alright, I've got one-minute left before I just say thank you so much for your time. I do want to end on a positive note. If we could think, just think of one word or just one issue, what's something you're optimistic for about the future? It doesn't even have to be politics. It doesn't have to be related to Trump or Biden. Just, what's something that you're optimistic, you're feeling good about right now? I'm going to give you -

Lisa: Finally being able to go and see my son's new house and his puppy after all of this COVID crap is done with.

Mike: Other things, what do you what's good in life right now?

Leah: It would be nice to actually go through with the formal wedding and have our honeymoon. That would be cool.

Mike: It gives you something to look forward to. Is there anyone else? Just anything, a top of your mind, you're just, it's a good mood, you're happy about right now?

Joe: Absolutely. Because I lost my job in the micro brewing industry, my son and I have been traveling the country and picking up motorcycles and ATVs and bring them back to Michigan. Selling them to make ends meet. And we leave every couple of weeks and I get to be next to my boy for 10-hour days, a foot and a half away from him. He's doing school online. Everything’s working out there. He loves taking trips with me now; we turned them into pretty cool little vacations were the person that we pick a quad up from will tell us something cool about their geographic area, and we'll spend a day exploring it. I've been exploring the country for the summer, and I love it.

Mike: That sounds like a good time. Cindi, how about you? What's just something you're positive about right now?

Cindi: Oh, that I'm starting to feel a little bit better, you know? We seem to see light at the end of the tunnel with the medical issue that I've been fighting with.

Mike: I'm glad to hear that. And Jon something positive?

Jon: Oh, the travel ban will be lifted worldwide, and I get back to traveling.

Mike: Where are you going to go first?

Jon: Oh, Japan, Japan. Back to Japan. Gotta get a haircut, man.

Mike: Let's see, Bryant, something you're positive about.

Bryant: I have a two-year-old and a nine-month-old at home; they keep things interesting.

Mike: You've got your hands full! And Julian, real quick, something you're positive about.

Julian: I'm just happy that it's fall and time outside and see what it's like.

Mike: And Mary, wrap us up.

Mary: I really enjoyed my garden. We got to do a lot of gardening this summer, and I'm looking forward to some overseas travel when I can again.

Mike: Alright everyone, thank you very much for your time tonight.

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