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The Climate is Changing But Attitudes About It Aren’t: Polling Climate Change Over the Years

For the first time in presidential debate history, climate change was one of the focus issues last week in Nashville. And you might say, it’s about time. How so?

We’ve been talking about climate change for a long time. And, as it turns out, we’ve been saying a lot of the same things, and agreeing on a lot of the same solutions for a long time as well.

Since 2006, multiple surveys have shown roughly 2 in 3 Americans recognize climate change as a real threat and a relevant issue. But only this year, for the first time in an election year, has it cracked the top 3 issues Americans identify as important.

In a recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll, 11% of those surveyed identified climate change as the biggest issue facing the country, placing third after the economy (20%) and coronavirus (13%), but coming in ahead of other hot-button issues such as health care (8%), race relations (8%), and immigration (3%).

And last month in honor of Climate Week, an art project in New York City’s Union Square was reprogrammed as a “Climate Clock” counting down to the point at which some scientists argue climate changes will be irreversible.

So, we wanted to understand how attitudes about climate change have, well, changed over the years.

Let’s start in May 2006, when Al Gore released his Oscar-winning climate change documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. It was among the first widely-seen warnings about what was then more commonly known as global warming. Around that time, the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes polled Americans about whether they favored or opposed legislation limiting US emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Nearly seven in ten respondents (68%) favored such legislation.

A few years later in 2008, the year polar bears were first listed as “threatened” by the U.S. Government in part due to polar ice melt, another survey found similar results. American Solutions for Winning the Future showed 65% of Americans were either very concerned or somewhat concerned about climate change.

In 2012 Hurricane Sandy caused significant damage in seven countries from the Caribbean to Canada. Climate scientists linked the size of the storm (the largest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded) to the changing climate. A poll that year conducted by ORC International reported 66% of Americans viewed climate change as a real threat and that action was needed now or in the future.

Five years later, as the devastating 2017 fire season wreaked havoc in California, we framed a climate change question in economic terms since many politicians had argued addressing it would harm the economy. We asked Americans if they thought “addressing climate change should be given priority even at the risk of slowing economic growth”? A majority (57%) did.

Which brings us to this moment in time when climate change seems to have moved from an issue that a majority of Americans cared about, to one they believe is a top priority. We’ll keep polling to see if it stays that way.

This post was written by Marist Poll “College 2 Career” intern Sarah DeBellis.

Battleground State Focus Group of Persuadable Voters

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.


Moderator: Mike Conte, Director of Research & Data Analysis
Participants: Bryant, Cindi, Joe, Jon, Julian, Leah, Lisa, Mary


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 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.


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 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.

Digging Into Pennsylvania

A focus group of suburban women who are registered to vote in Pennsylvania


Moderator: Mike Conte, Director of Research & Data Analysis

Participants: Ann, Bella, Jacintha, Kathi, Melissa, Nina, Shayna, Siobhan


This Marist Poll virtual focus group of suburban women who are registered to vote in Pennsylvania was conducted on Tuesday, September 15th 2020, from 7:00pm to 8:30pm. The participants were recruited from a RDD Marist Poll conducted by live interviewers via telephone of Pennsylvania residents from August 31st through September 7th, 2020. Full results of the Pennsylvania poll may be found here. 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, virtual 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 demographic qualifications for the focus group, in this case, women registered to vote in the state of Pennsylvania who identify themselves as residing in the suburbs or small cities of the state. This list of potential participants was then re-contacted via telephone by live interviewers to invite their participation in the virtual focus group. In order to participate, 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.

Mike: We appreciate you letting us take the opportunity to follow up on some of the opinions you gave us in the surveys you took. I think it was either last week or the week before. So, if you take a look around the room, I think you’ll notice something. Tonight, we are talking to all women.

We were looking to do a focus group of Pennsylvania female voters because obviously – yup. (Clap, clap). Obviously, you are a very important voting block, key demographic. So, wanted to make sure we really take an opportunity to dive into your opinions.

I’m just going to start with a couple of guidelines, ground rules, type things. So basically, I want you to think of this as less as an interview where I ask you questions, looking for specific answers, more as a conversation. I do have a list of questions and topics I want to cover, but I’m more throwing those out there, as conversation starters. So, feel free to roll off each other, jump in when you feel like you have something to say. You don’t necessarily have to give an answer to every question, but please feel free to jump in whenever you have something to say. I do want to hear from everyone. I know it’s a little hard on Zoom with the technology, so just do our best, not to speak over anybody. I think there’s going to be a lot of hand raising tonight, things like that, but again, a lot more conversation-based than the type of interview that you conducted over the phone with us.

If you need to get up, go to the bathroom, grab a drink or anything, feel free to do so; I do just ask that we try to limit that, just because we do only have an hour and a half tonight and I have a wide range of topics I hope to cover. So, one other thing is I do have, as I mentioned, I do have a topic guide that I’m loosely following. If you’re talking and you see my eyes darting around all over the place taking notes, it is not because I’m not paying attention to you. It’s just because I’m trying to jot something down to bring up later or take notes on what you said.

Also, I know – and you could probably tell already – I am a fast talker, sometimes a little too fast. So, if I say something that, you just didn’t catch, or you need me to repeat anything, please do not hesitate.

Just raise your hand – raise your hand, or just be like, “Hey Mike, slow down. What was that you said?” ask me to repeat myself. I thought we could just start with a couple introductions. Basically, I’m just going to go around the room. I’m not sure if we’re all looking at the same order of squares, so I’m just going to call out by name in alphabetical order to make sure I don’t miss anyone. And if we could just basically say, what’s your name? Where you grew up; what do you do for a living? And if you have any kids or pets?

Also, just to start, I would like you to tell me on a scale of one to 10, so just in general, how would you rate the state of America today? I’m just looking for a zero to 10 answer. Zero meaning things are absolutely terrible. Ten meaning everything is going absolutely great and wonderful. I know it’s a vague question, “What’s the state of America today?” But I want it to be a little bit of a vague question. So, if I could go ahead and start with Ann. So again, just where you grew up; what you do for a living; any kids or pets and scale of zero to 10, how you think the state of America’s going right now?

Ann: Okay. I was born in Pittsburgh, raised in Jersey, lived in Texas. I am a college professor now, but I was a working RN for 35 years. [inaudible] How do I If you had to just peg it on a zero to 10 scale.

Ann: I’m going to say seven over 10.

Mike: Seven over 10. All right. Thank you very much. And thanks so much for joining us tonight. So, Bella.

Bella: Hey! So I am from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I am currently a music education major at Penn State University. I don’t have any kids.

Mike: Same here. I forgot to mention that. I do have a – I do have a very obese cat, but that’s about it.

Bella: We have the family dog; she’s old. The state of America today.

Mike: So just your gut zero to 10 scale.

Bella:I’m gonna have to say a three.

Mike: Alright. Alright. And we will be digging into these numbers, so I do appreciate it. So if I could talk to… Jacintha.

Jacintha: Yes.

Mike: Am I saying that correctly?

Jacintha: You are saying that correctly. Everyone asks that question. I’m actually from Scranton, Pennsylvania; that’s Joe Biden’s hometown.

Mike: Alright.

Jacintha:I’m actually living slightly outside of…we’re in the outside area of Scranton, but – so we’re a suburb. I’m currently retired. I was – I spent 30 years in higher education. I was a teacher and an administrator in social services, and I spent another nine years in public service working for social security.

The kids are grown. There’s no pets. And, I am very fearful about the state of America. So, I’m going to – zero.

Mike: Going with a zero. Alright.

Jacintha: I’m going with an absolute zero.

Mike: So are you – is Scranton more known for Joe Biden’s hometown, at this point, or for The Office? I had to ask.

Jacintha: It kind of – I think it depends on your age. You know, our – our college kids – that was a period in which I was employed in Higher Ed and that’s what Scranton was known for – so that – that was – that was well known. I think – so I think it depends on your generation what Scranton was home – was home to. We also connect with Hillary Clinton. So that’s – that’s another, you know, that we come back to. So I think that really depends on- on your age and generation.

Mike: That makes a lot of sense. Alright, well, thank you. And who do I have… Kathi?

Kathi: Hi.

Mike: Hello.

Kathi: We are 90 miles North of Pittsburgh. So we’re sort of clued in on what’s going on, most of this whole Western side of the state. My career right now is doing alterations at home and that’s working out really well. We have two daughters; one, the oldest, is a teacher and the youngest is a nurse in a large hospital in Pittsburgh. And as far as rating, I would say I’m going to do a one.

Mike: A one?

Kathi: Yep.

Mike: All right. And, so, thank you for that. Melissa? Right there.

Melissa: Here I am. Okay. Well, right now I live in, we call it South central, Pennsylvania outside Harrisburg. I grew up in Norwalk, Connecticut. So I moved to conservative Pennsylvania from liberal Connecticut. It’s –

Mike: I know Norwalk. I grew up in Connecticut kind of near Danbury.

Melissa: Oh, okay. Yeah. So yeah, you know the differences then?

Mike: Yup.

Melissa: I was an administrative assistant or a secretary for my whole career. I’m now retired. I live in a multigenerational home right now with my daughter, granddaughter, and my son-in-law. I have a cat, and they have two dogs, which means I have two dogs.

Mike: Yup.

Melissa: And I don’t know, I’m – I hover between a two and a three as far as the state of the country.

Mike: So I’ll put you down for 2.5. How about that?

Melissa: There you go.

Mike: All right. Thank you. And we have Nina, correct?

Nina: Yes.

Mike: Hello.

Nina: I actually grew up in just outside of Philadelphia and left when I was 18. Moved to New Hampshire, which is a very political state and the first in the nation primary, so this is different going, ‘cause I could rub elbows with all the candidates for every year – and moved back here. I live in Flourtown and I’ve so about – we’re literally about five miles from the city limits. And I moved here about a year and a half ago with my husband to take care of my 94-year-old mother. And we will be here as long as she is, and then we’ll move back to New Hampshire. I – I have been a teacher and also, I’m a counselor and a life coach. And I spent many, many years as a doula, which is someone who helps women give birth. And, so I’ve attended about 700 births so far.

Mike: Wow.

Nina: Yeah. I have two dogs and we have bees, so that’s – that’s who I am.

Mike: Yup.

Nina: For a number…

Mike: And so in terms of the number scale—

Nina: I’d give it a one.

Mike: A one right now?

Nina: Mm-hm.

Mike: And, Shayna. Did I get that right?

Shayna: Yes.

Mike: There you are. Perfect.

Shayna: Had to unmute myself. So, question was, where am I from? I’m born and raised in Philly. Presently living in Delaware County where I’ve been for the last five years. Professionally, I am a self-employed financial planner. And I think the last thing was the ranking of the country?

Mike: So, zero to 10, just state of America right now.

Shayna: I’ll go with a four.

Mike: Four? All right. Thank you. And do I have – let’s see, did Siobhan pop up? Not yet. So she might join us later. So, I got everybody correct? Every —

Ann: Mary.


Ann: What about Mary?

Nina: There’s somebody – yeah, someone named Mary.

Mike: That’s actually one of my coworkers, even though we did originally have a guest named Mary, so I got a little confused on that too. Basically, the Marist Polls you’re seeing are Jay, who’s going to be around for tech support, as well as Mary, and the other Marist Poll is my boss. So basically they’re just behind the scenes watching. They’re going to be doing a lot of the analysis. You don’t have to worry about them. But I have to worry about them basically, because they’re going to make sure I’m doing a good job. If you happen to see me check a message, it means “Mike, you’re taking too much time” or “Mike, you need to move on to something,” but, so they won’t be joining us in the conversation.

But again, thank you everyone for the intro. I do want to basically start. So I’m going to go with the polls. I’m going to start with this big zero that I have right down on my paper. So, Jacintha, basically talk me through a little bit of the process. What are the issues you’re weighing in your head, what’s weighing on your shoulders that led you to say a zero for the state of the country right now?

Jacintha: I didn’t vote for Donald Trump. I – I’m a Democrat. But, I don’t put him in any political party. I know he ran as a Republican, but I don’t – I don’t really think he represents a Republican – a Republican party. I think we’re moving towards a great sense of an authoritarian. You have – we have a polarization – we had that, which created his election. So that’s a great concern. I think you all relay that now with the coronavirus. A real life-threatening event. I think you have his mismanagement. I think you have his stirring violence in the streets. So I – I think this is a very tumultuous time. I think this is the most crucial election, certainly of my lifetime.

And I’m retired. So you can – you can estimate my age and estimate that we lived through the sixties. We lived through the riots. We’ve seen cities burn before. From Philadelphia, you know, from California to New Jersey we’ve seen protests. So there’s this – this is… The idea of a tumultuous time and change is not the issue; we’ve seen that.

I think it’s – it’s – it’s currently a very – a tipping point time. I think the factors are – are just very, very crucial and the current leadership, or lack thereof, which I would prefer to say is really putting us in an – in a situation. Do I want to live in America? Or do I want to live in Trumpland here? And I want to live in America.

Mike: I heard you say, you think this is one of the most critical elections of your lifetime. I’ll just show… Does everyone agree with that? Show of hands. Do you agree with that? Do you think this is the most important one that you’ve lived through? All right. Good show of hands.

Jay DeDapper: Mike, I just want to – Mike, sorry to interrupt.

I just want to note that we got Siobhan in so welcome her. Sorry about the delay. We had some technical issues, but Siobhan is down in one of your corners of your box of your screens there.

Mike: Hi, Siobhan, thank you so much for joining us.

Siobhan: Hi.

Mike: You didn’t miss too much. We basically are just jumping in. So I’ll take one step back and just real quick, so we know your name, Siobhan just… Where do you live? And then gut reaction. If you had to rate the state of America right now on a zero to 10 scale, with zero being everything’s terrible, 10 means everything’s great right now, what would you say?

Siobhan: I live in [inaudible], Pennsylvania, and I would rate it about a five.

Mike: About a five? All right. So, Ann, I’m looking – I’d like to get your input. So I think I was actually going for the polls and you said seven out of 10, so I was coming for you next anyway. So what are the types of issues that basically led you to believe, seven out of 10 right now for America?

Ann: Well, I did vote for Trump. And part of what made me decide ultimately to vote for him against Hillary was I knew a story, this limo broke down on the New Jersey turnpike and a working man pulled his car over, got out of his truck, and went and fixed the limo for him so that he can continue on his way down to Atlantic City. He didn’t know who was in the back of the limo. He just stopped because he had skills. The next day, his bank notified him that his mortgage was paid. Trump paid his mortgage. I found the man to be honest in his dealings in New Jersey. I followed the daily briefings every day. I watched how him and the experts and the doctors in the public health arena were trying to figure out how to react to the coronavirus. I don’t think anyone who was in office would have come up with the solution of using corporate America to solve a public health problem. It’s really never been done before. And I was extremely impressed that he arranged for ventilators to be built in car factories and masks to be produced here in America and the corporate solutions that he came up with because he’s a businessman, I don’t think anyone who was a lifelong politician would have thought of. In the 1960s, the riots – they were scarier than the riots today. They were scarier because Malcolm X and the Black Panthers… They were terrifying.

We, my family, almost moved to Canada because of those riots. When Newark burned and Camden burned, that… We were terrified. I remember as a child, being absolutely terrified and my parents being terrified.

Mike: Yup.

Ann:The leaders, the narcissistic leaders is a complaint I hear about Trump a lot, but if you look back in history, all of the truly great leaders were narcissists. It’s part of the personality of a great leader. Napoleon— narcissist. Hitler—not a good man, but a narcissist… George Washington—terrible narcissist. It’s part of being a leader.

Mike: Yup. So,


Mike:Yup. So, a lot to pick apart there and we’re going to get to a bunch of different topics. You mentioned first, how he handled the coronavirus. You said you think he did a good job, basically bringing in some corporations – to handle it as a businessman.

Other thoughts on – so basically, do you guys agree? Do you disagree? So, Bella, I saw you shaking your head a lot before. So, what do you think? So, focus more on his handling of the pandemic right now. What’s your impression?

Bella: Oh boy. [laughter] ah… [groan] As a young person, living in these times is… particularly terrifying because I know that a lot of what is happening and especially a lot of – well, politically – a lot of what is happening… will affect my future a lot. Like, we are at a very pivotal time in this nation’s history… Just thinking about where we are with the pandemic…[sigh]

There’s so much to unpack here. Well, first off, the fact that people are… blatantly disregarding science and facts is extremely disconcerting. You know, you can’t… You can obviously – you can like fudge numbers, but if you have a bunch of reputable scientists, all getting together and saying, “Hey, here’s the deal. Here’s what you need to do.” And people just started doing it because they’re like, “Oh, well it’s my personal right.” And I’m referring to masks specifically. People are not – [laughter] it’s just – it’s so – I’m sorry, but it’s so dumb. Like you – you just – you – you see the science behind how masks help prevent the spread of coronavirus, not because of, “Oh, I don’t want to inhale it.” Yeah. That’s part of it, but mostly it’s because my mask protects you. Your mask protects me. That’s how it works. And as long as you have a solid face covering… on, you’re going to protect other people from getting the virus, in case you have it. And that same exact thing goes for social distancing.

Now I might sound a little bit, at least from my age group of college students, you know – you see, so many images of like kids doing stupid things like having COVID-19 parties… And like placing bets… I don’t know if y’all heard about this, but people were literally placing bets… On – “Oh, hey, here’s one person who has COVID-19, let’s invite them to the party, and we’ll place bets on who’s going to get it first.”

Literally, when I heard about that, I… Oh – [laughter]

Mike: So, thinking back to – I think you might remember this from the actual survey we asked – we asked – so who here by show of hands, who here thinks the coronavirus is the threat that basically is talked about in the media, is that, or… Who thinks that it’s a little overblown by the media? So if you think it’s a real threat and it’s not overblown at all by the media, please raise your hand.

Siobhan: Time out for a second.

Mike: Yup.

Siobhan:I think it is a threat… But I also think it is overblown by the media, ‘cause the media just does that with everything.

Mike: So, what are your thoughts on how Trump handles – Is handling the pandemic overall?

Siobhan: A little background. I have family in Europe also, so I’ve been following it a little before… the United States was getting warned. I’d been in hazmat situations before [this]. I worked in the hospital. I worked on [ambulances], fire trucks. So yes… I think you should wear masks and everything. And Trump shut it down the best they could. And the big picture here is… Take Ireland. It’s smaller than Pennsylvania… Italy, smaller than Pennsylvania. So you can’t judge those countries… Shutting down quicker… And blaming everything else on Trump. You can’t shut down a country this size… The way Italy and Ireland and Germany did.

It’s just… geographically impossible. I do think… A lot that I – I agree with Trump with a lot of things, and I disagree with Trump for a lot of things, but,… according to corona and asking the people to wear masks, stay inside…

Being an ER nurse and in hazmat situations, worry about you and your family. Don’t get stressed out because they’re not wearing masks. If you’re their supervisor, you’re going to be in contact with them… Then yes, say it. But if you’re walking down the street and Joe Schmo’s across the street… It – it’s not going to happen everywhere.

It… Too many hazmat situations got blown out of proportion because you weren’t worrying about yourself.

Mike: Yup.

Siobhan:Like when I would go into a patient with isolation, if I was plugged up down in masks, I didn’t have to worry about if a patient spit at me, bit me, you know… Sometimes when I bit— they bit me, but…

They were least likely to break through the skin. Like, I just, I don’t want people, like… getting out of proportion and why Trump is good in that aspect. He brought real, active,… like everyday people to speak to us about it. Like we’re going to interact and be at CVS. So he brought what CVS is going to do, what Walgreen is going to do and not, no offense,… what Bill Gates was going to do.

That’s not gonna help the everyday…person. So I do think from that standpoint, Trump did… a good job. He shut it down in pieces. He brought us back up, and he contacted like private companies to get the second stimulus check. And I do people— I do think people need that stuff, but instead of…robbing the country’s money, he did look at alternatives, which is smart. And he treated it like a one package situation. What is going to help people with just the effects of coronavirus and not putting other details what our country needs in through this package. And… The different points of getting the emergency workers,… the extra money, because some of them had to live in hotels and stay away from their families, so that’s double groceries. That’s like a double budget for that month.

Mike: Yeah.

Siobhan: And then there was the people that were completely out of work. He considered the everyday needs versus… the political… people’s needs. Does that make sense?

Mike: I think I understand.

Siobhan: He didn’t make it a political… decision. He made it like everyday person decision making.

Mike: I understand.

Siobhan: That’s what I liked about it. Nobody is going to be perfect…in doing it. Like, we’ve never dealt with this biological weapon in a political term, as much as the COVID-19.

Mike: Yup.

Siobhan: And he also, when he got wind of this, you know, this lab doing this, and Obama got wind of it when he was in office, and he actually— Obama’s opted direct funding to this lab when he found out about this, that was coming from the United States. Trump stopped… the funding. There was indirect funding that the international pharmaceutical funds, like, different countries put in money.

Mike: I understand.

Siobhan: Trump stopped the indirect funding to this. That was huge. You know?

Mike: So I’m going to bring in a couple other –

Siobhan: Sorry.

Mike:Opinions on this because— No, no problem. I think you – I think you’ve had a lot of good information there. I want to get other thoughts on this. Nina. Trump’s handling of coronavirus… What’s on your mind?

Nina: Okay. Just a few things that struck me from what people have said. I – I love that story about the limousine driver, but I also know that Trump has a long record of not paying his subcontractors, which is… everyday working people as well. And I also think that as a country, we pulled together in times of crisis, including wars when many different businesses were turned into manufacturing products for – for defense. So I think there’s plenty of other times in our country where we have come together… I think he lied to us about, or he certainly withheld facts that he knew. And glossed it over and said it was like a flu, and things like that that we know are not true. He… gave $1,200 to working people.

Ann: [If] he came out and said, “Oh my God, 2 million people are going to die. This is terrible. And we don’t know how to stop it.” Don’t you think he was going to set off a major panic?

Jacintha: Oh – oh.

(crosstalk) [laughter]

Nina: I mean, I don’t care. I want the truth. And, so—


Nina:Wait a minute. I have a few more things to say.

Mike: Yeah. So —

Nina: Let me — I’d like to let me finish —

Mike: Finish the thought, please.

Nina: You guys all had time.

Jacintha: [inaudible] talking, please.

Nina:I think the money for $1,200 per person was very nice, except that no one can live on that, and there’s plenty of people who have lost their jobs and cannot afford to live. And the money, much of the money for small business relief went to very large businesses that did not need it. And so, I think we’ve got a political system now that is… One – one party—

Siobhan: But time out. That was given to the states – for the states to —

Nina: You know what? Stop interrupting. I didn’t interrupt you.

Mike: You know what? I’m just gonna—I’m sorry—

Siobhan: It wasn’t Trump.

Mike: No, so I do want to foster good conversation, but I just want to let her finish her thought.

Siobhan: Sorry.

Mike: No, no problem.

Nina:Thank you. I think we have a system where… One party is trying to stop the other in – in every track, every – every bill they propose, and so we’re not getting anything done. No one’s working together. The issues that confront people of color in our country are so big, so old, so huge. They don’t affect me… because I’m not a person of color. I’ve never had to worry about that. But there’s — this is time for us to wake up. Maybe this virus was a wake-up call to this country that we need to change things, and we need to change the way we do a lot of things.

So I think Trump has handled the virus very badly. I think he said terrible things about Democratic governors, because he doesn’t like them. And I think this is playing politics. He plays politics every chance he can get. There’s — Every tweet is – is a – is a dig. Every tweet is a terrible thing about somebody— stop it. Nobody needs that. When the divide – the Republicans never— I’m 68. I’ve been around a long time. When the Democrats and the Republicans were parties when I was younger, we were not so divisive. We can be friends. We could – we could be – we could have conversations. We can’t now. My husband’s an avid Trump supporter. I’m an avid Trump hater. So we don’t get along with this. But this is… this is the way our country is. This is terrible. It’s awful. I think his – his response has been terrible, but mostly I think he’s not a man of character. So that’s my opinion about him. You guys can say what you want, but —

Mike: No we —

Nina: If this is the best we can do as a country to put our best person in the head of our country, then we’ve got a lot of changing to do.

Mike: So, on that note, does anyone here – so raise your hand if you think Biden would have done a better job handling or will — potentially will do a better job handling the coronavirus pandemic. Alright. So, Kathi, what makes you feel like Biden would do a better job? Or… And if you’d like to elaborate on anything we just talked about too, please feel free, but what makes you think Biden—what has [made] you put your trust in him more?

Kathi: Oh, the reason that I… will be voting for Biden is the fact that he – he’s going to try…what’s been undone, and that’s to unite these States again. We had – the states themselves have been divided by this man. He’s… You can see in the daily news what he does to… mayors and… governors of Democratic states. It just is unfair. It would be the same thing as in a school that one classroom gets textbooks that are a hundred years old and the other ones get are – always get the new books… As far as the PPE… Jared Kushner to stand up and represent this country and saying that… the… ventilators that they had in Washington or in store rooms or… whatever, that they belonged to them? Who is them? Them is – is us; we are this country. That doesn’t belong to any of these people with their hands in the till. They’re – they’re just is not. And I —I tell you, I am 64 years old and of January 21st of 2017, I changed my party affiliation. I – there was no way I could walk in this country with a – with my head up and say that I was a Republican… ever again. Ever again. This man is a racist, and I do believe that, this Miller in — that’s – behind Trump, he’s dangerous. He is very, very dangerous to this country.

It just is something, and as far as the riots… They haven’t been in – truthfully have not been strong in Pittsburgh. We had them; things settled down. I know people over the country that in some of these other cities. They’ve like picked their kids up through the summer and left, because they were afraid. I definitely would be afraid— didn’t happen in your city if you’re not afraid. For Trump to say that he knows more than these scientists? You would never hear that from Joe Biden. He would sit, and listen, and pull in that, all — all — everything that he could base his… replies on – he – he would never say that he knew more than these scientists. Just – he just wouldn’t.

Mike: Yep. So—

Kathi: And, truthfully, and this is the way we’ve raised our girls. You are judged by the – by your friends, by the – by the people that you are around… Where… and how did all of these bad actors… that have gone to jail, that he’s let out, that are – that are gonna go to jail? We don’t, I personally, my husband —

Siobhan: Trump didn’t let them out of jail.

Ann:I’m sorry?

Siobhan:The corrupt DAs let them out of jail.

Mike: So… I just wanna bring in a couple other opinions. I – believe me – we are going to – all of these are good issues I want to dive deeper into, but, Shayna, was I correct in seeing you also raise your hand? Do you think Biden would have done a better job handling corona?

Shayna: Yes.

Mike: So, basically just expand on that for me. What are your thoughts?

Shayna: Well, I think Trump’s style of leadership is a lot more kind of fly by night. Fly by the seat of his pants. See – see what happens. See what public opinion is and, you know, kind of sway…to or fro, depending on, you know, what people are saying or what he thinks is gonna get him the most applause, but, I think having an actual plan like him undoing the pandemic response team, to me, was just – just something that we could have had something in place already. And there was… something in place already, because the – the information was out there. There were, you know, conferences and a lot of information about how pandemics were going to be the next big threat. And this was back in, you know, 2017, 2016, 2018, 2014 even. Which is why the pandemic response team was created… to address these issues.

But, Trump dismantling that and not having any kind of a substitute, I think is… part and parcel to his leadership style. So, for me, I prefer a leader that is more proactive and not reactive. Someone who can actually listen to and present a unified front. Not just people praising him, ‘cause that’s not a unified front, in my opinion. That’s just people praising him. And who’s not going to just stand there and talk bad about, you know. If we’re dealing with a national crisis, I expect a national — national rhetoric from the leaders. Not, you know, Democratic cities and governors do this, and Republican governors do that.

You’re injecting politics into a human situation. And that to me is, not leadership. So I think you have to, you know, you have to be big enough to, and humble enough… to say, regardless of what your party is, we all have something that we need to do. We all have a responsibility to each other. We all have to make sure that we are protecting each other. That we are getting through this as fast as we can.

And with some type of a national game plan, we could have had that. I don’t see Trump being able to deliver that, at all, because he’s – he’s too divisive; instinctively, he’s too divisive. And we were already been able to see what he can do and it’s not good. We’re still in it. There’s literally 200,000 people dead.

And it didn’t have to be this way, whether we’re… I think 320 million people is a lot to manage. So you’re never going to get a hundred percent participation in anything, but to have consistency and to have a stabilizing figure, instead of somebody, you know, talking about, you know, Democrat, this, Republican, this. You need somebody who can speak to us as a collective and bring us together. And I don’t see Trump doing that, and I hear that much more from Biden and even how Biden handled, or not him directly, but being in the presence of how Ebola was handled. And we didn’t have this with Ebola or, and it’s not on the scale ‘cause coronavirus is certainly not Ebola or the H1N1 swine flu, but they did deal with two other potentially deadly diseases and had responses that didn’t look like this.

Mike: Yup.

Shayna:So that to me, I don’t see… we get to see how Trump would handle it, ‘cause he’s doing it right now, and I don’t necessarily want that moving forward.

Mike: So I appreciate that. I want to do a quick little exercise. We talked a lot about the Coronavirus. We hit on a whole bunch of different topics, which I promise you we will dig deeper into, but does everyone have the post-it note and a pen handy? I just want to have a record. So basically, just real quick – top of mind – just a word or phrase, what’s the one issue that keeps you up at night?

What’s the one issue you’re most stressed out about right now? So just jot it down real quick. And I just want to do a quick around the room of just, if you had to nail down between everything going on, what’s the one issue you’re most stressed out about… And so, Ann, I see insurance… Bella, I see hatred…

Siobhan: [I need] a darker pen.

Mike: Kathi, that was “uniting the country”?

Kathi: Right.

Mike: Did I get that right? Right. Jacintha? “Trump’s reelection.”

Jacintha: Yep.

Mike: All right. Shayna, income inequality…. And Nina, the environment. I think I got – let me just do a quick look. I think I got everyone. All right, so… Something I was going to bring up Shayna, you just said, so income inequality…

I want to talk a little bit now a little more focused on… the economy. So, right now, pretty much, if you could raise your hand, who thinks the economy has gotten better under Trump?

Ann and Siobhan. So, Ann. What do you think is Trump’s impact on the economy has been? What – what led you to say that you think that it’s gotten better under him?

Ann: [It’d] been good for me. I was very fortunate. I cashed out all my 401ks right before the plummet. In fact, one month before the plummet, and moved from Jersey. Sold everything I had in Jersey and moved to Pittsburgh, so,… ever since I moved here in 2018, I babysit my granddaughter every Wednesday, and… I don’t have to… work 40 hours a week anymore. I only have to work two hours a week now, in order to pay all my bills.

Mike: Yeah.

Ann:It’s way cheaper to live in Pittsburgh than Jersey.

Mike: And so do you credit President Trump for that? Or… Do you think he’s directly or…?

Ann: Oh yeah, I’ve listened to his speech he was doing, and I said, “It’s time for the money to come out of the 401k.” And I took it out and then everybody who didn’t take their money out, lost half of it… in the stock market plunge. I was very fortunate. I got every dime, every single dime.

Mike: So, Melissa… I’d like to hear your thoughts. So what do you think Trump’s impact on the economy has been?

Melissa: Oh, first my thought is, you know, if it was under Trump that the 401k plunged, then I don’t think that’s great for the economy, right?


Melissa:And I have to admit, you know, I mean, for me, I’m in a decent position. The economy doesn’t affect me as much. I’m retired. I… Luckily, one of the few people left in this world who has pensions coming in besides my social security. So… On an individual basis, I’m okay, but… I just, my – my daughter teaches in an… Urban school district. And so she sees… how bad it is… for all of these people in the lower income who just now don’t have jobs because of – of this virus and – and the shutting down of the economy. And I just don’t, to me “make America great again, again” it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Mike: Jacintha, what are you thinking?

Jacintha: Well, I also saved my retirement right before the the last great recession. I actually – so that was good for me. And I also benefit from – from – I, you know, I – and I agree with Melissa. Right now, my own personal situation is okay… you know, as far as that, but, you know, the economy… plummeted… to its worst place. We were in a recession and Obama and Biden came in at the bottom. At the absolute bottom.

Now I think we can all critique, along the way, that there were things we wish… maybe they did differently, but they did build an economy back. They built back jobs. So they hand – they hand it to Trump, an economy on – on a silver plate. It was, you know, it – it was – it was solid… after that recession. Now we know that he basically passed the tax cut for the rich. You can look at that. I mean, you can watch that. I mean, they – they – the money given to corporations by and large went to stock buyouts, as it was predicted. If you go back and look at the newspapers in those early days of the Trump administration, for every company that published that they – that they created X amount of jobs, two weeks later, there was a – there was a layoff or a bonus given here and a layoff there. So he – he added a kind of quick fix to the economy… that was already strong. But I – I tend to – I think – tend to think and look around here in Northeastern, Pennsylvania that you are still looking at inherent weaknesses.

You know, he promised to bring back coal in Pennsylvania. Honestly the – the robber barons took it all. There was no way you’re going to bring back coal or coal production to Pennsylvania. So I – I– I think, he was lucky enough to be given… a – a gift in the economy. He, you know, created kind of another false bubble.

And I think his inability to understand that controlling the coronavirus, and being smart about it, would help the economy. I don’t think you can separate what he did if you don’t understand – you don’t understand what you’re dealing with… And that there were – there were ways to – to better handle the situation than – than he did.

It didn’t have to be necessarily any [inaudible]. We knew we were going to take – suffer. We knew this was going to be a hardship. But I think, as Nina pointed out, America is great about it. That’s what’s great about America or the ability to pull together, to have a common cause to do it in a common way.

So I think there were, I think, what – what the economy’s in a – in a very rough state now, and we are probably headed for some – some – a permanent recession or a long-term recession because jobs do not going to come back. Industry’s not going to come back. My husband worked for – worked for 28 years for Sears Roebuck. He left before it fell. The store he worked in… was demolished. There’s no sign of it. It’s so – so the whole retail industry – to talk about Sears Roebuck today, or are you going to talk about Neiman Marcus or…? They’re not going to come back. So what’s needed is – is you need a better management, better understanding to the current, and you need a vision… for what’s going to take us out into the next economy for my children, for my grandchildren, for all of us here who do have children. And I don’t hear any of that. I don’t – I don’t see any of that.

And – and I’ll make one last point. I don’t think the stock market and main street are –are two measures. We know what, you know, I – you hear it all the time. What’s good for the stock market is not good for main street. So when you – when you say everything’s good about the stock market and that’s where the economy is. I really don’t think you understand what the whole scope of the economy is, and what it means to everyone in the inner cities, in the farms, you know, far away from me that I don’t even understand.

Mike: Yeah.

Jacintha: You know – you know, God bless those people working in the chicken farms in Delaware. That is a God-awful job, and the meat-packing plants. But that’s – that’s where the real economy is, and that’s what we have to be looking for.

Mike: So yeah. Feel free to jump in. Any other thoughts on Trump’s impact on the economy?

Siobhan: I have to say that… I think Trump did a good job. My IRA’s… Backstory: my dad died when I was young, so I had to do my own research on… retirement funds and how it was going to affect me, how the money he left me for school… was going to help me survive as a young child without… the income of her parent.

So I started IRAs. They tripled since 9-11. My husband is 20 years older than me. He’s retiring in five years, and I can retire with him because I did my research. After I left the hospital, I rolled the 403B and the 401k into other accounts. I – I was able to… take the money that I didn’t use from school, because… I was lucky – the hospital paid for some of it, to roll into accounts for my kid’s college fund. I was able to roll the accounts into a joint account because my husband is the one with the consistent paycheck to keep up those accounts. To get life insurance, like the good life insurance, they want to see money [inaudible]. They want to see the money markets attached to the IRAs and so forth. So you have to link them. You can’t just expect… for somebody to come in here and take over the economy when there was things set up that weren’t in their favor. Number one, Clinton started the balloon mortgages that started the recession and the real estate crash.

And if you read the balloon mortgage line, it’s the same thing in Obamacare. People cannot afford health insurance that’s more than their mortgage. It was a good thought, but it wasn’t well thought-out. And… You have to look at the states that favor your retirement account. You know, my husband has a government pension, so the Southern states favor them. They don’t tax them.

You have to plan, or go to a financial advisor and say, “Here is what I have; where can I live?” like Ann. She figured out where she can live with her accounts. And there are financial advisors that do pro bono work, that do free consults, or do your own research like I did. I’ll be 45 and I’ll be able to retire with my husband and still raise my kids, who will be in middle school at the time…

Ann: [inaudible]

Siobhan:And be mortgage-free. I’ve been mortgage-free since I was 30 years old.

So, I’m not saying everybody’s going to be as blessed as I was, but I’m saying there’s a way around it, not to blame that. And the fact that my IRAs and the stocks have tripled since 9-11, then obviously I did my research… correctly.

Ann: What are you going to do about insurance, Siobhan? Cause if you’re [retire] at 45, [inaudible]

Siobhan: My… kids and I will be covered, and we’ll pay for the Florida Blue 65 plan, like Pennsylvania has the Personal Choice 65, and he’ll have Medicare. So then I’m covered ‘til I’m 65 and the kids are covered ‘til they’re 26.

Ann & Nina: [inaudible]

Siobhan:That was a good thing that was well thought-out in Obamacare; they’re covered until they’re 26, if they don’t. It was a good thought. Obama had good ideas, but this one was not well thought-out. Now, when I look at Biden and Trump, you gotta put what’s going to work for you and find the lesser of two evils. ‘Cause everybody agree, nobody’s perfect.

Mike: Yup. So.

Siobhan: There’s always one… [inaudible]

Shayna: So I want to jump in —

Mike: Please.

Shayna: [inaudible] because, since I am a financial advisor… By profession. And you know, personally, I – I’m doing well. But I also recognize that how I’m doing, and the type of work that I do, is not a reflection on the country as a whole. So for me, I worked with the stock market every day. My job is to make people money. I know that stocks can make money, while regular people go broke.

Because you can easily, as a corporation, manipulate numbers to make your stock prices look better. You lay off people, it’ll make your stock prices look better. You can do stock buybacks, it makes your stock prices look better. There are a lot of ways, that don’t affect the everyday person, that the stock market can manipulate itself to do well.

So… Most people know that the stock market is not the economy. And this is the first time, at least in my 20 years of doing this, that I’ve ever had a – a president try to make the stock market sound like it’s the actual economy – when it works in his favor. But… Looking at the – the overall economy, – the… Income gap is widening, which is also affecting some of these other things. So you can’t get democratic participation out of your citizenry if you have people who can’t afford to feed their families, because 42% of the jobs that were lost in COVID aren’t coming back. So, there’s going to be… Some kind of fallout from this. And I’ve heard nothing about that in terms of jobs, or development of jobs, or reorienting the economy… There’s… automation has taken over some of these jobs because of the pandemic, are not coming back, because they’re going to figure out how to get robots to do the job. Because robots don’t get sick. So, there’s a lot of things that have already been in the works —

Siobhan: They’ve been doing robots for years. Even when I was in the hospital, they were using the robot for the stroke team.

Shayna: It’s gonna, it’s just going to keep getting bigger and bigger —

Siobhan: You can’t blame COVID on that.

Shayna: Because 30 percent of some of those other jobs are still going to – to lose. Their technology will always do things faster and better than humans. Not necessarily – that doesn’t necessarily help us, but there’s no plan right now… to address that issue. There’s just constant focus on, you know, the top income-earners in the country. And the – and only 80% of – of the stock market participation is only done by 20% of Americans. So… To say that the stock market is the economy is really—


Siobhan: I didn’t – I didn’t say the stock market was the economy. I was just saying—

Mike: So—

Shayna: I didn’t say that you said it—

Siobhan: My financial situation, I have to make work for me, just like Ann did for her.

Shayna: Yeah, Siobhan, I’m not saying that you did. I’m saying people—

Siobhan: Oh, okay, I thought – I was talking about it a whole, like —

Shayna: This is not addressed to you directly. This is —

Siobhan: Oh okay. I was like, “No, it’s a whole package.”

Mike: Yup… So…

Shayna: No, this is the whole – the whole – the point is you can’t look at one segment of the economy, which is the stock market and broad – broadly paint a stroke that the economy is doing –

Siobhan: Oh, like he is saying.

Shayna: Well, ‘cause it’s not. Because the gap is widening and that affects every other aspect of democracy. So, unless you address that there – we’re actually going to get worse. Oh, we’re going to get more polarized because everybody’s going to look to blame somebody else for why they can’t have a job or why they can’t do this. They’re every other problem is going to get magnified —

Siobhan: But that’s with every recession they’re going to blame somebody else.

Shayna: I’m not even talking about the recession. I’m talking about the general economy.

Mike: So by show of hands. Who would trust the economy in Biden’s hands over Trump. So just raise your hand. If you would rather have Biden at the helm of the economy. Alright, Bella, I’m going to use your new background as a segue. So honestly, thank you. So, I want to talk a little bit about the racial tensions that are prevalent in our country right now. So how do you think – what do you think has been Trump’s role in that? Do you think there’s any? Basically just, what do you think has been his impact on race relations in our country?

Bella: Oh boy.

Mike: I know we just switched gears, but, this is a really important issue right now. So, I would really – Everyone else, I’m going to start with Bella, please. You hear something, Feel free to jump in. I want to hear everyone’s thoughts on this.

Bella: Nope. I am just going to say, read the sign. Black lives matter. Doesn’t matter if you are a person of color or not. Black lives do matter. All lives cannot matter until black lives matter.

Jacintha: Lives matter. Yes

Mike: And so how do you feel – so what has been Trump’s impact? Has there been an impact? I don’t want to put words in your mouth.

Bella: I’m really, really trying to say this in as calm a fashion as possible.


Bella:He… when someone at a rally of their own points in the crowd and says, “Look at my African American over there.”


Bella:‘Nough said. I don’t think he’s helped. I don’t think he’s helped at all. He is someone who fuels the fire a lot. And he’s just very, very clearly a racist. He sees himself as someone. He definitely has a superiority complex. He’s – and that comes with the narcissism as well. He makes fun of people for things that are out of their control. Like he points things out of – about people for things that are out of their control. And this isn’t a BLM situation. But just thinking about another time when – at another rally, when he made fun of a reporter with a disability. Now whenever somebody makes fun of somebody for something that’s out of their control, in my opinion, that is absolutely unacceptable. And that also comes into play with race.

So, with the whole thing that’s happening in this country, I think that everything that’s happening right now is so far overdue. So far overdue. Just the fact that, I have been sitting in my unknown privilege of being so oblivious to everything that people of color have been experiencing in this country. And then all of this happens and I’m thinking, “Wow, I was so ignorant.” And I was so ignorant that I didn’t mean to be, but I just didn’t know. And the fact that it’s – it – didn’t – it never – from things that I’ve read… And I do — do my research. I’d make sure that I read stuff from all across the political spectrum, so that way I can get as well informed an opinion as possible, from what I’ve read, it never got better. People have been experiencing things throughout history and he’s just not helping at all, you know? Okay.


Bella:I’ve had conversations with other Trump supporters – or not other Trump supporters because I very much do not support Trump – but I’ve had conversations with Trump supporters, and they’re saying ‘I don’t like the person that he is, but I – I liked some of his policies.’ That’s great. But as a leader, you have to lead by example. Whether you like it or not, you have to lead by example. And he’s not doing that well at all, to reflect the America that we should have, where people are equal. Black lives cannot matter until all lives matter.

Mike: Thank you. Nina?

Nina: I think what he’s done is made it okay to be – to hate. [inaudible]


Jacintha: To hate. Okay to hate.

Nina:It’s made it acceptable for people to be just awful to each other and especially racially. And I think it’s just – he’s given people carte blanche to say whatever they want about whoever they want. And it’s terrible. He’s- he’s dividing this country. He is fanning the flames of this, of the racism and the divide in the country. Absolutely. He loves it.

Jacintha: Yeah. I can only – I can only echo what Nina said. The first words out of his mouth when he came down the escalator were words of hate. Hate and – and all the – all the things that were unacceptable to say before – the things that people would never say before.

I have said to my husband many times at the very beginning, these are the voices in people’s heads that they hear and that their better nature, as Jon Meacham likes to point out often, I think it was from Lincoln – the better – our better angels – and – and – and maybe our religious practices love thy neighbor as ourselves have tempered those.

He has allowed it to come out like a flame thrower. I don’t think the man has a soul to be perfectly honest. I don’t think it’s about ra – I don’t think he has a soul. And I – I think – I think he – I think he acts as a racist and I think he incites and believes other people are racist so that he can draw that out of them.

I think that people either matter to him or they – they don’t – they serve a purpose for him or they don’t like objects. And I don’t think he thinks people of color – we’ve heard how he refers to their countries or where they come from the way he referred to Baltimore. So that for him to use that language is they are not important. They do not serve a purpose for him. So, therefore –


Nina:The irony is –

Jacintha:Therefore he dismisses them.

Nina: The irony is some of the people who are the everyday people would never be allowed in his house, in his clubs, in his life. He likes them, because, [inaudible] for them, they are – they’re just blindly following him, but he would not have them in his life.

Siobhan: I just want to add something to that. There is definitely a racism problem in this country. I just have a severe problem with labels and how the media puts it. [inaudible] Biden. We can’t diagnose him, but he’s getting his words mixed up the whole nine yards. You have to look at the past and [inaudible] how people build up to being the person they are. Trump was never considered a racist until he ran for president. He also —



Shayna:No, he was definitely [inaudible] I’m just telling you.

Participant:Yes, he was.


Jacintha:[inaudible] servers from the floor of his casino. They were not allowed to be on the floor.

Siobhan:[inaudible] Let me finish. [inaudible] then Biden said the eulogy at [inaudible ], the head of the KKK.

Melissa: In the 1970s, when he wouldn’t let black people rent in his apartments.

Jacintha:[inaudible] apartments.

Siobhan: But – [inaudible] No. He is still inappropriate as well. Biden is a [inaudible], as well.


Siobhan:He needs to stay off social media. I totally agree with that, but I mean, look at LBJ, he took a dump in the oval office with the door open [inaudible]. We’re not gonna like everybody’s character, but Trump has shown that [inaudible] peaceful [inaudible] with Israel —

Jacintha: LBJ overcame a background of being a southerner living within a racist environment to pass the civil rights act. The most historic changes in this country.


Jacintha:So yes, I disagree, that wasn’t a good thing to do. And – and that – that was his nature. And that – that was a mistake of a character —

Siobhan: But he still hasn’t changed. His character still has not changed.

Shayna: But neither has Trump.

Jacintha:I agree. Trump’s character has not changed. I don’t believe he has a character or a soul.

Siobhan:Trump is socially inappropriate. I don’t think he’s racist.


Shayna: As the lone person of color on this panel. I feel like I probably should speak on this matter –

Jacintha:Thank you. Thank you.

Shayna:And I’m going to tell you that Black people feel that Trump was racist before you and —

Siobhan: I have Black friends and I have Jewish friends that don’t think he’s racist. They say that was blown out of proportion.

Shayna: I’m telling you that he – when he took out the full-page ad on the central park five and never apologized for it. And still to this day – even when they’re exonerated – still won’t apologize for it because he called for their death when he wouldn’t [inaudible] people of color —


Siobhan: [inaudible] If his intentions were not to be racist then he’s not going to apologize for it. Biden’s been sexually inappropriate and has not apologized [inaudible]



Shayna: Well, you can’t talk about sexual inappropriateness, and then try to defend Donald Trump. He’s got more lawsuits for sexual impropriety than anybody I’ve ever seen in office, but that ‘cause –

Siobhan: Oh, Bill Clinton —

Shayna:That’s actual – the court documents.

Siobhan: Bill Clinton had plenty —

Shayna:[inaudible] for Biden on that particular issue now, not to the level of Trump, for sure. But, as a – as a – as a black person, there’s no way. But that in my 41 years of life, I’ve ever – I’ve experienced racism as well. So, it’s not a – it’s not a new problem. It didn’t start with Trump. So, I don’t blame Trump for racism. I think he –

Siobhan: That’s what I com – I think he’s socially inappropriate about a lot of things.

Shayna: No, I don’t think he’s socially inappropriate. I think he’s a racist. –

Siobhan:I don’t [inaudible] racist. [inaudible] blown out.

Shayna:I think it’s important that we say because he’s in charge of the systems. He could actually do something about it. Racism has to do with institutions and systems, not how we treat each other individually. We can like each other individually and still have a racist system in place and that is the issue that is being addressed. I know people personally who get along with me, but who are racist. There, my husband grew up in Southern Delaware. Where he knew the KKK families. In his town and they got along with them, that doesn’t mean that they’re not racist. That means that we can have a civil conversation and you can like me as an individual, but you don’t want me to have power. You don’t want me to have access. And that is the part that has to be addressed. And he stokes those fears. —

Siobhan: But I also don’t like labels.

Shayna: He stokes that. And he automatically puts people – he, I mean, he has known white supremacists in his cabinet, in position power –


Shayna:To continue to perpetuate those things. And I’m – I’m actually, to an extent, grateful for him coming into this position because it exposes what has already – as people of color we’ve known and experienced all of this time. And now more people get to see it. And the more people see it, the more can get done.

Jacintha: Thank you. Thank you.


Siobhan: It can be done without labels. I mean, no offense, I’m sorry. Black lives matter has nothing to do with black humans. Now, there is good, honest citizens that do believe and do portray that black lives matter to that effect. Who respect black humans and give them the same level of consideration as others. But then there’s the other side of black matters that is going out and shooting police officers like the two in California and a good friend of mine got shot in the face. And it was, oh, because of black lives matter because he was wearing a uniform – a police uniform. So that’s why I don’t like labels. I’m sorry, because people have got ambushed on both sides because of it.


Mike: So, I appreciate –

Siobhan:And there’s a lot of people that say black lives matter comes from black panthers, we just need to say. We need to [inaudible] black humans. Period. We need to respect all –


Shayna: Well people don’t even – you have to understand who the black panthers were they were not a militant terrorist organization. They wanted to give free breakfast to kids. I’m just saying, that’s what they were doing.

Siobhan: Nah that’s Antifa that’s being [inaudible] terrorist organization. I’m just saying this label is – and it’s not fair.


Mike: Okay. So, and Ann, you did have your hand up earlier then. I just want to hear from Kathi quick. So, before we move on, ‘cause there are a couple of things I want to cover, but this is really important. So, I want to make sure everyone has a chance to voice their opinion. So, and what’s on your mind?

Ann: I was going to say that black lives do matter. And my great grandmother, you know, she was part of the Underground Railroad. When – when she died, we found the tunnels under the house and the journals. About the – the railroad. So, believe me, when I say all people matter to me, but black lives do matter. What I have trouble with is disrespecting the police, defunding the police and not honoring our military and our dead. I think it’s so disrespectful to not stand during the anthem and honor the soldiers that gave their lives for this country. It breaks my heart.

Kathi: When Trump says it though –

Ann: I’m sorry [that] I was polite and listened while y’all spoke, so y’all can give me a minute. You know, Biden wasn’t marching next to John Lewis in 1965. He was sitting in Delaware, doing his own thing. You know, when he’s had 40 years to – to stand up for black rights, it was LBJ who desegregated the schools and sent the American U.S. Troops in to defend so that a young girl could march into school, a white school. And so it’s – it’s not always been a Democratic platform to support the African American and other races. I really strongly feel that this is an issue that I’m glad it’s reached its time. I think the riots are bad. I think that disrespecting the police is bad, and I fear that we’re not going to have police if we don’t start supporting them and helping them learn how to be better police. So that they’re not unnecessarily harming people. But I think the most important thing that we all need to learn is how to be an anti-racist. And that means whenever a decision comes up, that requires a decision involving race that we actively choose to be against racism, whether it in speech, thought, action, that – that we make sure that we’re knocking down barriers. When I teach, I made sure that a hundred percent of my students are successful. I call them at home. I set up a learning plan so that they can be successful. I don’t want to leave one person behind. I want them all to get a hundred on the exam. I want them all to become successful in their career. I want them all to – to – to learn and – and be able to be met where they need to be met. I believe equity is not treating everyone the same. It’s treating each person as an individual with individual needs and meeting those needs and surpassing those needs so that – that you will help that person achieve excellence. It’s being an anti-racist and that’s what we need to get the message out. There’s a book on it. Don’t remember the author’s name. It was recently published. It’s on the New York bestseller list. If you’re interested, on how to be an anti-racist and how to make every life matter.

Mike: So, thank you a ton of good information there. I wish we had a four-hour group where we can really just kind of dive into this. So, I’m gonna switch gears just a little bit, and I’m going to try to focus on –it’s been in the background for the whole conversation, but the 2020 election. So, it is coming up quicker than we realize. I just want to go around the room I’ll call out names – if you could just tell me who you’re going to support at this point, and on a 0 to 10 scale, – How committed are you? So basically, zero means you’re totally on the fence. You have no idea right now. You’re kind of just leaning towards them. 10 you’re a hundred percent committed. There’s nothing that can happen between now and Election Day to change your mind. So, Kathi?

Kathi: Oh, I’m all in for a 10.

Mike: And Trump or Biden?

Kathi: Oh, for Biden.

Mike: Jacintha?

Jacintha: Oh Biden and it’s a 10. Can I put a hundred?

Mike: Nina?

Nina: Biden.

Mike: And 1 to 10? How committed?

Nina: 10.

Mike: Bella?

Bella: Biden. 10.

Mike: Melissa.

Melissa: Ooh, Biden, 10.

Mike: Siobhan?

Siobhan: Trump 10.

Mike: Ann?

Ann: Well, I’m looking at Pence and Kamala as being the ticket. I don’t like Trump, but I like Pence. I don’t like Biden, but I like Kamala. So, I guess I’m going to write in Booker Abrams.

Mike: Alright and Shayna?

Shayna: Biden 10.

Mike: So, a lot of tens it seems like this was pretty much already baked in. So, question and feel free to jump in. When did you decide this? When did you know that there was basically no turning around and it was going to be Biden? No matter what. So, I’ll start with, Kathi.

Kathi: I – I already had answered this question and it was January 21st, the day after inauguration. The man had promised things that my husband and I would sit and say, ‘he legally can’t do that. He – how would he ever think that who’s going to pay for this? How it was – There just wasn’t any basis of – of anything that he claimed he was going to do. There was nothing.

Mike: So are there other reasons why we’re so committed? How – when did – basically, when did you know that it was rock solid in your head? That you weren’t going to change your mind?


Melissa: When I saw the kids in cages.

Shayna:Yeah. Yeah.

Mike: So yeah, Melissa said when she saw the kids in cages –

Shayna: I think the kids in cages was what sent me completely over the edge there. I was actually willing to give Trump a chance. You know, cause yeah – yeah, he was racist, but America’s been racist for a long time. But, when I saw kids in cages and he wasn’t doing anything about it, that was – that was really a turning point.

Ann: And the first lady [inaudible] sweatshirt that said ‘I do not care’ when she went to visit the kids in cages.

Participants: [agreement]

Shayna: Yeah.

Melissa: Yes.

Shayna: Yeah. I can’t. I can’t do that.

Ann: I was done. Done.

Mike: Yup.

Bella: Yeah, I’m actually gonna one up Kathi and say that I knew ever since the – the polls were finalized, that Trump had won the election. So ever since then knew that I wasn’t going to vote for him when I was able to vote.

Mike:So –

Jacintha: Yeah. Yeah, it was – I was never going to – I cried on election night, so I knew I was never going to – I cried.


Jacintha:So, I knew that I was – I would vote for a Democratic candidate. I – I – I think, what – what – would – had it been one of the other candidates? Maybe I – maybe I wouldn’t have been a 10. But I think as the events unfolded and the party itself, chose Biden, you know – What happened in South Carolina and everything that happened since South Carolina has said it – it has solidified, that it – that it would be, if you’re talking about Biden, as opposed to say Buttigieg or one of the – one of the candidates, but it would always have to have been the Democrat. The number might’ve been different, but it would always set to have been the Democrat.


Nina: I knew when – when he was… Mic’s not on… I knew when he made fun of – of the reporter that would. That – And the second thing that did it was the Bible thing. That – that really did it for me. That was the end. I – I – there’s no way I could ever consider voting for him.

Ann: Weren’t you surprised he didn’t burn his fingers?

Nina: Yep.

Mike: Ann – Ann, as our – yes, Siobhan and then, yup.

Siobhan: I have to say that, I do try to hear them out. Like, I think we need Republicans, Democrats, and independents, because we wouldn’t be a democracy without them there’s been Democrats in the past that I have supported and agree. I mean, I love what LBJ did for this country and so forth. So, I did hear them out, but what sealed the deal for me is: my family got attacked because we have a police tag on our license plate. And Kamala and Biden just don’t care about the police. And they go and support the criminals. And without law and order, we don’t have a country. We won’t be able to listen to the media on how they say Biden’s has Alzheimer’s and how Trump is inappropriate again. We won’t have that. If you don’t have order in your country, you don’t have a country. And I know there’s other things that are important. I put the lesser of two evils on my list, but when my family was almost killed that day, just because we have a police tag by an anti-police and she had Biden on her car, too, just like anti-police. And it was handwritten in Sharpie.

Mike: Yup. So –

Siobhan: I just can’t live in a world like that.

Mike: I’m actually going to follow up on that, but just quick show of hands. Did anyone vote for Trump in 2016? So, Ann I’m seeing a no. So, who did you support?

Ann: I voted for Hillary.


Ann:Feminist first! It’s gonna be a really difficult decision. I’m going to have my ballot in front of me, and that’s when I’m going to make my decision. Because I’m a feminist first, so I should vote for Kamala. And, it’s going to be really tough decision for me because I’m also a card-carrying Republican, you know, since Truman. I just don’t know if I’m going to be able to cross over the line again.

Mike: So, I actually want to follow up on that and then everyone feel free to jump in after she gives her thoughts. What are Biden’s weak points? So, your our most middle of the road – you’re leaning towards not a hundred percent decided. Ann, what’s your hesitations about Biden?

Ann: Well, he wasn’t there in 1965 marching next to John Lewis. He has 40 years in Congress of not supporting black rights or equal rights or creating a path to citizenship for the children in cages. I think that the man is ineffectual. Can’t think of one thing he did that was effective during Obama’s years.

Siobhan: Right.

Ann: You know, he is just not been effective for 40 years and the fact that they kept reelecting him. It’s because you know, his wife and daughter were killed on the eve of the election. And then his son was a military serviceman with cancer. And, you know – I mean, he has a great sob story and you want to feel sorry for the guy, but that doesn’t make him a good leader. So, you know, I really believe in the Republican platform. That we support our first responders.

Jacintha: They don’t have one.

Ann: We do have a platform. We [inaudible]


Siobhan: Excuse me? We – emergency responders don’t have a platform?

Nina: No, the Republican party chose not–

Siobhan:Sorry. [inaudible]

Nina:The Republican Party choose not to have a platform.


Jacintha: [inaudible] has no platform.


Nina:Chose after their convention.

Siobhan:I’m a Republican, but I accept that.

Jacintha: [inaudible] There’s no official platform. They have no official platform.

Ann: They dp have an official platform. You can go on the website and look at it. They’re supported by– we believe in gun rights. We believe in state rights. We believe in supporting our first responders, our police and our firemen. We believe in, you know, people have more freedom and less governance by the government.

Nina: A lot of people believe in, in, in second amendment rights, they really do [inaudible].

Ann: The Democratic platform is very socialist and that makes me very uncomfortable.

Mike: So a couple of the questions —

Melissa: Explain socialist…

Mike: No, Melissa, please.

Melissa: I just wanted the definition that she has of socialists, that’s all. When she said —

Siobhan: Not all Democrats are socialists.


Melissa: ‘Cause I don’t understand. But –

Ann: You know, it was a Republican policy that did workfare. I hired fair people, women that wanted to get back into the workforce and get off welfare. I hired those women. I trained those women. I know that work fare works. You know, that it empowers women. I’ve trained over 900 housewives to reenter the workforce as home health aides.

Melissa: But are you saying Democrats don’t want to do that?

Ann: Well, it was a Republican… You said – I said I support the Republican platform. It was a Republican program that funded us. It was Work fare that funded us, you know, I believe —

Melissa: And – and there was no funding for it when Obama was in office?

Ann: I’m sorry?

Melissa: There was no funding for that type of thing when Obama was –

Ann: Was de-funded under Obama.

Siobhan: Yeah.

Ann:You know, we had to end our program because Obama took office. So, you know, that kind of broke my heart because you know –

Melissa: My daughter in her urban school district, she was always sending people out to where they could get help from the government. And that was during the Obama years. So, I’m just confused. That’s all.


Siobhan: But no, it was in place when Obama came in office and then it was slowly defunded taken away from him. So, the first few years, they were still able to do that stuff.

Melissa: And then the Republicans took over Congress and defunded.

Nina: I was going to say, who de-funded it?

Siobhan: The congress is Democrat; the senate is Republican.

Ann:[inaudible] defunded [inaudible] there was a Republican [inaudible]

Melissa: But now, but the last few years of Obama – that was also a Republican Congress. When we had John Boehner, the speaker of the house.

Ann: [inaudible]

Mike: So I just – I hate to interrupt, but I just have a couple extra questions while I still have you guys here. So in terms of voting, raise your hand if you are going to be voting in person. If that – if that’s your plan right now. So, I see Nina, Siobhan…So –

Shayna:I actually am not sure. I mean, either going to do – I requested a mail in ballot, but I’m perfectly willing to go in person.

Mike: So, does anyone have any concerns about, and just feel free to jump in, on the integrity of the election? So, do you think there’s anything behind either the ballots and so – Shayna, I see you shaking your head. What are your concerns?

Shayna: I – I think there’s so much confusion being stirred right now. That I think, well, number one, I think Trump is intentionally sowing seeds of confusion because he is going to contest the results, unless they’re in his favor. So if Biden is winning. I don’t think Trump will accept it because I think he did the same thing in 2016, to sow doubt constantly just in case he loses because I don’t think-


Siobhan: I think they’re both doing it though.

Shayna: I don’t think he would lose well, and I think the whole post office thing. You know, I think the post office itself, you know, should be left alone –

Siobhan: That I do agree.

Shayna:But all of this shifting of, you know, putting the guy in leadership, who’s clearly partisan. What – with what should be a nonpartisan government institution is suspect, so —

Siobhan: Now I have a question for Shayna ‘cause you did your research, if you don’t mind. What’s the difference between the mail-in and the absentee ballot that we’ve always had? Can you –


Kathi:I work [inaudible]


Siobhan:Is there a definite answer?


Shayna: Yeah. Absentee is if you don’t live where you would normally be voting. Or can’t get to the polls.


Nina:Can’t get there

Ann: If you’re on a military base.

Shayna: Yeah. If you’re on a military base or you’re –

Ann:Permanently [inaudible]

Shayna:Out of the country or something or you’re an expatriate. But, for mail-in voting, you can request to send in your ballot because you don’t want to go – Because of the coronavirus, some states – Some states have been doing mail-in voting forever. Like Oregon has had mail-in voting, for, like, 20 years. And they have a high participation rate, and they have like almost no fraud whatsoever. And they’ve done it for a long time. Other States –

Siobhan: So, when you have the absentee ballot, you – you still drop it off in person?

Shayna: No, you mail it in.

Siobhan: So what’s the difference?

Shayna: Well, mailing, not absentee is…[inaudible]


Shayna: [inaudible] people don’t want to show up because of the Coronavirus.

Mike: So quick question for those of you who aren’t planning on voting in person, what was the reason? Is it something beyond the coronavirus or is that the main reason, Melissa? I think I saw you were not planning on voting in person.

Melissa: Main reason, obviously I’m in my seventies. Need I go further with this coronavirus? So I just feel – I want to live to see the new president. So, I’m going to vote by mail.



Nina: [inaudible] because I – in New Hampshire, we have never – I’ve never in my life had an actual voting machine. I want to see how it’s done. In New Hampshire, voting day is like family day. Everybody shows up; you bring your kids and baked goods. Great.

Mike: So I want to squeeze in just one last exercise. Just so I can get as much information as possible before – just like a wrap up question. So, if you could just grab a pen –

Ann: Mike, I’m voting by mail because I’m lazy.

Mike: Okay. So not due to corona.


Mike:Appreciate the honesty.

Anne: [inaudible] to the polls. I’ve been voting by mail for years now.

Kathi: I’m going to vote. I will be voting by mail.

Mike: By mail. Yup.

Kathi:In fact, my application is – it just came in the mail today. I work our precinct. Will not probably be in my own precinct, because there are not enough people to work the polls in their own precinct. So, I will probably be shipped out to, you know, another one. And, as busy as that day is going to be, I’m concerned that I’m not going to be able to get to my precinct, which – we really aren’t to leave, to be able to vote. So, I’m going to vote by mail.

Mike: And do you have any concerns about the integrity of it, of like the mail-in ba –?

Kathi: Absolutely not. If you knew the system in the state of Pennsylvania, I can speak for – if you knew the system, you would not have a concern. There’s checks and balances. That’s it – There is no way you can vote twice. Your dog does not get a vote.

Participant: Right.

Mike: So, If you could just write down, just top of mind, one word or phrase of just impression. So beyond policies, just your impression of Trump and then your impression of Biden. So just really try to focus it. Just what one word or phrase first comes to mind for each candidate?

Siobhan:Should I go?

Mike: Yup. So, I’ll give you guys a second. Write down and then I’ll start with you.

Siobhan: Biden, I feel – I feel very sorry for him. Something’s going on and his family is not helping. Trump, lesser of two evils.

Bella: I will just say –

Mike: Lesser of. So Siobhan, I’m gonna summarize that up as lesser of two evils. So that was for Trump. How about Biden? Just what- top of mind? Impression?

Siobhan: Unstable. Something’s going on.

Mike: Unstable? Okay. Ann, how about you? What was your Trump word?

Ann: Law and order.

Mike: Law and order?

Ann: Yeah, the way he supports the police and supports, you know, having guns and, you know, personal freedoms.

Mike: And how about for Biden?

Ann: Well, I – over the past 40 years, I’ve found him to be ineffectual.

Mike: Ineffectual? Okay.

Ann: So, you know, I’m – I’m really struggling with this election because I want to vote for Kamala. She’s female. I’d like her, but I really, really just don’t feel that Biden, at 78 years old, has got the energy to be effective in any way.

Mike: Yup.

Ann: So, I –

Mike: So –

Ann:Probably going to vote for Trump, but might write in Booker Abrams, which is my first choice.

Mike: So Shayna, what’s your word for Trump?

Shayna: I wrote down, terrible leader.

Mike: Terrible leader. And how about for Biden? I’m sorry. I’m sorry to be rushing these. I don’t want to keep you guys forever, but, since this is recorded and I can go back and watch this over and over and really dig through it, I just want to hear your opinions. So, what was for Biden?

Shayna: Decent.

Mike: Decent. And Melissa, word for Trump?

Melissa: For Trump? I wrote unfit.

Mike: Unfit. Okay. And how about for Biden?

Melissa: I wrote down hopeful, intelligent.

Mike: Hopeful, intelligent. So, Bella, what’s your Trump word?

Bella:For Trump, I put terrifying.

Mike: Terrifying. Okay. How about for Biden?

Bella:Biden? I put hope.

Mike: Hope. All right, Nina?

Nina: Well, I had – I was tied between, for Trump – immoral and unstable and, for Biden, I wrote hope and kind.

Mike: Okay. Jacintha? What’s your word for Trump?

Jacintha: He has no soul, and I’ll go back to that. The man has no soul. I questioned his humanity, so he has no soul. For Biden, I would say moral leadership.

Mike: All right. And Kathi, so what was your word for Trump?

Kathi: Trump?

Mike: Yup.

Kathi: Four letters: liar. And for Biden, I have he’s compassionate, and he will be a good listener. That’s it.

Mike: Alright. Alright. So, I want to get one more question. Hopefully, so I just want to give you guys something to think about for a second. I’m just going to check in with my directors and see if there’s any other questions they need to know –

Ann: Just want to interject one thing –


Ann:Before you go. If this is in some way being communicated to the campaigns, they really should tell Biden in that the Botox last week didn’t work. He had Botox in his forehead.


Ann:They’re over-lighting him on the commercials; the bright white light that shiny to his face to make it look younger. Is not effective.

Nina: Look at Trump’s hair.

Siobhan: Nah, I think he has a disease that causes –


Mike: Okay.

Jacintha: [inaudible] the comb-over.

Kathi: Along with the clown makeup. Okay.

Jacintha:The clown makeup. I like that.

Siobhan: Oh the spray tan. I will give you that.

Mike: So, I’m going to pose a –Bella. I’ll let you squeeze in.

Bella: Sorry. I did want to say something about Biden because I actually did not know this until fairly recently,… is that he has a stutter. And that’s why he trips over his words so much. He’s – he’s gotten so much better with it. I had no idea. I thought that there might’ve been something going on too, but then I found out that he actually, like [inaudible]—

Ann: We know. We know he has a stutter. He’s had it for 40 years. 50!

Siobhan: And I have a stutter, but I know the words. I just can’t pronounciate them. He has a disease and it’s sad.

Nina: Come on. Trump has misspoken so many times.

Siobhan: Trump’s socially inappropriate; he knows damn well what he’s saying. But the old man, he doesn’t. I’m sorry.

Ann: I – I’m just saying the Botox isn’t working for him.

Mike: Alright. So one last thing to end on a more general note. So, you all have, it seems like there’s lots of different opinions, but it seems like you also all have a lot in common. If you have to think about why you feel the way you do, are there certain issues or reasons that you think are the underlying causes?

Shayna: Well, life experience.

Ann: For me, I think it was the fact that I was a single parent for 17 years. By myself raised my kids. Didn’t get married again until late in life. Thank God, I am now married, but, I was alone for many years. And my opinions of how to be supportive as a government were shaped by those years. I got precious little support. When I got divorced in the early eighties, it was shameful for women to get divorced. It was not respected for women to go to work and support their own family. And I really had to buck the system to do that. So, I think that shapes a lot of my opinions today. And my daughter is more like Bella than like me because of it. She believes in – in strength and freedom and – and social causes, and she’s an activist and – and I’m very proud of her, but I also diverge from her in beliefs because of what I endured.

Mike: So other people – That was insightful. What do you think – what are the other underlying reasons why you feel – why you feel the way you feel for lack of a better word?Siobhan. And then I’m going to open it up, so if we can keep it a little quick, just ‘cause I do want to go around the room and have everyone have a chance to respond to this –

Siobhan: Obviously it came down to my personal experience and I did appreciate everybody’s opinion, but I’m gonna pick on Kathi. If I lived out of Kathi and did my list then it may be Biden. If she lived in my shoes and my experience and wrote her list, it may be different.

Mike: Yup.

Siobhan:Just the personal experience, like having to take all police garden decor because our friends were being followed home from the police station. I don’t want to live like that. I can’t live like that.

Mike: Anyone else want to jump in any final thoughts… Jacinta?

Jacintha: Faith. I’m a Catholic. I spent my life working in – I’m completely Catholic education, including my graduate. My children were raised Catholic. I attend mass regularly – weekly. I worked in Catholic institutions for over 35 years. So you know – love your neighbor as yourself. The – the – what you see, not hate, but – but compassion. And in those programs, I also worked – those programs that I worked with for 30 years in higher education included social justice. So the idea of equity and fairness and – and that background and – and I devoted my life… to that. And that’s – that’s a strong, so – so I would say that that’s an important – and maybe that’s why I say Trump has no soul. But that it –that’s really important to me that –that I think is part of my character. And that is what I look for in someone else’s character and leadership.

Mike: Thank you for that. And Bella —

Ann: Maybe if Tom Selleck was running. You know, from Blue Bloods.

Bella: So, like I – like I said before. I’m a music education major. And actually a lot of – the more I have – this is going to sound kind of funny, but a lot of them came from my experiences in marching band in high school. I was in marching band all four years of high school. And it not only teaches you to think that it’s not just about yourself. It’s about everybody else. You have to work together. And not even just to mention the whole idea of the arts in creativity and emotion and compassion. All of those are so incredibly important. And, I also think it’s interesting to note that both of my parents were registered Republicans. They switched over, but they were registered Republicans. They were actually a bit more middle of the line than I was, and a lot of what I had experienced, in school and just by doing my own research. You know, I feel like it’s your civic duty to do your research and be civically engaged and politically engaged in all aspects, local, state, national – Make sure you know what you’re talking about. Do not just spout nonsense based on your own opinions. Make sure that you have the facts. And I feel like, basically, all of those are what helped me to get to the conclusions that I’ve come to today.

Melissa: Mike?

Mike: Who was the – was that Melissa?

Melissa:Yes. I just want to say here and now that it’s because of people like Bella, that there is hope for this country. She’s young. She’s smart. She’s intelligent. She’s engaged in what’s going on. And, and she just gives me hope for the future.

Mike: Glad to hear – I love ending on a positive note. So, Shayna and Nina, Kathi, you guys just want to jump in at all? Just main thing that you think or not main thing, but just anything that you think really led you to believe the way you do today.

Nina: I think it’s all about your experience in life because I – I was very active in marching for women’s rights and – and, I’m sorry, but, whatever your belief is, but for women’s reproductive rights. I mean, there were a lot of things that I agitated for and marched in. And I think I’m older than you, Ann, and I think I’m older than you. And – and I felt like I did my part then so divorced in the eighties. I was – it didn’t matter to me at all. It didn’t. So clearly our life experience has shaped who we are and what we feel. But you’re right, Bella, this is all about hope and – and your generation I really have strong belief in. So, keep up the good work, girl.

Mike: Shayna?

Shayna: I would probably, yeah. Life experience and, you know, I have – I check a lot of different boxes on the – I mean, I grew up urban. Presently live in a suburban neighborhood; I am a small business owner. African American. I’m a woman. And so, all of those kind of wrapped up into one, colored my decision making. I’m a person of faith. I’m a pastor, as well. So, there’s a lot of things that I consider when I think about who I’m going to vote for. I was not a Biden supporter in the primary season. This year I was more politically active than I’ve ever been. I’ve never attended town hall meetings, in my community, but I did. I was gonna – I was going to be a delegate to the DNC. When it was in person, until my candidate dropped out, and then I just was going to support the nominee. So, I’ve been more engaged this year because I sense the urgency and I think it does take more involvement. Like, I don’t want to wonder, if I could have done more to help in what I think is a really critical election. So, I don’t want to, you know, look into the future and say, “man, I wish I had just you know talked to one person or I wish I had sent a text message or something” —

Mike: Yup.

Shayna: Or volunteered some time. So I just want to make sure that I’m doing my part cause otherwise. You know, our – our voices collectively need to be heard because all of these experiences together will hopefully send the country in –in the right direction. If we learn actually how to work together, we don’t have to agree all the time, but we do have –

Mike: Yup.

Shayna: To agree on a particular trajectory. So, and right now I don’t – I don’t like the trajectory of the country. So —

Mike: And so, Kathi, wrap us up. Just any thoughts on what led you to where you are? Like your feelings today.

Kathi: Well, my feelings today would be. If you – if I did not want you dating my daughters, I don’t want you running my country. The man has —

Mike: I like that.


Kathi: Yah, I mean, when he talks about women, like the way he does demeaning to people? No Thanks. I don’t want you in my family.

Mike: Alright. So, I —

Nina: I’ve been drawing this whole time. It’s like a little doodle, but it’s like a patchwork quilt.

Mike: Yeah.

Nina: Because that’s who we are. I appreciate every one of you.

Mike: Absolutely.

Nina: And your input. It’s great. And we are – this is what we have to be in this country, but we have to come back together again.

Mike: And honestly, thank you so much for your time. It was a passionate conversation. It’s – again, you guys did the surveys where we know we just ask approve/disapprove. You give us those top line numbers. This really was to dig into those numbers. Understand the why behind it, the why behind the voters, and you guys were great. I just want to say thank you so much for your time. Either myself, or most likely Jay DeDapper, will be in contact, if we need anything. We’ll let you know. Honestly, I think we’re good. I think the biggest thing I learned is we need to schedule at least four hours the next time, ‘cause I would have loved to just continue these conversations, but I did have some points I have to hit. So, if you feel like I – if you feel like I cut you off at any point, I am very sorry. And next time I definitely need at least twice the time –

Kathi:Can I –

Mike:‘Cause you’re great. You are an absolutely amazing group.

Kathi: Could I just say one thing?

Mike: Yes, please.

Kathi: Isn’t this the wonderful part of being in the United States, living in United States, that we can do this? We can all have our opinions and it’ll show November 3rd.

Mike: I started this job actually 10 years ago at this point as a student on the phone doing the public opinion surveys – You guys all did the public opinion surveys. Some people ask, well, ‘what do I get for doing the survey?’ I would say we’re in a democracy, someone’s asking you for your opinion. And I completely agree, Kathi.

Nina: Thank you, Kathi.

Mike: And as a person that works on this side, I appreciate your opinions so much and taking the time to spend with me tonight. Alright, so you are – you’re free to go. Again, Jay will be in contact. If you need anything, I believe you have – you’ve all been in email contact with him or have his phone number at this point. Feel free to reach out. Otherwise, thank you so much. I really do appreciate your time and opinions today.

Ann: Mike, are we getting a scale [inaudible] a poll to rate you as a presenter?

Mike:If you’d like to. You can – There’s a contact box there. Please feel free.

Nina:10! There you go 10!

Bella, Nina, Jacinta:[Holds up 10 fingers]

Mike: Thank you guys so much. You’ve been absolutely great.

finger holding an "I Voted" sticker

Likely Voter Models: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

Polls in the U.S. traditionally switch their election polls to show likely voters just after Labor Day, roughly eight weeks prior to Election Day. So what is a likely voter model? Why wait until Labor Day to use it? What goes into the Marist Poll’s model? Keep reading to find the answers.


“How we determine who is likely to cast a ballot in a particular election.”


“To make the poll even more accurate and a reflection of who is going to go to the polls.”


“Labor Day is the kickoff to the campaign, it’s when the campaigns gear up, voters start focusing.”

What is a Likely Voter Model?

One question that’s really important that election polling answers is who’s likely to cast a ballot in a particular election. Not everyone votes, so it’s really important to identify those people who are likely to participate. There are lots of different ways of doing this, and every pollster has their ‘secret sauce.’

At the Marist Poll we ask several questions to identify likely voters: how interested a person is in the election, how they would rate their chance of voting, and if they’ve participated in similar elections in the past. We put these questions all together, kind of creating a model — almost an algorithm — where we identify and give each person a probability or likelihood of voting. In this way, we hope to make the poll even more accurate, and a reflection of who is going to go to the polls.

Why Do We Use a Likely Voter Model?

Why do we need to go through all this trouble to identify likely voters and create a model of the likely electorate? Surveys are only valuable if they can tell us something about a larger group of people than just the ones we interview. Surveys need to be representative of a group of people we want to know about, in this case, those voters who are likely to cast a ballot in an election.

We know not all voters vote in every election. So, if we are to understand what’s going on in an election, we need the opinions of those people who will participate or ultimately cast a ballot. Research tells us that some people who say they are going to vote, don’t end up voting. And some people who say they are not going to vote, actually decide to do so in the end.

So we create a model that estimates the probability or likelihood that someone will vote. And in that way, we can get a better sense of the types of people, young versus old, Democrat and Republican, men, women who are going to participate. And we also can find out which candidate they support. This goes a long way to giving us an idea of what’s going on in a particular election.

When Do We Use a Likely Voter Model?

Identifying likely voters is an important part of election polling. But, timing is important. Too far away from an election, and you’re more likely to be measuring a candidate’s most ardent supporters, or just finding those people who are “political geeks” —  they follow politics all year round!

Instead, we at the Marist Poll generally think of Labor Day as the kickoff to the campaign. It’s when the campaigns really gear up, voters start focusing, there are debates, and you’re much more likely to be able to actually measure accurately who is likely to participate and cast a ballot in an election.

NBC News/Marist Poll: The Education Weight Debate

The 2019 Kentucky Governor’s Race: A Case Study of State Polling

Poll Hub’s Trip to Spring Training

On Major League Baseball’s Opening Day, the Poll Hub team reflects on one of the most memorable events of the pre-season — their trip to Yankees Spring Training in Tampa, Florida.

During their adventure, Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist Institute for Public Opinion, Dr. Barbara L. Carvalho, Director of the Marist Poll, and friend of Poll Hub John Sparks spoke with fellow fans about the state of the game and the cost of going to the ballpark.

VIDEO: 1968: The Year That Rocked American Politics, A Discussion with Jeff Greenfield

In this fourth and final installment of the series, 1968: The Year that Rocked American Politics, the Poll Hub team welcomes author, journalist, and former aide to Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Jeff Greenfield.

Greenfield reflects on his time as a staffer on Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign and offers his insights into the shifting political landscape of 1968 and the impact of that tumultuous time.

The entire event was streamed live on Facebook.

VIDEO: 1968: The Year That Rocked American Politics, The Marist Poll Welcomes Lynn Novick

In part three of the four-part panel series, 1968: The Year That Rocked American Politics, the team behind The Marist College Poll’s podcast, Poll Hub, speaks with Emmy and Peabody Award winning filmmaker Lynn Novick. Novick is the co-producer and co-director with Ken Burns of the 10-part, 18-hour epic documentary, The Vietnam War. In this insightful discussion, Novick addresses the significance of 1968 in the conflict, the idea that there is not just one truth to the war, and how her experience working on this groundbreaking documentary influenced her view of the Vietnam War.

The entire event was streamed live on Facebook as will our future conversation with author and political analyst, Jeff Greenfield. You can watch on our Facebook Page and if you follow us there, you’ll be notified when our next session goes live.

VIDEO: 1968: The Year that Rocked American Politics, The Marist Poll Welcomes Bob Herbert

In part two of the four-part series, 1968: The Year that Rocked American Politics, the team of Poll Hub, a production of the Marist College Poll, welcomed journalist, filmmaker, and Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos, Bob Herbert. Herbert, writer and producer of the documentary Against All Odds, discusses 1968 as a pivotal year in the Civil Rights Movement, addresses where the quest for equality stands today, and reflects on his personal experiences during this tumultuous period.

1968: The Year that Rocked American Politics commemorates 50 years since 1968, the tumultuous year in American society which laid the groundwork for today’s political system and defined a generation. It is presented in conjunction with the course of the same name offered by Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion and member of the political science faculty at Marist College.

The panel series is hosted by the team behind the Marist Poll’s podcast, Poll Hub — Dr. Miringoff, Dr. Barbara L. Carvalho, Director of the Marist Poll, and Jay DeDapper, Director of Innovation at the Marist Poll.

1968: The Year That Rocked American Politics, A Discussion with E.J. Dionne, Jr.

The Marist College Poll presents the first installation in a four-part panel series, 1968: The Year that Rocked American Politics. The series commemorates 50 years since 1968, the tumultuous year in American society which laid the groundwork for today’s political system and defined a generation.

In this first discussion, we were pleased to welcome E.J. Dionne, Jr., columnist for The Washington Post, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and author of One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet-Deported. Dionne offered his unique insights into 1968 and its impact 50 years later.

1968: The Year that Rocked American Politics is hosted by the team behind the Marist Poll’s podcast, Poll Hub — Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion and member of the political science faculty at Marist College, Dr. Barbara L. Carvalho, Director of the Marist Poll, and Jay DeDapper, Director of Innovation at the Marist Poll.

1968: The Year that Rocked American Politics is presented in conjunction with Dr. Miringoff’s course of the same name offered this semester at Marist College.