Dr. Frank Luntz

Pollster and Political Analyst

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Commentary

‘Two bad choices’: Undecided voters before Biden-Trump debate

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Dr. Frank Luntz

Pollster and Political Analyst

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American voters face a stark binary choice this November between two very different presidential candidates with opposing visions for America. Most voters already have a firm idea of who they plan to vote for and why, and yet some remain undecided. Undecided voters, in addition to going either way on the ballot, might choose to vote third-party or even to abstain from voting altogether.

In this 15-minute episode of America Speaks, pollster and political analyst Dr. Frank Luntz interviews a group of undecided voters prior to the first Biden-Trump debate of 2024 and asks them to share why they’ve not yet made up their minds and what key issues might persuade them.


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Have a look at how our other contributors view this issue from across the political spectrum:

David Pakman: Donald Trump is mentally unwell.

Dr. Rashad Richey: Democracy is on the ballot this November.

Ben Weingarten: Anti-Trumpers care about power, not democracy.

With all due respect, and I have it, how the hell can you be undecided? When you got two candidates that could not be more different? Each of you can you tell me how you’ve not made up your mind? Howard, I’ll start with you. And John, I’ll go to you next.
My biggest thing is we have two presidents that have been President. We saw what happened in 2016 to 2020. With Trump. I’ve seen what’s happened since 2021 to 2024 would buy it. And I’m looking to see what’s going to be different for the next four years other than the same stuff we’ve seen for the past eight, that has been horrible.
And that’s why you’re undecided. Yes.
Okay, somebody else? Explain why at this point, you are still undecided.
I guess.
I’m undecided. I wasn’t old enough to vote for Trump in 2016. I voted for Biden in 2020. And then really starting 2021 to this current year was kind of my political awakening. I mean, there are see I have serious issues with both candidates. Age being one of them. And
Trump, obviously, I’m tired of hearing all the stolen election bullshit. For the last four years. It wasn’t stolen.
And Biden it like, every day I see a gaffe. Or I see something out of his administration that makes me cringe. And it’s like, Oh, my God, is there anyone else? And so I’m constantly ping pong between hands up physical hands.
Is this are you choosing the better of two good candidates? Are you choosing the least worst of two bad candidates? Who says they’re choosing the better of two good candidates? Raise your hands?
I see one, two hands up. Who says you choosing the least worst candidate? Raise your hands? And that’s destroyed? Okay, that’s what So explain to me, John, why are you still undecided?
Because I don’t believe either of them have made the sale yet. The final push maybe tonight’s debate my meat something. I also am intrigued that there’s three or four other third party candidates that I’m willing to at least take a look at. Emily, why you still undecided. I don’t have confidence in either of the candidates. To be honest with you. I feel like I’m choosing between a circus and a nursing home. And that’s not the perception that I want our country to convey. Thomas, are you for the circus? Are you for the nursing home?
I’m a normal one issue voter, whoever is going to take my money and raise taxes. But when you start talking about taking away my rights, it causes me to start wondering if I can support you even if you’re not going to take my life, because my rights are able to help me get my money.
Adam, why you undecided still totally agree with the circus and nursing home analogy there.
I think like Donald from his past chaotic,
interested in re litigating the past and really deviates from traditional Republican policies. And Joe Biden’s policies have just failed. Like I still feel like you know, myself, my family are struggling pretty much and so it’s two bad choices at this point. Michael, you’re up and then read Europe. I was recently undecided. Frank. I tend to become less undecided now. Mostly, not mostly, but strongly because of these, the court cases and that the loss there. I’m not a fan of Trump. I think he I think he’s a Bulgarian I think he’s a bull in a china shop. But I don’t like injustice more. I can’t stand it. When that first verdict first came through. I was talking to a friend I’m like, I will crawl over glass to vote for this man now. Not because I like them. But because this what happened is just so disgusting and unfair. It just pissed me off to no end. And that rage and that anger because of that the abuse of the justice system and the hypocrisy of them saying to my
received this democracy that and then going and doing this,
you know, a physician heal thyself.
I couldn’t I couldn’t take it anymore, Frank. And that was basically it. Karen, why you still undecided?
Well, I’m not a double hater. It’s not that I do not like either candidate. I don’t vote by who I like, I am
looking for a leader, I am looking for a future. And the most frustrating thing in all of this is, of course, the politics, which has nothing to do with governing. And I guess I’m old fashioned. I want to know that we have a leader, not a ruler. I don’t bend anybody. My motto in life is don’t do anything just because somebody told you to. And I cannot, in my mind, look at these alternatives right now. with a clear conscience, and say one is better than the other. But I think Trump is a loose cannon. And he does what he wants to do. He doesn’t always follow
the methods and the policies and procedures we have in place, but Biden then hit and the inflation and economic outlook that we have right now I’m I just found out that I’ll be losing my job of 13 years because the organization is getting rid of 45 people at the end of September because of budget issues.
Okay, so I got to ask you guys,
Who’s mad that you got this choice? Who’s actually angry that these year two, whole bunch of hands go up? And I want these questions. I want Americans to see this. Christina, why are you angry about these choices?
Because I think we get the kids we deserve. When we allow them to misbehave, I was a huge Nikki Haley fan, I volunteered I have done this for a living before as a as a young person. And I’m mad because there are better options that were willing to lead and people stayed at home and didn’t vote in their primary, which has so much power. Howard, why are you angry to two choices? I am mad because this country can do so much better. This country could do so much better versus a felon, and versus a guy who all intents and purposes has dementia.
We it’s gonna come down to the vice president because the highly likeliness of either one living through the next four years is very slim.
Adam, are you angry at you two choices? Yeah, a little bit to be honest. Like we live in a country of 330 350 million people. And these are the best two we got. Like, I think all of us can think of politicians on both sides of the aisle. I happen to be like a big Nikki Haley fan. But I can think of Democrats too. Would wouldn’t mind to the White House. And like we’d still managed to 80 plus year olds, basically that have tons and tons of liabilities that I think are bad leaders. Michael, go ahead. It’s the two party system. It’s like, I feel like we’re choosing between a dead battery in a flat tire. And for stuck with it.
John, Amy, Emily, what character traits do you are you looking for in a presidential candidate that will push you off undecided? So someone who can answer the 3am phone call when they have that emergency phone rings when there’s an emergent when there’s a crisis? And and not someone who either sends it out of touch?
Or fires off a tweet storm at 230 in the morning.
Amy, why are these specific? What is the attribute you’re looking for?
I think trustworthiness which comes into play with being able to make hard decisions,
but being able to stand up to the American public and let them know their reasons for making those decisions. Emily, what is it about the attributes or character traits you’re looking for? I’m looking for a president who can compromise who can bring this division together just I think it was Bill Maher Who said I’m not ready to hate half the country and I’m really not I need to see a president who can who can so us back. John, be specific. I don’t want three. I want one policy initiative that matters most to you tonight.
lowering taxes for all Americans.
Tom Thomas, what’s the specific issue tonight
ensuring that everyone in this country has the same rights
do they
Do they, Tom?
More than you’re not?
Adam, what’s the specific issue you’re looking for tonight? Ideally, we’d like to see something on the retirement system. I mean, Social Security is going to default here and several years, and I don’t think there’s a good replacement, we have two candidates calling for essentially keeping on keeping on until that defaults. Like, that’s a problem for people like me, Michael, and then James. Common Sense, common sense and common sense. But that’s not an issue. That’s an attribute.
Okay, immigration. And what is it about immigration that bothers you? The obvious, it’s obvious.
9 million people have come in and since since he first started, it’s it’s just it’s, it’s unsafe. And it’s just
it’s out of control.
And James, you just joined us? What is the specific issue that you that matters most you making a decision?
I’ve been really undecided. And I basically just,
there’s parts of like both candidates that I’m not trusting and
it just doesn’t seem like they’re very productive in terms of their policies.
Okay, and what’s the specific issue you care about the most?
Well, I care about the economy. And I also care about, about the economy, the specific law, inflation and prices are. Okay. I’m gonna ask every one of you the debate starts in five minutes. I’m going to ask you first give Donald Trump advice. How does he win your vote? And I’m gonna do the same thing with Joe Biden. Are you ready?
Yes. John from Arizona. What advice would you give Joe Biden
don’t find don’t fall into the shit talking trap.
Christina, what advice would you give Biden?
A show that you are brave and can lead. How would your advice for Biden show how next four years will be different than the previous four? peers? Your advice for Biden, the bar is already so low look alive.
Amy, you’re advice
to talk about issues clearly and concisely. Gary, stay out of the Mideast. That’s I made up my mind. Adam, be alert and cohesive.
Karen
approach this like it’s not theater. It’s real.
Be real. Emily, stay on topic.
Thomas,
the real.
Michael,
be honest, and maybe apologize for some major mistakes that you made.
John,
explain how in your second term, you’re going to unite the country and be a president for all Americans. We’d open your eyes.
James, instead of pointing the finger, be proactive. Come up with a plan and be sincere and genuine. Listen to your people.
Let’s do exactly the opposite. I now want your specific one or two sentence piece of advice for Donald Trump. James, I’m gonna start with you.
Well, don’t be so argumentative and, you know, trying to blow everything out of proportion.
Read
take your ego hat off. Michael.
Speak Like a human being. Be
patient. And Emily, be respectful. Thomas.
Be real. Don’t think you’re above anyone else. Heron advice for Trump.
Don’t
use the words I me or mine. In any response. You Sally George Harrison, Adam Weiser Trump. Talk about the use of the future and don’t resort to any name calling. Gary Scott retaliating. Amy take it seriously. Pierce, stay strong, stay composed and say no. You know, be nice. John.
Stop living in the past. Christina be respectful
Give me some substance and stop talking and cultural work. Talking Points. Howard. Don’t play the victim card stick to the issues. This has been a fantastic conversation. Let’s go to the video

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