Swing voters in Michigan focus group say Biden choosing Harris pushed them to Trump

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A group of Michigan voters who cast ballots for President Obama but then voted for GOP nominee Donald Trump in 2016 said they’ll back him again in 2020 because of Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris.

In a post-event focus group forum hosted by Axios following Harris’ debate last week with Vice President Mike Pence, the vast majority said they were going to stick with President Trump because they believe at some point during a Biden presidency Harris would ascend to the Oval Office, and they don’t want that.

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

Everyone in the 13-person group agreed, though two are going to vote for Biden because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy, though the one is directly tied to the other and President Trump never ordered states to lock down.

Biden supposedly leads President Trump in Michigan by 6 points, according to the RealClearPolitics average. Trump won the longtime blue state by the narrowest of margins in 2016, and this time he actually has a record to run on.

Others in the group did not necessarily disagree with a lot of what Harris said during the debate, but they nevertheless did not trust what she or Biden have been saying they’ll do in office.

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

Some in the group thought that Harris outperformed Pence, and convincingly so to the point of boosting Biden’s chances of winning, which has them feeling “scared.”

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

A 15-person focus group of undecided voters headed by pollster Frank Luntz reacted strongly against Harris following the debate, alternately describing her as “abrasive,” “evasive,” and “unpresidential.”

“They gave us three conclusions,” Luntz said of the voters from eight swing states. “The complaint about Kamala Harris was that she was abrasive and condescending.

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

The undecideds were also asked by Luntz for a word or short phrase to describe Harris and her debate performance.

They included “evasive,” “nervous,” “focused on the past,” “shifting blame,” “snarky and sarcastic,” and “unpresidential,” among others.

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Jon Dougherty

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