Undecided Voters Weigh In: "I Honestly Don't Know"
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because while most Americans have made up their minds, these few are still struggling to decide whom to vote for … or even to vote at all.
By Nick Fouriezos
As Election Day draws nearer, both Donald Trump and Joe Biden are running out of time to sway the last voters remaining on the fence — whether it’s Americans choosing between the two or even to vote at all. Last week, OZY interviewed a handful of undecided voters, and this week we ask another group of them how they are thinking about their choices. Here are some of the latest conversations, edited for clarity and space.
Nick Drapeau, 30, banker, Georgia
Past votes: Barack Obama (’08), Mitt Romney (’12), Evan McMullin (’16)
I’m not going to call myself a centrist, I’m definitely conservative-leaning. But I question a lot of the truths that we were handed down. The reason I voted third party in 2016 is Trump just kind of disgusted me. I didn’t like him. I’m not a huge fan of the WWE, The Apprentice, whatever. When he won the nomination, the stuff he was talking about, like building walls, didn’t speak to me. I couldn’t pull the lever for him.
The reason I can’t pull the lever for Biden is all the stuff the Democrats have been doing for three-and-a-half years. I hate being put in the position to defend Trump, but so many of the attacks against him are biased. The whole kids-in-cages things, it was never a problem for Democrats under Obama. Look at the impeachment, the Kavanaugh hearing, the protests that turned into riots that turned into autonomous zones where people got shot. It’s not about telling the truth, it’s about whipping people into a state of frenzy.
I swear to God, if the Democrats dropped their super pro-abortion stance and super gun-control stance, they would win every election from here until kingdom come. Those are the two issues that get people to vote Republican when they wouldn’t otherwise. If the Democrats made a space for pro-lifers or people who are concerned about nonsensical gun control, I could be way more amenable to everything else. I wish Georgia had ranked voting, like in Maine. That way you get people running who are not just people who appeal to a very hard-core minority who are able to shout out the rest. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do.
Michelle O’Neal, 54, office worker, Virginia
Past votes: McCain (’08), Romney (’12), Trump (’16)
I like the Trump economic world that we’ve had the last four years. I don’t like him as a person. I can’t relate to him. I feel like he doesn’t have empathy for people. Biden, I feel like he’s not a real choice, because I don’t feel like he’s going to finish out the next four years. I think he’s going to retire. Kamala Harris is really far left for me. You want someone strong in power, but it’s such a fine line between being strong and being a total asshole bully and making fun of people, that kind of stuff I don’t like.
I don’t think we would have a vaccine this fast with another president. I think Trump’s fast-lined it, broken barriers with the FDA to get it through. I think that takes some strong will to do. I think that Trump was OK until the coronavirus thing, and I think that really damaged his record. Plus, people want to blame it on somebody.
Biden’s a little like, he kind of acts old. He’s uninteresting. Trump, not that I want that kind of interesting, but he’s doing his job. He’s kind of doing what he said he was going to do, even though he’s crushing the whole country as he does it. I’m kind of confused about it. I’m definitely going to vote, so I have to get it straightened out.
Khanh Hoang, 27, field service engineer, Texas
Past votes: Romney (’12), nobody (’16)
I’m undecided on whether to vote or not. I was born in Vietnam, in Ho Chi Minh City, moved to Texas when I was 10 months old. Up until recently, I was an essential worker, servicing the biomedical instruments that are being used to address the pandemic. I don’t watch cable news. I read the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the New York Times sometimes.
I liked Obama. But when I hear the Democrats talk, they say let’s introduce diversity — but it seems like they have a preference: They would prefer Black voters or Hispanic voters but don’t think about other minorities like Asians. I lean Republican because I focus more on economic, rather than social, issues. And yet, when I hear the Republican side, there’s a lack of compassion. When they say tax breaks, I feel like they don’t understand how economics actually works for us.
I think politics needs more unity. Where we come together toward a middle ground, in order to make laws that would be appropriate for the majority of people if not all. My friend tells me that I’m in a country with the privilege to do something people have fought for. But the problem is, I’m not really interested in politics right now. And I think it’s more of a personal thing: I don’t like to pick any side that I don’t like.
Kathy Evans-Palmisano, 65, energy healer, Pennsylvania
Past votes: McCain (’08,) Romney (’12), Trump (’16)
I’m going online and trying to look at how they voted on various issues. I’m very distressed with what Trump has done environmentally. I don’t believe in drilling in the Arctic, don’t want to continue with fracking, don’t think he cares about the environment, endangered species. He’s done some good stuff for trade.
I voted for Trump in 2016 because I thought he should know how to run a business, so he could run the country more like a business, and he didn’t owe anybody anything. I thought he would not be beholden to the lobbyists, the way the other incumbents tend to be. I had really great hopes, and he has not done anything that I’ve been really happy with. But, that being said, I think Biden is an old incompetent. So I don’t really want to vote for either one of them. I really wish we had a multi-party system.
Mark Schmidt, 62, teacher, Oregon
Past votes: Obama (’08, ’12), Clinton (’16)
I’m a revert Catholic, somebody who came back to his faith about five years ago. And so abortion is now by far my most important issue. So it feels like I can’t vote for a Democrat. But Trump is simply horrible, so I can’t vote for him. Originally, my instinct was to just stay home. I’ve been a Democrat my whole life. I’m a union guy, that’s the main reason. I care about the economy. The statistics are clear: “Trickle down” does not work. When was America great? America was most prosperous in the ’50s and what did we have? Very high taxes on rich people.
If Democrats just took abortion out of the platform or didn’t emphasize it so much, it would be easier for me to vote for them. I wouldn’t need them to say we’re going to overturn Roe vs. Wade tomorrow. That would be wonderful, but I’ve gotta face reality. But unfortunately to help deal with something reprehensible and horrible in abortion, I can’t align myself with something evil, which unfortunately is Donald Trump. So it is a dilemma, and I don’t have an answer. I’m leaning toward Biden or not voting at all.