What Are Undecided Voters Thinking?
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because they could determine the fates of Donald Trump and Joe Biden in 2020.
By Nick Fouriezos
It has been a particularly turbulent four years in U.S. politics, and it’s hard for many politically active Americans to imagine how anyone could emerge without having staked out a side. Yet a month before Election Day, there are still some registered voters who haven’t made up their minds — anywhere between 3 and 11 percent, depending on which poll you reference. They have their reasons, from competing values to political apathy to visceral disgust with the options they have been presented. And in swing states across the country, those last-minute decisions between Democrat Joe Biden and Republican President Donald Trump, or whether to vote at all, will shape the election.
With that in mind, OZY interviewed a handful of undecideds, asking them about the issues and factors that were shaping their final weeks of deliberation. Here are some of those conversations, edited for clarity and space.
Shane Lynch, 31, auto maintenance specialist, Florida
Past votes: Barack Obama (’08, ’12), Gary Johnson (’16)
I was never really interested in politics and now I’ve got a young family, so I’m pretty dang busy. I openly admit that I am not very educated on things like foreign policy, stuff like that. I would absolutely never vote for Donald Trump. He’s just an asshole and all he cares about is himself. But it’s hard for me to vote for Biden, because I am a Second Amendment guy. Not in the crazy, right-wing, “don’t take away my guns” way, but I want to be able to access whatever the bad guys who could hurt my family have, and I don’t want to be a criminal for that.
And so my decision is really between voting for Biden or for Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen. Obviously she’s not going to win, but if she can get 5 percent of the vote, then there’s a chance she gets on the debate stage next time. [Editor’s Note: Jorgensen’s party would also qualify for public funding in the 2024 election cycle.] I don’t know that I would feel bad [voting for Jorgensen] if it was a close election, and my vote could have helped Biden or Trump. Especially in an election like this, where so many people are wondering how did we get here — how did we get these two candidates? — I would reach my goal if they actually got that chance. If [Jorgensen] actually had the chance, what could happen?
Linda Szymanski, entrepreneur, Ohio
Past votes: Trump (’16)
This year, I’m in a quandary and my husband is voting for Biden. Not because he is a liberal, but he is sick of Trump’s antics and quite frankly so am I. But I am not a liberal/socialist. I cannot support that — it is the way of fools. Can Trump save us? I honestly think he has drunk a little too much of the Twitter/celebrity Kool-Aid himself, and whomever awarded him a college degree needs to give that some second thoughts. Coming out swinging Tuesday in the debate was totally predictable — Trump only has one mode: bully and intimidation. It was completely embarrassing and every single person I know — right or left — agreed.
Who should I vote for? I have absolutely no idea! Both candidates are highly flawed and/or inappropriate — and I object loudly to having no real choices to save my country. Both of these candidates are owned — lock, stock and barrel — by the big money in this country. This is exactly where we need a viable third party/independent, owing to no one but the American people. We need to set term limits and limits on spending.
I have been an active and committed Republican all my life. Probably no surprise. But I have learned that to examine both points of view carefully affords anyone an opportunity to learn what is important to both political philosophies and why. Assumptions and a myopic “I’m always right” point of view accomplish nothing. There can be no learning in that situation. There is a famous line from a movie: “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” And fail we have in an era with extreme numbers of ways to convey our feelings.
Revelation Walker, 43, executive assistant, Georgia
Past votes: Obama (’08, ’12), Hillary Clinton (’16)
Trump is destroying everything that makes America America. As an immigrant from Nigeria and seeing how our leaders have systematically destroyed the nation, that is what is happening in America today. I don’t believe Trump has COVID. I think it’s a lie; I think it’s a stunt. I don’t even trust his hair. I don’t want Trump to die. Why? Because if he does, they will say that’s the only reason Biden won. I want him to lose on Nov. 3 and die on Nov. 4.
I am not going to vote for Trump. That is for sure.
I’m going to vote. That is not a question. I’m going to vote. I just wish the Democrats had not picked Biden. Biden, to me, is like a freaking wall paint that’s drying — boring as shit. Kamala Harris, I believe, can light a fire, but I don’t think the males in America will give her a chance. I’m looking at all the people and they’re not really putting themselves out there. If you ask me who I am voting for right now, I’ll say Kamala Harris.
Stephen Kent, 30, media booker, North Carolina
Past votes: Obama (’08), Mitt Romney (’12), Evan McMullin (’16)
My No. 1 policy issue, since I got interested in politics, has been criminal justice reform. Regarding culture, I’m very motivated and concerned this year about democratic norms and civility within our government. It’s between Biden and my conscience, which makes me consider voting third party. I don’t believe Biden is a radical Democratic socialist. I’m very optimistic for what Biden could mean for reminding people that Democrats and Republicans don’t have to always be complete polar opposites. I respect that, because that’s how politics should work. It shouldn’t just be total war.
But Biden made it really hard for me with his VP pick. Kamala Harris is a total fraud when it comes to the issue of law and order, and policing — I think she is a “lock ’em up and throw away the key” kind of politician. I definitely buy the concern out there that Biden is not aging well. I just don’t see him being in control of the vehicle of the executive branch, and I distrust Harris. Still, I want to vote for Biden because this is about so much bigger-picture stuff than tax rates. We’ve got one guy who is not going to accept the results of the election and is calling on militia groups to stand by in case they are needed and to litigate the results. We’re headed toward a really dark place. At the end of the day, I feel this is what we are voting for: “Do we want a union or not? Do we want to trust our elections or not?”
Achintya Kolipakkam, content marketer, California
Past votes: Did not answer.
I am really confused [about voting] for any of the candidates because of one primary reason: The basic American system believes in separation of powers. It has to have levels and branches in order to confirm justices and righteousness. The ruling party, the presidency and the judiciary have to have separate identities, and I do not see any presidential candidate taking this seriously. Right now, everything is politically connected. There is no independence, and all of them are rooting for crass political agendas.
Robin Selleys, 62, Arizona
Past votes: Obama (’08, ’12), Trump (’16)
It would be nice to actually get the truth from one of them. What I would like to see change is kind of a reverse of what has happened. We were not as racially ignited until Obama and Trump threw it out there. I’d like to see someone get into office that is really going to care for the people and not their pockets.
In 2016, I gave Trump a shot. I thought he could actually make a difference considering he did know all these people and he had been more diverse and he pretty much spoke his mind. Now, yeah, that’s totally bit us in the ass. I can’t say everything is his fault, that would be stupid. He has done a few things. He’s actually made people look at veterans more. He’s made people look at the ability of the American people to do something for ourselves instead of going to all these other countries for stuff. But he hasn’t followed through with them opening jobs again, factories again, getting people to buy American instead of Chinese, Taiwan, Indian, whatever.
Biden says all the right things, but I don’t see in his past where he’s actually followed through with what he’s said. He’s had a lot of good ideas and it sounds good, but when he gets so far and he gets disinterested, he drops the ball and moves on to something else. Unfortunately, America and the American people are a little tired of being thought of second. I don’t mind helping other countries, but we need to help ourselves first.