The Slatest

Words Voters Used to Describe Trump’s Debate Performance: “Crackhead,” “Un-American,” “Unhinged”

Screenshot of Zoom window with people in a videoconference
The digital focus group conducted by GOP pollster Frank Luntz following Tuesday’s presidential debate. Screenshot/YouTube

There will be many, many real polls and opinions about what happened Tuesday night when, for the first time, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden shared the same stage. But for now, let’s enjoy the responses of veteran GOP pollster Frank Luntz’s Zoom focus group of 15 undecided voters in swing states. Immediately after the debate came to a close, Luntz sprung to action conducting digitally (this year) what is normally done in a blank room in a business park somewhere in the suburbs of an anodyne American city.


By Luntz’s count, the most [insert adjective] debate in American history left nine (nine!) focus group participants still undecided. One who did not remain undecided was nouveau American icon “Ruthie from Pennsylvania,” who unleashed a real corker of the internet age, describing Trump’s debate performance as trying to “win an argument with a crackhead.” When the rest of the undecideds—nine of which were men and six women—were asked to use actual words to describe the two candidates and their performance Tuesday night, this is what they had to say (via Politico):

Despite their indecisiveness, most described Trump in a negative light, including one of the participants who was leaning toward voting for the president. The voters characterized Trump as “unhinged,” “arrogant,” “forceful,” a “bully,” “chaotic” and “un-American.”

When asked to describe Biden they offered: “better than expected,” “politician,” “compassion,” “coherent,” and a “nice guy lacking vision.”

“Coherent”! “Nice guy lacking vision”! Not exactly a slam-dunk endorsement, but better than the alternative. Slap it on a bumper sticker and let’s get voting!