A trio of first-time presidential voters said the final debate before Election Day was largely underwhelming — and the candidates didn’t pull any of them across party lines.
“I feel like every other election I’ve watched throughout my life, with my parents and such, it was a lot more respectful,” Maggie Zawatski, 22, of Brooklyn, said of the 90-minute showdown between President Trump and Joe Biden at Belmont University in Nashville.
“It’s just drama, and it’s petty — it’s like how I fought with my friends in high school.”
“They were both just going back and forth — a lot of disagreement,” said Zawatski, adding that the debate did not sway her from her intention to vote for Biden.
“I’m actually going to say Biden won, though I didn’t think it was his best performance,” she said.
“I feel like on some issues he wasn’t good at getting his point across. People looking for that confident leader, that could have been a turn-off for them.”
For undecided registered Republican Brian Suga, 23, the debate left him leaning more solidly toward Trump.
“Biden seemed to dance around the questions more than Trump did,” he said. “It never really felt like Biden gave me something I could work with,” he said.
Trump, meanwhile, “Seemed to be able to really control himself. It shows that he can have self-control” when he chooses to, he said.
But Suga, too, noted that the two candidates hardly seem capable of agreeing on which color tie the other was wearing.
“They were both just going back and forth — with a lot of disagreement,” he said.
With Trump insisting the pandemic “is going away,” and Biden bemoaning the 200,000 more Americans he said are on the brink of death, it seemed as if the two candidates were living in opposite realities, Suga said.
The candidates also offered polarized views on climate change — with Trump touting the cleanliness of America’s air and water, and Biden urging a steady retreat from all fossil fuels.
When Hunter Biden’s emails came up — with Trump urging the vice president to come clean — Biden brushed the accusations off as if they were fictions not worth even discussing, said Suga.
“I want Biden to talk about these allegations,” he said. “I really would have liked to see at least an answer, a response, that was more than just ‘That’s not true.’”
Still, despite the divide between the candidates — and the rancor — this debate was far more civilized, noted all three first-timers.
“There was much less shouting this time,” than with the first presidential match-up, noted Suga, crediting the moderator, NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker, and a new rule that gave each candidate two minutes to speak on each of the night’s six topics — with their opponent muted.
“This debate was night and day compared to the last debate — much calmer,” agreed Trump supporter Efraim Abrams, 19, of West Hempstead.
“I think the American public really won,” he said. “And I think Trump was really able to prove that he should be the next president of the United States,” added Abrams, who said the debate did not change his mind — and that his first presidential vote will be for four more years.
“Biden lost some major states tonight in my opinion,” he said, noting the former veep’s assertion during the debate that as president, he will move the country away from fossil fuels.
“Like Texas, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Ohio. These are major states that are heavily dependent on oil. You can’t win in the electoral college is you keep telling people you’re going to get rid of the oil industry.”