Voters say they are concerned about Biden after debate

  • Author, Ana Faguy
  • Role, BBC News, Washington

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump faced off Thursday night in the first presidential debate of the 2024 election cycle.

Voters across the country have expressed concern about the candidates’ ages — Mr. Biden is 81 and Trump is 78 — and the debate exacerbated that anxiety.

Yet with just weeks to go until the conventions where each party will formalize its choice of candidate, supporters of both major parties believe they have few options left.

The BBC spoke to Democratic, Republican and independent voters who told us they had concerns about Mr Biden’s suitability for the ticket.

After Thursday’s debate, we asked them whether his widely criticized performance would influence their vote. We begin with a voter who feels she has no choice but to support the president.

The longtime Democrat found the debate so difficult to watch that she could barely keep the show going. But regardless of how the candidates perform, she plans to vote blue in November.

I haven’t watched everything.

I couldn’t stand it, is this the best our country can do? If Hillary had come out in her pantsuit, I would have been extremely happy.

I absolutely despise Trump and everything he stands for: his lies, his cheating, and his lack of morality.

Biden is a much better human being, but I felt so bad for him (in the debate) and it was such a disappointment.

I was thinking State of the Union “Jacked up Joe”. No, what we got was everything that everyone said was bad about him came out on stage.

I feel bad for him and for America, but we just have to get through this.

Honestly, the debate has really disengaged me. I feel like I can’t do anything but vote blue, whatever that is.

Dominic identifies as a Libertarian and voted third party in 2016 and 2020, but this time he is fully supporting the former president.

I am a Trump fan and will vote for him enthusiastically.

Going into this debate, I thought the Republicans were setting themselves up for failure. I’m actually surprised Biden did as poorly as he did, I thought he would do better.

I was moderately pleased with Trump. I thought he seemed much more presidential, especially compared to last time’s debates.

He was really negative last time. I think he found the perfect tone (during the debate).

The Trump you saw on stage was very different from the one you saw in 2016. The Trump of 2016 would have taken much lower-end shots at Biden’s age.

Biden seemed very defeated in his body language. I think Trump seemed very presidential in the way he handled Biden’s age.

I will enthusiastically vote for Trump at this point and I did not vote for him in 2016 or 2020.

[Dominic texted a few minutes later]

In 2016, I could almost have been considered a Never Trumper. My opinion of him has completely changed.

Connor is a Democrat who voted for Biden in 2020. He plans to do the same in 2024, but is concerned about the president’s age.

I’m nervous about a second Biden term.

There is no doubt in my mind that the people around Biden are competent and have the ability to meet the needs of the executive branch. There is also no doubt in my mind that Biden has this country’s best interests at heart.

That being said, I am less confident than ever in Biden’s ability to lead this country.

The Biden administration’s efforts on infrastructure, rallying our allies, pardoning marijuana offenders, investing in clean energy and future technologies, and lowering prescription drug prices are all monumental actions. I think this first term has been pretty successful, which is why it pains me to say that Biden may not be the best figurehead for these policies or this moment.

I don’t think any of this will convince me to vote for Trump.

I simply couldn’t support a candidate who had dramatically reduced his confidence in our electoral system while all of his own advisors were telling him he was wrong.

Or a candidate who clearly lacks moral character due to his extramarital affairs which have now been accepted as fact by a court of law and a myriad of other scandals. Or a candidate who allows the worst kind of hatred and politics into every facet of our society and government. Or a candidate I’ve never heard speak intelligently or in depth on any subject.

Crystal is an ardent Trump supporter who has voted for the former president twice before and will do so again in November.

Trump looked very balanced and presidential and Biden looked very weak.

I really didn’t think it would be a good idea for Biden to do this debate. In fact, he didn’t seem mentally healthy to me. He came across as really weak and feeble.

It was painful to watch 90 minutes of this debate between Biden and Trump.

The fentanyl crisis, border security, and of course the economy are my top three concerns, and I didn’t feel like Biden addressed those issues at all.

I am against abortion and against the abortion pill like Trump. I like that he is pro-life and I like that he sides with conservative Christian values.

I think this country respects him and after this debate, I really think he will win.

This debate is solidified by the fact that he can and will win.

Shana is considering supporting Biden in the upcoming election, but is not happy with the current situation in the country.

I was very frustrated watching the debate. I feel like the answers they were giving weren’t really answers to any of the questions. It was exhausting to watch.

I don’t think either of them performed better than the other. Mr. Biden looked tired, he looked weak. Even though he had a cold and he had good things to say, he didn’t come through and he wasn’t understandable. It reminds me of how Kennedy beat Nixon in the first televised debate by looking healthier.

Trump was aggressive and took risks. Even though he seemed physically stronger, I don’t think he did well in content.

I think I’m still going to vote for Mr. Biden because I don’t want Mr. Trump in office. I would love for both parties to reconsider their candidates. I know that idea is floating around right now, it would be better for us.

Before Biden announced his re-election bid, I was hoping he would step aside so someone else would come forward. But I would rather have a Democrat in office than Mr. Trump.

Eric is an independent voter who voted for a third party in 2020, but has not yet decided what he will do in November.

Trump is a lying old psychopath who is only fleeing to avoid prison and will say literally anything he can to protect himself.

Biden is old, weak and out of touch with his constituency.

Personally, I think President Biden is doing a better job of listening to different points of view. This told me that when the moderators asked questions, Trump would talk about the topics he wanted to talk about.

I’m undecided at this point, I’ll wait and see what happens. A lot could change between now and November.

Personally, I don’t see a compelling reason to vote for either person up there, but I do see compelling reasons to vote against the people up there.

I would like to see a candidate that I can vote for, rather than vote against someone. I want someone who is more interested in doing their job than getting re-elected.

Neither Trump nor Biden are young. I don’t know if any of them can be president for up to four years.

The fact that they were both arguing about their golf game tells me that they are more interested in something other than running a country.

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