Here’s what voters had to say following the first 2024 debate showdown between Joe Biden and Donald Trump | CNN Politics (2024)

Here’s what voters had to say following the first 2024 debate showdown between Joe Biden and Donald Trump | CNN Politics (1)

Former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden debate at CNN's Atlanta studios on June 27, 2024.

Atlanta CNN

LarryMalinconicowent to bed worried about President Joe Biden’s debate performance.He woke up thinkinghe should do something about it.

Malinconico isan independentand acollege geology professor in NorthamptonCounty, Pennsylvania, a bellwether area in one of the nation’s mostcompetitive presidential battlegrounds.

“I’m extremelyconcerned,” Malinconico said just after theCNN debate Thursday night. “President Biden performed poorly, His voice was weak. He stumbled and had difficulty staying on track with his answers.”

Still, hecannot fathom the alternative and ended his debate night take with this: “Despite my significantconcerns about Biden’scapabilities,I will still vote against Trump.”

Former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden debate at CNN's Atlanta studios on June 27, 2024. Will Lanzoni/CNN Related article What would happen if Biden decided to leave the race?

But early Friday afternoon, Malinconico reached out to add this: “After sleeping on the debate overnight … now I’m much more in favor of supporting moves to have President Biden drop out or for an open (brokered perhaps)convention.”

It was one of a flood of voter reactions highlycritical of the president’s debate performance, and one of several suggesting the debate, at least in the short term, damaged the incumbent’s standing with voterscritical to his reelection hopes.

Pat Levin is anotherNorthamptonCounty resident. The 94-year-old told us when we first met a few months ago that she was not worried about Biden’s age. She is still planning to vote Biden, but her reaction was also quite telling.

Levin had nice things to say about Vice President Kamala Harris andCalifornia Gov. Gavin Newsom, praising their interviews after the debate. “Nothing good to say,” though, about Biden – and the overall substance of theCNN Presidential Debate.

“Biden whispered, spoke haltingly and appeared exceedingly vulnerable,” Levin, toldCNN in a text message. “It was a sad night for American politics.”

Michael Pesce, a self-described Reagan Republican who says hecannot support Trump, offered a similar take.

“Last night was a horror show,” Pesce said Friday. “Biden looked old and doddering and not at all presidential. Trump was angry and bombasticand unable to say anything truthful.”

Pesce told us in May he would reluctantly vote for Biden because he sees Trump as unfit for the presidency. His morning after debate take was telling – and, again, troublesome for Biden.

“The Democrats need to have an openconvention and rally behind a much youngercandidate,” Pesce said.

Pesce, 60, lives in BucksCounty in thePhiladelphiasuburbs, and like Northampton, is a battleground within the battleground.

Malinconico, Levin and Pesce are participating in aCNN project designed to track the 2024campaign through the eyes and experiences of voters who live in the battlegrounds and are part ofcritical voting blocs.

There are 60 voters participating so far, across 10 states, and they are diverse in every way. But the overwhelmingconsensus after the debate, from Democrats and Republicans alike, was that Biden’s showing was alarming.

“I’m really scared that if Biden stays on the ticket, Trump is going to win,” said Davette Baker, an African American and longtime Democraticorganizer in Milwaukee.

And while strong Trump supporters were happy with his performance, the former president, too, faced some harshcriticism from many of our voters, evenRepublicans.

“Same old Donald, talked about himself,” said Matt Vrahiotes, aChristianconservative who owns a small winery in HallCounty, Georgia. “Stroked his ego.”

Still,Vrahiotes said Trump “seems to be morecognitive and mentally sharper.” When we firstmet, Vrahiotes said he wouldconsider a third party option, and his after the debate take reflected hiscontinued despair at the major partychoices.

“Why not allow Kennedy on stage,” he said of independentcandidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who failed to meet theCNN debatecriteria.

Four big takeaways from our voters:

–– Those already unhappy with theirchoicescame away from the debate even more sour about a Biden-Trump rematch.

“I hate that Trump talks down about America,’” said Antonio Munoz, a veteran who owns a Las Vegas restaurant andcatering business. “I’m not motivated to vote. Biden’sclosing was weak.”

–– Younger voters who align with Biden on many issues but feel littleconnection with him because of his age were taken aback by his performance.

“I was genuinely shocked,” saidChristine Ngyuen, 29, a former nurse who recently opened a Boba tea house in the Atlanta suburb of Decatur.

“Both of ourcandidates are far too old to be doing what they are doing,” said Summer Matkin, a student at Wayne State University who lives in the Detroit suburbs.

Committed Democrats who plan to vote for Biden regardless of his performance still voiced exasperation because the debate reinforced their worries Trumpcould win the election.

“It felt like he let Trump drive a dangerously false narrative andcould do nothing more than say, ‘That’s a lie’ without fully establishing the truth strongly,” said Anushka Jalistagi, a recent University of Michigan graduate and formerco-president of thecampusCollegeDemocrats.

Trump supporters approved of his debate performance but there was no evidence in our group that he gained support.

“Sad. We don’t have the sharpest tacks in the box to vote for,” said KimCavaliere, a nurse in suburban Atlanta who is undecided and unhappy with herchoices. “I bet othercountries are laughing at us. I was.”

Ibrahim Ghazal, a Palestinian-American law student from the Detroit area, is angry with Biden over the Hamas-Israelconflict and leaning against voting for him again. But he had a dim view of Trump before the debate, and a dimmer one after.

“Trump had much better stage presence than Biden,” Ghazal said in a text Friday. “What was most disturbing to me was that Trump used the word ‘Palestinian’ as a slur.”

This was Trump during an exchange about the Hamas-Israelconflict: “You should let them go and let them finish the job. He doesn’t want to do it. He has become like a Palestinian. But, they don’t like him because he is a very bad Palestinian. He is a weak one.”

Linda Rooney, a registered Republican who lives justoutside of Philadelphia,voted for Biden in 2020 but said this year she would either “hold my nose” and vote for Trump or write in aconservative. There are 18 weeks left in thecampaign, but Trump’s debate showingdid not win acommitment from Rooney.

“Last night’s debate was a disaster for Biden but what scares me more is that the Republicanscan’t say they have a goodcandidate either,” she said. “How did my party get to the point where the only way we may win the presidency again is because we are up against someone who is feeble and not well? … Republicans should not be takinga victory lap.”

Here’s what voters had to say following the first 2024 debate showdown between Joe Biden and Donald Trump | CNN Politics (2024)


How many people watched the CNN debate in 2024? ›

51 million viewers tuned in to CNN's presidential debate with Biden and Trump. Guests at the Old Town Pour House watch the debate between President Joe Biden and presumptive Republican nominee former President Donald Trump on June 27, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois.

What happened when Joe Biden was elected? ›

On the first day of his presidency, Biden made an effort to revert Trump's energy policy by restoring U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement and revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. However, just weeks before this, he lifted sanctions on a company building a gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.

How many people viewed the 2024 presidential debate? ›

How ratings for first presidential debate of 2024 compare with past debates. The much-anticipated debate on Thursday night between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump drew an estimated 51.27 million viewers to the CNN presentation, Nielsen and CNN reported on Friday.

What good things has Biden done? ›

Top Accomplishments
  • Lowering Costs of Families' Everyday Expenses.
  • More People Are Working Than At Any Point in American History.
  • Making More in America.
  • Rescued the Economy and Changed the Course of the Pandemic.
  • Rebuilding our Infrastructure.
  • Historic Expansion of Benefits and Services for Toxic Exposed Veterans.

How much is Trump worth? ›

Who is the oldest president? ›

President Joe Biden is the oldest U.S. president to date. The question of age has loomed heavily for Biden and remains a major point of contention in his 2024 presidential run. Biden will be 81 when voters cast their ballots in November, but by the next Inauguration Day in January 2025, he'll be 82 years old.

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