Erie County swing voters taking part in a national focus group are beginning to shift their preference for president.
For the first time since the Erie focus group was formed 16 months ago by the research firms Engagious and the Schlesinger Group, more participants would choose President Donald Trump’s challenger than vote to give Trump a second term.
Seven of the nine Erie County swing voters in the group would choose former Vice President Joe Biden over Trump if the election were tomorrow in the hopes of regaining stability.
The group included six voters who switched from backing President Barack Obama in 2012 to voting for Trump in 2016, and three voters who switched from Mitt Romney in 2012 to Hillary Clinton in 2016.
All three Romney-Clinton voters and four of the six Obama-Trump voters would back Biden.
The four Obama-Trump voters said Biden would bring stability and respect back to the country, that he is experienced, and is the “lesser of two evils.” They also said Trump has “offensive” reactions to events, his Cabinet lies and another four years would leave the United States without any European allies.
The two Obama-Trump voters who would stick with Trump, said the economy and stock market were strong under Trump before the COVID-19 pandemic and that Trump stands a better chance than Biden to restore the economy.
The voters also said Trump waited too long to react to the COVID-19 pandemic.
They gave him negative marks for his response to the death of George Floyd and the national protests that followed. They also believe protesters have made their point and that social justice advocates have gone too far in calling for defunding police.
And even though they are better off financially than they were four years ago, the country is not, they said.
Because of the very small sample size, the results cannot be considered representative of a larger group of voters, including all swing voters.
Previous focus group sessions found majority support for Trump.
In 2016, Erie County was one of 217 counties nationwide that backed Trump after supporting Obama four years earlier.
It was the first time since 1984 that Erie County supported the Republican presidential nominee. Trump also won the state of Pennsylvania, which was key to his Electoral College victory.
Obama won Erie County by a 16-point margin en route to a second term in 2012. Eight of the nine focus group members said they would support Obama if he could run for a third term.
In addition to Erie, Engagious/Schlesinger formed focus groups in Bowling Green, Kent and Canton, Ohio; Sioux City and Davenport, Iowa; Warren and Saginaw, Michigan; Oshkosh and Kenosha, Wisconsin; Ada and Duluth, Minnesota; and Port St. Lucie, Florida.
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