North Carolina voters express disgust with 2016 campaign

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--These are distressing and frustrating times for undecided voters. With Election Day less than two weeks away, it remains very difficult for many of them to make up their minds between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump, largely because each candidate is disliked so intensely.

All this was vividly clear at a focus group of undecided voters convened by Democratic pollster Peter Hart Tuesday evening in Charlotte. All 12 of the participants said they weren't happy with either major-party candidate. And minor-party candidates were only an afterthought, with only one participant even considering a vote for Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson.

Related: Early voting underway in some states

24 PHOTOS
Early voting underway in some states
See Gallery
Early voting underway in some states
A sign indicating no phones are allowed in ballot booths is displayed as a man casts his ballot during early voting at the San Diego County Elections Office in San Diego, California, U.S., November 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
An attendee holds a sign reading 'Nasty Women Vote' during of a campaign event with Hillary Clinton, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. As the U.S. presidential race heads into its final weekend, Donald Trump is showing strength in Iowa and Ohio pre-Election Day voting, while Clinton's advantage in early balloting looks stronger in North Carolina and Nevada. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A man holds his ballot sleeve as he lines up to vote at an early voting polling centre in Miami, Florida on November 3, 2016. / AFP / RHONA WISE (Photo credit should read RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images)
A line of early voters waits outside the Franklin County Board of Elections, Monday, Nov. 7, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. Heavy turnout has caused long lines as voters take advantage of their last opportunity to vote before election day. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2016 file photo, people vote at a polling station on the first day of early voting in Miami-Dade County for the general election in Miami. Florida voters decide Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, whether Marco Rubio should serve a second term, medical marijuana should be legalized and to pick at least eight new U.S. House members. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
A child watches as a polling worker waves over an early voter to an open booth at the Franklin County Board of Elections, Monday, Nov. 7, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. Heavy turnout has caused long lines as voters take advantage of their last opportunity to vote before election day. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Paul Mosher takes a selfie after voting at the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters, Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, in San Jose , Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
A young boy stretches as he stands next to a woman filling out her ballot during early voting at a polling station inside Truman College on October 31, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. / AFP / Joshua Lott (Photo credit should read JOSHUA LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)
A man walks past the Early Vote Center in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota on October 5, 2016. Voters in Minnesota can submit their ballot for the General Election at locations across the state every day until Election Day on November 8, 2016. / AFP / STEPHEN MATUREN (Photo credit should read STEPHEN MATUREN/AFP/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, ME - OCTOBER 18: Early voters in Portland. Kaila Moore, left, and Justin Chamberlain, both of Portland, seal their ballots after voting early at City Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. (Photo by Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Residents cast ballots for the November 8 election at an early voting site on October 18, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. With three weeks to go until election day, polls show Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton with a lead over GOP rival Donald Trump. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Voters cast ballots as early absentee voting began ahead of the U.S. presidential election in Medina, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk
US President Barack Obama votes early at the Cook County Office Building in Chicago, Illinois, October 7, 2016. Obama cast an early ballot on Friday, highlighting a Democratic drive to get voters to the polls even before November 8. During an unannounced visit, Obama stood before a voting machine at the Chicago Board of Elections office, punched in his choice and smirked when asked who he had voted for. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Poll workers look on as US President Barack Obama (C) gestures towards the press as he votes early at the Cook County Office Building in Chicago, Illinois, October 7, 2016. Obama cast an early ballot on Friday, highlighting a Democratic drive to get voters to the polls even before November 8. During an unannounced visit, Obama stood before a voting machine at the Chicago Board of Elections office, punched in his choice and smirked when asked who he had voted for. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A man registers to vote at the Early Vote Center in northeast Minneapolis, Minnesota on October 5, 2016. Voters in Minnesota can submit their ballot for the General Election at locations across the state every day until Election Day on November 8, 2016. / AFP / STEPHEN MATUREN (Photo credit should read STEPHEN MATUREN/AFP/Getty Images)
Joseph and Maria Caruso vote inside the Early Vote Center in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota after work on October 5, 2016. Voters in Minnesota can submit their ballot for the General Election at locations across the state every day until Election Day on November 8, 2016. / AFP / STEPHEN MATUREN (Photo credit should read STEPHEN MATUREN/AFP/Getty Images)
A bucket of 'I Voted' stickers inside the Early Vote Center in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota on October 5, 2016. Voters in Minnesota can submit their ballot for the General Election at locations across the state every day until Election Day on November 8, 2016. / AFP / STEPHEN MATUREN (Photo credit should read STEPHEN MATUREN/AFP/Getty Images)
A young boy tags along at a voting booth as early voting beings at the Hamilton County Board of Elections, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
James Chambers deposits his vote into a ballot box at the Hamilton County Board of Elections as early voting begins statewide, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
A voter passes a ballot box as she arrives at the Hamilton County Board of Elections as early voting begins statewide, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 23: Signage at an early voting center on September 23, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Minnesota residents can vote in the general election every day until Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 23: Minneapolis resident Robin Marty takes a selfie with an 'I Voted' sign after voting early at the Northeast Early Voting Center on September 23, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Minnesota residents can vote in the general election every day until Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
Laika (last name not given) poses for a portrait with his 'I Voted! Did You?' wrist band after voting early at a polling station inside Truman College on October 31, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. / AFP / Joshua Lott (Photo credit should read JOSHUA LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

The issues most on the participants' minds were potential appointments to the Supreme Court, economic growth and jobs, health care and the threat from terrorism. But issues were not paramount, partly because the participants said the news media were focusing so much on the personal side of the candidates, which these voters said was unfortunate. Yet even though they didn't like the news coverage, the participants seemed most animated by their assessments of the character and values of Trump and Clinton.

Asked by moderator Hart to describe Clinton in a word, they came up with "liar" (repeatedly), "above the law," untrustworthy," and "sleazy." Asked to describe Trump, their responses included "hothead," "egomaniac," "bombastic," "liar," and "businessman" (repeatedly)."

Two of them said the campaign reminded them of a brutal boxing match. One mentioned the original "Rocky" movie starring Sylvester Stallone and the other compared it to the vicious real-life fights between heavyweights Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. A third participant said the campaign reminded him of the Vietnam war, a costly conflict with "no good outcome." Several complained about the descent of the campaign into accusations of sexual improprieties and innuendoes that they were embarrassed to explain to their children.

Katie Burak, 30, a financial planner, said of Clinton, "She's too well-prepared, too well-spoken. I don't see her as a human being. I don't see her as relatable." Donna Ryan, 57, a retired finance director, added: "I don't feel that I know her." But Ryan also had serious problems with Trump. "I'm afraid of him," she said, adding that sometimes "I see a temper tantrum, like a little boy."

SEE ALSO: President Obama to hit the campaign trail hard for Hillary Clinton

Jon Johnson, 35, a welding technician and African-American, said Clinton struck him as "the lesser of two evils," which caused a few other participants to nod their heads in agreement.

Moderator Hart summed up: "They've watched these two candidate very closely" and are reacting very negatively to them. These voters are "tremendously upset with what this campaign is all about," which Hart described as "a campaign of personal destruction."

Related: Swing state election polling

7 PHOTOS
Swing State election polling
See Gallery
Swing State election polling

See how the candidates are polling in swing states

REUTERS/Jim Young

of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


The biggest winner was first lady Michelle Obama. Everyone had high praise for her, and she was described as "classy," "charismatic," "lovely," and "wholesome." Hart said she has emerged as "the moral voice in this election."

The focus group was sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

Most of the latest polls give Clinton an advantage nationally and in most battleground states. But undecided votes could make the differences in many places.

Copyright 2016 U.S. News & World Report

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners