The View From the Middle: 14 Swing Voters on Biden’s First Year

Produced by ‘The Argument’

A year into the Biden administration, most of us can agree on one thing: The United States remains a deeply divided nation, with polarizing opinions on all sides. But what about the voices from the middle, the independents? Swing voters are arguably one of the most consequential groups for the midterm elections, so we wanted to hear from them about how they view President Biden’s first year and the current state of American democracy.

So this month the veteran G.O.P pollster Frank Luntz convened a focus group of 14 self-identified independents and moderates to get their perspectives. And there seems to be a striking theme: They’re exasperated. As Nick from Pennsylvania put it, “We’ve been promised a lot by past politicians, and it just seems that nothing ever changes.”

[You can listen to this episode of “The Argument” on Apple, Spotify or Google or wherever you get your podcasts.]

This week, Luntz debriefs Jane on the group’s findings — namely, that independents are very disappointed and don’t see much hope for either party. His takeaway? “Independents are simple rejecters. They reject both the left and the right. They reject the past president and the current president. And in some ways they’re actually even more negative because they don’t see a way out.”

Mentioned in this episode:

  • “‘The Lowest Point in My Lifetime’: How 14 Independent Voters Feel About America”

  • “Why Republican Voters Think Americans Have to Get Over Jan. 6”

  • “‘We Barely Qualify as a Democracy Anymore’: Democratic Voters Fear for America”

  • Sign up for one of Frank Luntz’s focus groups

(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

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“The Argument” is produced by Phoebe Lett, Elisa Gutierrez and Vishakha Darbha and edited by Anabel Bacon and Alison Bruzek; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair and Mary Marge Locker; music and sound design by Isaac Jones; engineering by Carole Sabouraud; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

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