BROOKFIELD, Wisc. -- Swing voters have heard little in recent weeks to help them make up their minds on who to support in a presidential race that they say flat out stinks.
That was the takeaway from a focus group of a dozen voters who have supported both a Republican and Democratic presidential candidate in the past 16 years. In the discussion, led by pollster Peter Hart on behalf of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, Wisconsinites said they were disgusted with a negative campaign that has left them yearning for a lot more of the issues and a lot less name calling.
“Skunk,” “rotten eggs,” and “garbage” were the scents those in the room associated with the 2016 race.
“I continue to go back and forth because it changes almost on a daily basis...I don’t care what he thinks of Hillary or she thinks of him. I want to know their stances on issues and I want them to explain it in a way that’s respectful,” said Barbara Kass, who is still undecided.
In the group, four were leaning Trump, four Clinton and four remained truly undecided. Only two -- one for Trump and one for Clinton -- said they will be “proud” of their votes.
“If I told you this was March, you’d say: ‘OK, I understand people have lots of questions on a lot of difficult issues.’ But, I mean, these people are on the doorstep of walking into the polling place and you can see what reluctance and hesitation that they have towards these candidates,” Hart said.
Despite Clinton’s lead in the polls, many of these voters say she has a steeper climb than Trump to earn their votes. Respondents said the former secretary of state needs to “take down her mask,” “soften up,” and “be more transparent” to get their support.
Trump, however, needs to talk less, “reign it in,” and stop being a “loudmouth.”
The suggestions were simple enough, yet few think he can pull it off. Of the dozen, 11 said they think Clinton will win.
“I think Trump, the way he portrays himself, he can change the way he comes off...For Hillary, I know what she’s done so that’s why that can’t be changed,” said Sheri LaValley, who supported John Kerry and President Obama in both 2008 and 2012 but is leaning towards Trump.
The worst stereotypes of each candidate have been etched into voters minds. When asked to compare Clinton to a zoo animal, multiple members of the group said a snake. “She’s willing to slither through the political arena,” said Steve Watson, a Trump supporter.
Another compared her to a giraffe because she “looks down on you.”
The Republican presidential nominee drew comparisons to big cats because of his “big roar” and said others said his hair resembled a lion's mane.
And for both candidates, voters seemed to be yearning for the candidate they are leaning towards to be just a little better.
“He could do a lot of great things but he is just a wild cannon,” Kass said of Trump.
“You can’t trust her. The trust to know between right and wrong, and integrity. I don’t think that she has that, and it’s a shame,” said Beth Jones, who voted for Obama twice and President George W. Bush twice.