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Trump ‘must win’ Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Ohio for re-election: Frank Luntz

Voters are heading to the polls on election day. Political Pollster Frank Luntz joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: Obviously, pollsters are nervous about repeating what happened in 2016 and being so far off, so let's dig into that issue a little bit more here with Frank Luntz, obviously the famed pollster here with this focus groups, he joins us now. And Frank, I appreciate you coming on here. I know you've been taking a look at those swing voters, ones that may have voted for Clinton back in 2016 and might have been swayed to vote for Trump now in this election cycle. Two key issues seem to be top of mind the economy and Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. So what are you seeing shake out swing voters this time around?

FRANK LUNTZ: It's fascinating to me these remaining undecided voters, and that only represents 4% of the country. And if you apply to those 11 states that could actually vote in either direction, you're talking about 2% of Americans that are going to decide what happens for the 320 million that are in this country right now. And almost to a last one, they don't like Donald Trump's persona, they don't like the tweeting, they don't like the hostility, they don't like the anger, but they appreciate the things that he's trying to do, and in many cases, they approve of his agenda.

Conversely, they like Joe Biden, the person, very much. They feel comfortable with him, they trust him, but they're not sure if they should trust the administration, the policies, the fact that Joe Biden has still never told us whether you will pack the court or eliminate the filibuster, which is important to your listeners and your viewers. So they don't like Trump, but they like his policies. They do like Biden, but they're not sure of his policies, and that's why they've remained undecided. And then the last few days, we've seen a closing in some of these key swing states. And primarily, it's because they're deciding that in the end, the persona is less important than what these presidents aim to do over the next four years.

AKIKO FUJITA: Frank, there's been a lot made about the mail in ballots. We're looking at more than 100 ballots that have been cast, certainly a huge number there. How are you looking at the timing of these results? In particular, Pennsylvania, one that's a lot of people have raised questions about, how quickly those votes can be counted, and when we are likely to see the results of such a crucial state.

FRANK LUNTZ: Well, I'm convinced that will absolutely positively have an answer very quickly, maybe at 10:00 or 11:00 PM on the third of February of 2021.


I just want to make sure you all-- yeah.


Bet you [INAUDIBLE]. Pennsylvania's a mess, and the reason why it's a mess, and they should not be, and we need to nationalize some of these voting rules. I think it's really important that there should be some streamlining and some standardization, because this is a national election. Pennsylvania will not begin club counting those votes until the polls are closed, and Pennsylvania has said that it can now take several days because of postmarks, because you have to have your vote in by tonight at 8:00 PM, I believe. But it can still arrive three, four, six days from now. So I don't think we're going to know the result for Pennsylvania for the next maybe two, three days, quite frankly, and Pennsylvania should be pretty close. It's going to look tonight that Donald Trump has won Pennsylvania, because the people who are voting on the day, those votes are counted first.

But I need to warn viewers that some states don't do it this way. There are a few states that actually release the mail in ballots first, and they only count those votes on Election Day after the mail in ballots have been released. So be very careful. I think we need to be patient. I think we need to not rush these things, that every voice matters, and every vote should count. So I'm urging people, take it easy, take a pill, have a drink, not at the same time, and just assume that we're not going to know who's going to win until tomorrow morning at this time.

ZACK GUZMAN: No, it's a very good point, and it's one that really makes it tough for me to ask the question to you about who you think is going to win this thing, how it's going to shake out what races people should be watching here tonight, because as you said, it's going to take a bit. But obviously, the way to get to 270 is different for each candidate here. Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan looming large for President Trump's re-election chances here. So if you did have to focus in on one of these states as we get early results, which ones are going to be watching, and how have you seen the polls maybe showing what to expect?

FRANK LUNTZ: I'm going to give you four states specifically, and Donald Trump has to win all four, all four of them are within the margin, all four of them had a tremendous turnout even before the election, and they all come in early. So Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio. Donald Trump must win all four of them to be the next to win re-election. If Joe Biden wins any of those four states, then Biden will win the electoral college. If Donald Trump wins all four of those states, we're going to have to wait until Pennsylvania comes in, and that's why I give you those four. They counted ballots early, Republicans cannot win without them, and they have relatively clean election histories, at least over the last 10 years. So that's what I'm going to be tracking.

AKIKO FUJITA: And Frank, when you talk about those undecided voters, those who did wait until today to vote, how significant is the pandemic weighing on them? I mean, you know, I think about the trajectory of how things have played out over the last few weeks, we have seen a huge uptick in infections. Nationwide, we're looking at a record number of infections in one day, just looking at last Friday alone. How do you think that weighs on voters, or do you think voters, even if they were undecided on the actual candidate, have decided it's going to be about the economy, or it's going to be about the pandemic?

FRANK LUNTZ: Well, the number one issue is the pandemic and its impact on the economy and its impact on the health and its impact on policy, on the deficit, on the debt, on all of those. COVID-19 weighs on the minds of voters more than anything else, and in the end, it was a net negative for Donald Trump that people who prioritize COVID-19 overwhelmingly will be voting for Joe Biden based on the work that we're doing. Conversely, those voters who said the economy is the most important, they're voting for Donald Trump, because they think Trump has the advantage on the economy. These issues matter significantly.

But I do want to add the importance of attributes, character traits, because in this presidential race, there is such a difference in the persona between Donald Trump and Joe Biden that for some people, that's actually more important than it really does matter what they think of the candidate, whether they like the candidate and whether they think the candidate likes them. First time I've ever seen that where they care about whether the candidate empathizes with them and understands them. It's really important in the final turnout, in the final election results tonight.