The Observer asked a panel of voters for their online responses to the debate between Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis. Some of their responses have been edited for length. Jim Morrill and Jen Rothacker
Ray McKinnon, 33
A minister and a Democrat. He plans to vote for Hagan.
What struck you? “That Speaker Tillis spent the time talking about what Sen. Hagan and President Obama aren’t doing or should do regarding the Islamic State, but failed to answer if he would put ‘boots on the ground.’ ... No specifics on ISIS. No specifics on education. No specifics on health care.”
Laurie Porter, 47
The Johnson C. Smith professor, a Republican, went into the debate undecided.
Did the debate help you decide? “Yes. (Because of) the emphasis on the economy by Tillis.”
What struck you? “Kay Hagan stressed being moderate while Tillis referred back to the 96 percent Obama alliance. The two can’t match when the public understands that Obama is not moderate or in the dead (political)center.”
What could they have talked about more? “I wanted Hagan to express the urgency of improving our economy while also hitting straightforward the failures of Obamacare.”
Did they address issues important to you? “The economy overrides all issues. Health care reform is a ‘disaster’ … Personally, Hagan is compassionate and intelligent yet we are reminded that we are living in a broken system that she is not able to step aside from the rhetoric.”
Becky White, 58
A paralegal, she’s unaffiliated and supports Hagan.
Did the debate change your mind? No. “I think that Tillis and Hagan are such polar opposites that almost no one could be swayed to vote for the other candidate.”
What struck you? “Tillis did not directly answer most questions. He tried to scare people with terrorists and Ebola. … I also got tired of hearing what the other had done instead of what each could do to implement positive changes.”
Ellen Martin, 60
Unaffiliated college counselor who plans to vote for Hagan.
What did you think of the answers on gay marriage? “The court decisions have supported gay marriage, yet Tillis is willing to spend a lot of money to hire private attorneys to fight this losing battle against gay marriage. For a man who says he wants to cut spending and waste, these actions are hypocritical!”
Evan Freeman, 27
A Libertarian, he’s an international import manager who supports Hagan.
Did they talk about things you care about? “I was surprised to see Tillis agree with some of the principles of the (health care act) like providing healthcare to those under 26 and with pre-existing conditions. Unfortunately they have different ways to fix what is a glaring legislative issue. Tillis wants a repeal/new laws and Hagan wants to fix and/or ignore the problems.”
What about immigration? “Hagan was weak on securing the border. She didn’t offer anything specific, just a comprehensive solution. It seems like normal D.C. pre-election politicking.”
Dennis Peterson, 45
The business analyst is a Republican tea party activist. Plans to vote for another candidate.
What struck you? “Both of them repeated the talking points fed to them by their campaign consultants. Neither one of them connected with regular people by appearing to genuinely understand and care about issues that affect North Carolina families on a daily basis.
What about their responses on gay marriage? “I’m constantly displeased by all politicians’ responses on the subject. Why are we fighting over this issue and demanding the other side to submit to the opposite point of view while we are witnessing the fiscal destruction of our children’s future?”