The Observer asked a panel of voters for their online responses to the debate between Libertarian Sean Haugh, Republican N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis, and Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan. Their responses have been edited for length.
Susan Roberts, 60
A Davidson College professor and unaffiliated voter. She was undecided before Thursday’s debate.
Did the debate help you decide? “It did not provide me with any new information that would influence my vote. Sean Haugh’s performance did change my mind as to whether or not he should be included. It is entirely likely that his mantra on the market and other Libertarian stances would have been rote had he been included in other debates.”
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What specific things do you think the candidates did well? What was their worst moment? “Hagan was best on ISIS and minimum wage. She turned perhaps too many questions into answers on the economy. Tillis was best on the stimulus because he was blunt and direct. His worst responses were continuing to question her credibility and in so many words, her integrity. ... For Haugh, his best response was on gay marriage. He was less effective when he said on several occasions that he would rely on experts.”
Bob Harrison, 68
He’s retired, living in Wingate. Harrison is unaffiliated and leaning toward Hagan.
Who won the debate? “No one won this debate. Everyone lost. It was nothing but sound bites and personal attacks and counterattacks. I would rather have seen the format deal with one issue and let the participants get beyond those sound bites and attacks and actually discuss policies that affect us all.”
Is there any specific thing that you wish the candidates had said? “I wish that Sen. Hagan had talked more about the unprecedented gridlock in Congress and what needs to be done to end it. She missed an opportunity to tag Mr. Tillis as being a lightning rod for more intense partisan gridlock.”
A Davidson College student and registered Republican. He plans to vote for Tillis.
Who won the debate? “Thom Tillis. Kay Hagan was on defense all night. She couldn’t explain why she skipped a national security briefing to go to a fundraiser; she couldn’t explain voting with Obama 96 percent of the time; she couldn’t explain funneling taxpayer money to her family through the stimulus package.”
What did you think of the candidates’ responses on gay marriage? “Hagan made it pretty clear that she isn’t interested in what an overwhelming majority of North Carolina voters decided when it comes to gay marriage. She seems to be more interested in allowing President Obama’s liberal activist judges to legislate from the bench.”
Is there any specific thing you wish any of the candidates would have said? “I wish Sen. Hagan would have explained why she thinks voting with President Obama 96 percent of the time is putting North Carolina first. She consistently claims that she is the most moderate senator and has stood up to her party, but her voting record tells a completely different story.”
Levester Flowers, 65
A life insurance agent and registered Democrat. He plans to vote for Hagan.
Did any specific response about an issue surprise you? “No, both candidates responded to questions as expected, based upon their political and philosophical backgrounds.”
Is there any specific thing you wish any candidate had said? “I wish Mr. Tillis would explain how he would approach international terrorism. Mr. Haugh was engaged and knowledgeable on the issues but offered few specific solutions.”
Did the debate change your mind, or fortify your support? “It fortified my intent to vote for Sen. Hagan.”