Sen. Kamala Harris during Wednesday's vice presidential debate. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Several Michigan voters who are sticking with President Trump think that if Joe Biden gets elected, Sen. Kamala Harris will be running the show — and her Wednesday debate performance reinforced their view.

Why it matters: These are some of the few voters for whom the vice-presidential pick has outsized importance in how they view the two tickets, and for now that's benefitting Trump.

This was the biggest takeaway from our special post-vice presidential debate Engagious/Schlesinger focus group with 13 voters who chose Barack Obama in 2012 but Trump in 2016.

  • Two of them will vote for Biden, both because of the coronavirus pandemic and the economy.
  • While a focus group is not a statistically significant sample like a poll, the responses show how some voters are thinking and talking about the 2020 election in crucial states.
  • Biden leads Trump by about 6 percentage points in Michigan in the RealClearPolitics polling average.

What they’re saying: “Biden’s not going to make it four years, so Kamala Harris is going to be president and I have zero trust she can be president, so I’m just picking the lesser of two evils at this point,” said Shelley D. Everyone else in the group agreed.

  • And while some even liked what Harris had to say at the debate, they remain skeptical of change. “I’m going to have to stick with [Trump] because I don't know if the Left will make due on the promises they’re saying right now,” said Adam M.
  • Others described feeling “scared” because Harris “actually did a better job than Pence,” as one participant put it.

Between the lines: These voters thought Harris did too well at the debate, with many saying they’re now fearful she’ll boost Biden’s chances to win because of how she connects with the American people.

  • “I’m fearful of this woman because she knows how to strike chords with the people of America,” said Matt T. “She’s basically utilizing everything that has happened this year to attack the Trump campaign and she does it in such a way that she’s making really strong points, but I don’t think they’re true. So she’s coming across very powerful.”
  • Some mocked her hand gestures, but most thought she appeared more prepared for the debate than Pence.
  • Several Trump voters described Pence’s debate performance as lacking “energy” and “emotion,” and they were largely frustrated that he didn’t answer most of the questions asked.
  • Guy D., who’s voting to re-elect President Trump, said he felt “a little disappointed” watching Pence Wednesday night “because it seemed like he didn’t get to the point.”

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What Matters 2020

The missed opportunities for 2020 and beyond

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Jason Armond (Los Angeles Times), Noam Galai, Jabin Botsford (The Washington Post), Alex Wong/Getty Images

As the 2020 presidential campaign draws to a close, President Trump and Joe Biden have focused little on some of the most sweeping trends that will outlive the fights of the moment.

Why it matters: Both have engaged on some issues, like climate change and China, on their own terms, and Biden has addressed themes like economic inequality that work to his advantage. But others have gone largely unmentioned — a missed opportunity to address big shifts that are changing the country.

Harvard Youth Poll: 2020 young voter turnout could approach 2008 totals

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A national poll conducted by the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School found historic interest among 18-to-29 year olds in the upcoming election, which could potentially lead to a massive voter turnout among age group.

Why it matters: With just over a week until Election Day, 63% of the poll's respondents indicated they will “definitely be voting,” which is the highest proportion of respondents in the twenty years the poll has been conducted. These young voters are motivated by a number of social issues.

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Pence no longer expected at Amy Coney Barrett's final confirmation vote

Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence no longer plans to attend the Senate's final confirmation vote for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a Pence aide confirmed to CNN and Politico on Monday. On Sunday, Senate Democrats claimed that his presence after possible exposure to the coronavirus would be a "violation of common decency."

Driving the news: Five of Pence's aides were recently diagnosed with COVID-19, including his chief of staff, who is currently quarantining. Pence has continued his campaign travel despite his possible exposure, which goes against CDC guidelines.