October 1, 2020

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Online Sentiment Tracker Shows Statistically Significant Number of Rural Voters in Key States Shifted Toward Biden After “Belligerent” Debate Performance

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the One Country Fund (OCF) released a social media listening report that analyzed more than 80,000 comments made by internet users in rural IA, MI, MN, NH, PA, and WI counties regarding the first 2020 Presidential Debate. The analysis showed a significant number of individuals expressed disdain for President Trump’s lack of decorum, describing him as “belligerent,” “angry,” and “unhinged,” and voiced support for Biden.

“President Trump’s debate performance was just like his presidency – full of chaos, confusion, and anger with nothing to show for it,” said OCF co-founder Heidi Heitkamp. “This report shows that President Trump’s embarrassing act and generally chaotic behavior is turning enough of rural America off to have serious consequences for the outcome of this election. The contrast between his shameful performance and Vice President Biden’s presidential presence clearly struck a chord with rural voters and is moving more of them in his direction.”

OCF observed social media traffic in rural parts of IA, MI, MN, NH, PA, and WI from September 29 to September 30 and identified several key insights:

  • Instead of spurring discussion about policy wins or hope for the future, Trump’s “belligerent” and “angry” performance was the dominant theme of the online discussion in rural states.
  • Trump’s rallying of the Proud Boys to “stand by” and refusal to condemn white supremacists drew a widespread negative reaction.
  • A small but statistically significant number of this key rural electorate stated they were going to vote for Biden after watching the debate and gave the Vice President marks for staying calm and presidential.
  • Overall, social sentiment toward Biden was 34% negative, 32% positive, and 34% neutral, compared to Trump with 50% negative, 18% positive, and 32% neutral.
  • Even Trump’s defenders did not necessarily tout his performance, with a substantial portion of commenters (26%) focusing on charges of moderator bias instead of praising the president. Within pro-Biden commentary, 13% expressed the belief that Biden won the debate, compared to only 4% of Trump supporters claiming he won.

View the report here.

About One Country Fund

One Country Fund fights to elect champions for rural America. By talking to rural voters and holding President Trump and his collaborators accountable, it provides a Democratic alternative to failed Republican leadership in 2020 and beyond. Learn more at

Posted on October 1, 2020 in Press Releases.