Here are the election issues making battleground state voters' hearts race - literally

Taking the pulse of Michigan voters
Taking the pulse of Michigan voters 03:26

As election season comes to a close each cycle, journalists take to the streets to measure the so-called "pulse of the voters" to try and paint a preliminary picture of Election Day results. 

With less than a month until the contentious 2020 election, "CBS This Morning" co-host Tony Dokoupil took it literally — asking Republicans and Democrats in Michigan's Macomb County about the issues they care about most, and measuring their body's physical response. 

"Donald Trump says he saved the auto industry," Dokoupil told one battleground state voter.

"That's not true, that's not true," the voter replied. "You have several plants that have closed, under his administration."

According to an oximeter placed on the man's finger, his pulse shot up to 105 — a heated reaction to the president's claims.

To gauge voters' feelings towards a variety of key issues, Dokoupil spoke to voters after fitting them with the oximeter, wiping it down between each use and following CDC guidelines

Asked what motivates him in 2020, a Trump supporter named Doug who declined to give his last name said it was "peace and love."

"I love America. I love Americans," he said, standing in front of a pro-Trump gathering. "I'm supporting Trump because I think he will do what's best for America and all Americans."

His resting heart rate measured at 104 beats per minute, perhaps elevated by the crowd behind him.

"There's going to be an election, and there's going to be a president. And after that's done, we still have to love each other and still be Americans and we have to stop dividing," Doug said, his heart rate climbing to 139 — the highest point CBS News measured.

Michigan resident Heather Fontecchio, who said she was voting for Biden, saw her heart rate shoot from the low-80s to 100 and then 106 beats per minute when talking about student loans.

"I have a lot of student loan debt," Fontecchio said. "I have more student loans than I have in the mortgage of my house."

Fellow Biden supporter Mark Grech saw his heart rate spike when discussing climate change.

"We need to start paying attention to climate change, because I think it's like the coronavirus, where we know it's coming but we're not acting on it," Grech said as his heart rate climbed to 112. 

However, not every issue sent voters' hearts racing. Two people questioned had their pulse decrease when speaking about topics that make them feel discouraged.

When asked about President Trump's rhetoric on race, Biden supporter Felicia Dorsey-Fair's pulse dipped from its resting heart rate in the 80s. She said Mr. Trump's comments made her "sad."

"To me, it's something that we should all be trying to come together," she said.

Trump supporter Dawn Beattie, on the other hand, had a consistently high heart rate even as she expressed weariness over the "anger" and "division" in the country.

"This is supposed to be a free country and I'm not feeling very free right now," she said.

Beattie's heart rate climbed highest when discussing the "lack of [her] freedom" she felt under coronavirus public health restrictions. 

She summed up what she felt about 2020 in two words: "dumpster fire." 


Tony Doukopil's series "At America's Crossroads" continues on CBS This Morning on Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 a.m.