We probably shouldn’t keep obsessing over the Oz v Fetterman debate from last night but it was just such an indescribable traffic wreck that it’s difficult to look away. You’ve already seen plenty of coverage here of just how wrong things went for the Democrat and the various excuses being made for his behavior by much of the mainstream media. CNN took a bit of a different approach today, however. Rather than focusing on Fetterman’s incoherent ramblings, they sought out some of his staunch supporters to see if the debate had swayed them at all. Perhaps unsurprisingly, those who were solidly in John Fetterman’s corner prior to the debate are largely still there today. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t worried. It’s not a question of whether or not he would be able to fulfill the duties of his office if elected. (Of course he won’t.) What they’re really concerned about is what other people are thinking today and if that performance might cost him his shot at victory.

Democrat John Fetterman’s debate performance has intensified the focus on his recovery from a stroke, leading some supporters to worry that his current post-stroke limitations could affect his narrow lead in the critical Pennsylvania Senate race against Republican Mehmet Oz.

If Fetterman’s showing changes the trajectory of the race, the debate could have nationwide ramifications, with Pennsylvania representing the best chance for Democrats to pick up a Senate seat in the evenly divided chamber. A CNN poll conducted by SSRS and released earlier this week found that 51% of likely voters support Fetterman, compared to 45% for Oz, an advantage narrowly outside of the survey’s margin of error. And a CBS News poll also released this week found a tightening race, with 51% of likely voters in Pennsylvania backing Fetterman and 49% backing Oz…

In conversations with CNN, multiple Fetterman voters said that, while his performance made them anxious about his prospects with swing voters, they still planned to cast a ballot for him. In fact, none of the voters who entered the night planning to vote for the Democrat said they were planning to change their vote.

I wanted to highlight this article for you not because of what impact the debate will likely have on the final vote tallies, but on the thinking that seems to be pervasive in the Democratic Party these days. Not a single person CNN spoke to who went into the debate backing Fetterman has changed their mind. In fact, some of them pointed out that the candidate’s ability to master any cognitive abilities or even make it to his seat was the furthest thing from their mind.

One Democrat from eastern Pennsylvania made that point abundantly clear. She said, “I would never vote for Oz. I don’t care if they had to wheel Fetterman into the Senate in a hospital bed. But I think we could be in a little bit of trouble here.”

Another of Fetterman’s supporters described the debate as being similar to a car accident. “It’s like looking at a car accident. You want to look, but you don’t want to look.” Another said that he sees “a lot of red flags raising for people about his capabilities.” In other words, the ability to do the job plays no part in their reasoning. They’re just worried that other voters might have noticed what a train wreck Fetterman was during the debate and they might get cold feet.

Of course, this was never about the prospect of a large herd of Democrats suddenly voting for Oz or staying home on November 8th. Nor was it about Fetterman’s tragic condition engendering sympathy among Dr. Oz’s supporters and having them switch sides at the last moment. Last night was all about the narrow swath of voters who either hadn’t made up their minds yet or were leaning in one direction or the other but still were persuadable.

We’re talking about Pennsylvania’s independent voters, of which there are many. And all of the polling shows that they had not all come home to roost as of this weekend, with enough of them still on the fence to make a difference in an election that currently appears to be hanging on a razor-thin edge. That’s the target audience and those are the people who will wind up pushing one of these men over the finish line. (If it’s Fetterman, possibly while riding in a hospital bed.) And if last night’s debate was the final image they have as they ponder their choices for election day, let’s just say that I wouldn’t count Dr. Oz out of this race yet.

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