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Packers Or Politicians? A No-Brainer For Dissatisfied Wisconsin Voters

Many Voters Opted For The Green Bay Packers Game Over Second Presidential Debate

Green Bay Packers fans
Fans cheer during the second half of an NFL football game between the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Mike Roemer/AP Photo

It’s a crisp fall night, and through the window and past the handful of glowing beer signs, a crowd of Green Bay Packers fans in their green and gold gear sit at the bar in Dexter’s Pub, a neighborhood tavern on Madison’s east side.

Beer flows from taps, the grill sizzles with burgers, and the sound of Sunday Night Football fills the air.

But it’s safe to say not everyone in Wisconsin – maybe not even every Packers fan in the state – was having a similar experience.

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The Packers played the New York Giants at the same time Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump faced off on the debate stage Sunday night. It was the second presidential debate of the 2016 election season.

“Judging by the last debate, and what I had heard went on, I’d rather keep all my brain cells,” said Maggie Kane, a Madison resident and Packers fan who was happy with her choice to watch the game at Dexter’s instead of the debate at home.

For some people, though, sitting out the debate isn’t just about preserving brain cells. Some aren’t watching because they genuinely dislike both candidates.

“It’s bad against bad, I don’t know what to say, there (are) really no choices. I don’t think either one of them should be in the race, to be honest,” said Janet Payne, another Dexter’s patron.

Payne said she’s never missed an election, but she thinks so little of Clinton and Trump that she may sit this one out.

“I’m considering not voting … I wouldn’t know who to vote for, realistically, there’s just nothing,” Payne said. “I don’t like either one of them. I don’t like what they stand for.”

Ben Perlman, who was sitting with his belly up to the bar and a couple friends next to him, said he felt the same way as Payne.

“It’s an embarrassment, to be honest,” Perlman said. “I feel like we have two really poor choices, and I’m kind of surprised those are our choices this year.”

According to the latest Marquette University Law School poll, Payne and Perlman aren’t alone.

The poll, released late last month, found 68 percent of Republicans would have liked their party to nominate someone other than Trump, and 48 percent of Democrats would prefer former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders as their nominee instead of Clinton.

A few Dexter’s customers, including David Rooney, said they’d be at home if another candidate were on stage.

“Oh yeah, if it were Bernie Sanders, I’d be watching it,” Rooney said.

But it wasn’t Sanders debating for Democrats, even though he won Wisconsin’s April primary. And for Republicans, it wasn’t Wisconsin primary winner Ted Cruz.

Janet Payne’s son, David, who was watching the game with his mom, said he’s felt at a distinct lack of excitement this election cycle.

“I’m not enthused, that’s for sure,” David Payne said.

But David said, even if it were Sanders, or Cruz, or another candidate he was more excited about, it wouldn’t matter much tonight. He still wouldn’t be watching the debate.

“It’s Packers Sunday,” he laughed.

And that is an awful lot for politicians to compete with in Wisconsin, especially when they aren’t voters’ first choices to begin with.