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After debate: undecided voters still unsure

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PBS journalist and debate moderator Gwen Ifill (C) looks on as Democratic vice presidential candidate U.S. Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) and Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin smile during the vice presidential debate.
Photo by Don Emmert-Pool/Getty Images

"So we have in the room here 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 undecided voters. Has anyone, after seeing this vice presidential debate, made up their mind?"

No hands went up. And that's consistent with the research. Very few voters make their choices based on the vice presidential contenders. 

Gilbert tried another line of questioning:

Debate watching
More than 100 people gathered at Minnesota Public Radio to watch Friday night's presidential debate.
MPR Photo/Curtis Gilbert

"Who won the debate? Raise your hand if you think Sarah Palin won the debate."

Rick Dworsky of St. Louis Park raised his hand.

"I liked her energy, her poise. She had spunk. I liked that she'd demonstrated some humility to Joe Biden," Dworsky said.

Rick's wife Linda thought Palin was impressive, too, but not in the right way.

"She impressed me as almost like a cheerleader, but I didn't feel like she was a strong enough candidate and had enough experience to actually run the country at this point," Linda Dworsky said.

She said Biden inspired her confidence.

"He just knew what he was talking about. You could just tell that he had lots of experience and was very well versed in what had been going on."

The last two debates have tugged Linda Dworsky to the left. She started out leaning strongly toward McCain. But after she saw him debate Obama last week, she found herself completely undecided. Now Biden has her leaning a little toward the Democrats, but like the rest of our group, she was still undecided.

Rosemount resident James Masanz saw the debate as a draw. 

Democratic supporters watch the debate
Democratic supporters watch the televised debate between Democrat vice presidential candidate Joseph Biden and his Republican counterpart Sarah Palin at the Social Hollywood in Los Angeles.

"I thought they both did well in different ways."

He agreed with Rick Dworsky that Palin was likeable, and with Linda Dworsky that Biden was knowledgable. Though there was one point where Masanz says the Democratic candidate went too far.

"The point that stuck out most in my mind is when Biden promised us where the next terrorist attack -- if it would come -- would come from."

This is what Biden said: "It's going to come, as our security services have said, it's going to come from al Qaeda planning in the hills of Afghanistan and Pakistan."

"And I just found it absurd that someone thinks they could predict that," Dworsky said

But, Masanz was not any closer to a decision after last night.

"Well I also had told myself maybe a month ago that I was going to tune everything out until October, because I was just getting tired of all of the politics and not hearing enough about what the candidates were really going to do and what they really stood for."

He's going through that process now. He used to always vote Republican. Now he's an Independent, and in the last presidential election he cast his vote for a third party candidate.

"It did somewhat feel like wasting my vote, but I haven't ruled it out yet. It's going to really depend on if there's a candidate I can feel really good about supporting," Masanz said.

Eden Prairie resident Mark Ellingson is also having a hard time supporting either McCain or Obama.

As said Biden won it handily.

"He spoke to the middle class. He spoke to the issues. He knew exactly how John McCain had voted."

In fact if anything, Ellingson would say Biden did too well.

"He should be at the top of the ticket, not the other way around."

Ellingson and his partner, Jamie Larson, were both Hillary Clinton supporters. They have both been toying with the notion of voting for John McCain. 

Larson doesn't like what he sees as McCain's slide to the right, and he really doesn't like that McCain chose the socially conservative and relatively inexperienced Sarah Palin as his running mate.

"It's a bit more crucial because of his age and a month after he gets into office, if he strokes out or something, I mean you could be stuck with her," Larson said.

But Larson said the debate did not have much of an effect on his choice.

"If anything, maybe 5 to 10 percent towards Obama, but this is not a decision-maker."

His partner, Mark Ellingson, is pretty far from a decision, too.

"Where do I go, you know, is it down to just writing in a candidate and basically throwing away my vote? Or maybe the next to debates will make me decide I guess."

If Ellingson does write in a candidate, of course, it would be Hillary Clinton.