'Double haters' who dislike both Biden and Trump may well have swelled in number after debate

On the pier in California's Manhattan Beach, 21-year-old Stella and her friends are crowded round a phone watching videos of two old men rowing about their golf handicap.

It's not the level of discourse they, or anyone else, hoped for from the presidential debate.

"It sounds like a drunk, blackout conversation they're having at 3am," one young woman says.

"I think Joe Biden is cognitively declining," says another. "I think he was never fit to be president, and I don't think he is now. I think there's a clear, obvious answer to who is fit and that is Trump 2024."

In affluent Manhattan Beach, 65% voted for Joe Biden in 2020 but some Democrat voters here are troubled by the version of the president they saw during the debate: Feeble voiced, stumbling over his words and unable to sell his vision for America.

"I felt disappointed, forlorn, despairing," says Loretta. "He didn't speak well at all. I believe that he's not demented as people accuse him of, but his communication difficulties were evident."

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Loretta is a lifelong Democrat voter, but Biden's debate performance might have changed her mind.

"I might have to hold my nose and vote for Trump," she says. "He has bad character traits. But it's certainly given me food for thought. Bad food, food poisoning."

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Biden's debate performance is one that has already spawned a thousand memes as well as panic in his own party that he might not have the vitality to prevail over Trump in an election campaign.

Genie, from Manhattan Beach, is 81, the same age as Biden. "Maybe at our age we're a bit slower to articulate what we're thinking, but I think he's still viable and has the mental capacity to do the job," she says. "My concern is the energy level."

Harry Swanson, a Trump voter from New York, visiting his daughter in California, was not so forgiving in his assessment. "Biden's out to lunch," he says. "It's no fault of his own. He's just an older guy, put in an awkward position."

"I don't know who pulls the strings to put these people where they are," he adds. "If Trump, who I like, was mentally like Biden, there's not a chance I'd consider him. I mean, how could you?"

Biden has insisted he won't step down as the Democratic Party's nominee, but chatter has intensified about potential alternatives, including the governor of California.

Gavin Newsom is a rising star in the Democratic Party, tipped as a successor to Biden. But he's standing squarely behind the leader for now.

"We've got to have the back of this president," he says. "You don't turn your back because of one performance."

Scott, from Manhattan Beach, says he would prefer to see Newsom as the nominee. "He's a very powerful presence and someone younger would be good," he says. "I think he'd have more chance of beating Trump."

Martin, from Chicago, agrees. "It would be in their best interests to get Biden to step down and have somebody else run for the Democrats because by the looks of it, it's not looking good," he says. "I just know that I would vote for anyone but Biden or Trump."

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Martin is one of the "double haters", a phrase used to describe voters who are dismayed that Biden or Trump is likely to be their choice in November.

After Thursday's debate, those double haters may well have swelled in number.