SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Experts and voters voiced their reactions to the fiery debate between Senator Mike Lee and challenger Evan McMullin.   

Experts said you can tell by this heated debate just how close it is and how personal it has become.  

“I’m not going to Washington, if we prevail, to be a bootlicker for Donald Trump,” McMullin said

“An opportunistic gadfly supported by the democratic party,” Lee said. 

Lee and challenger McMullin took jabs back and forth such as these in last night’s debate. Though experts knew it’d get heated, some said the language was still surprising to hear 

Meanwhile, voters on social media went back and forth about who came on top. 

Jason Perry, the Director at the Hinkley Institute of Politics, said there wasn’t necessarily a clear winner and both candidates executed their strategy. 

“Mike Lee was trying to show those voters that Evan McMullin is just really too closely associated with President Biden. Evan McMullin was trying to show that Mike Lee is too closely associated with Donald Trump,” Perry said. 

He said the debate largely solidified votes from people who already have their minds made up but didn’t make things clearer for undecided moderate voters. 

“It was not the kind of debate that people got a ton out of. I don’t think it changed a lot of hearts or minds,” Perry said. 

Experts said the fiery back and forth took away from talking about real solutions or about issues like inflation, immigration, abortion and student debt.  

The Dignity Index, a nonpartisan group that codes the language of politicians, said there was definitely more contempt than dignity in the language. 

“You would come here today and spout not only lies but lies that are specific to the leftist cause lies,” Lee said. 

“That was the most egregious betrayal of our nation’s constitution,” McMullin said. 

The index rated both of these statements a three: saying they attack someone’s moral character while saying one population is better than another. 

They said despite the high tensions they hope language like this won’t prevail 

“You can make a powerful case and challenge an opponent and hold someone accountable and do it with dignity,” project director of the Dignity Index Tom Rosshirt said. 

The first ballots mailed out Tuesday.