The Hopkins College Democrats, Hopkins College Republicans, and the JHU Politik joined to host presidential and vice presidential debate viewings the last three weeks at Nolan’s.
In order to cast an informed vote in the upcoming election—the first in which many undergraduates are eligible to participate—students gathered to watch the presidential debates.
Students from all years had the opportunity to discuss and analyze the candidates’ performance, disproving stigmas of Hopkins’ apathetic or apolitical student body.
“People are generally quiet about politics on the quad and in passing, which is good. But it is great to see all allegiances and debates manifest themselves in these types of settings. Everyone laughed if something was funny. It’s just simply more fun to watch the debates with other students while enjoying a slice of pizza, rather than watching it alone in your room on your computer,” freshman Rex Dyer said.
“The fact that people even show up for the vice presidential debate is a good sign of political enthusiasm amongst Hopkins students,” senior Joanna Gawlik said.
Faculty members at the University also took note of the student body’s passion for keeping up with politics.
“It was great to see so many students in attendance and fun to watch current events unfold together with the Hopkins community,” Associate Director of the International Studies Program Julia Galan said.
The second presidential debate between Governor Romney and President Obama, which was conducted in a town hall format, took place on Tuesday night, Oct. 16, at Hofstra University.
Of great pertinence to the undergraduates at Hopkins, the first question of the debate was from a student asking what each candidate would do to ensure job prospects and financial well being after graduation.
Obama was unquestionably more vibrant in the second presidential debate in comparison with the first, but Romney was equally as combative and energetic. In order for Obama to make up lost ground, he needed to explain his agenda more clearly and more fiercely. Obama charged Romney of having a “sketchy” tax plan that wouldn’t be fiscally sustainable. The governor replied by stating that he had a record of fiscal responsibility as demonstrated by his balanced a budget as governor of Massachusetts and as director for the Salt Lake City Olympics.
“Obama was better at going after Romney in this debate. The primary impetus for Obama needing to go after Romney in this debate was because of how the last debate turned out for the president,” Dyer said.
In addition to being a hub of political fervor among students, the viewings have served as a venue for these groups to register student voters for the upcoming election.
Voter participation amongst Hopkins students will be significant this year.
“We’ve registered over 600 voters ourselves and we’re excited about that,” junior and Co-President of the Hopkins College Democrats Matt Stewart said.
Last Thursday night, Oct. 11, Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan sparred in the vice presidential debate. The debate came at a crucial time for both tickets as Ryan tried to capitalize on Romney’s momentum from the first presidential debate while Biden was faced with the task of winning the lead for the Obama camp. The candidates answered questions on several issues ranging from Medicare to the threat of a nuclear Iran.
“Following the first presidential debate, Romney has the momentum. Therefore, this is Ryan’s game to lose, but it is important to keep in mind the Ryan hasn’t ever participated in a debate of this nature,” senior Cristina Apgar of the Hopkins College Republicans said.
Freshman Andrew Guernsey of the Hopkins College Republicans believed that in the debate Ryan would show a significant contrast between the Romney ticket and the Obama ticket.
“Ryan will have a more positive message that will be geared towards this [Hopkins student’s] generation. He will demonstrate the contrast between the old generation of spending and the new generation of fiscal responsibility,” Guernsey said.
Despite the narrowing lead after the President’s performance in the first presidential debate, many democrats felt that Biden would embrace the role of regaining the President’s dominance in the polls by being aggressive.
“Biden is capable of keeping Ryan in check and slowing down Romney’s post debate momentum,” sophomore Carrie Resnick, Programming Chair of the Hopkins College Democrats, said.
Sophomore Abby Hartman, was moved by the way Biden was able to connect with her personally by explaining his view on abortion without discrediting his religion.
“Biden spoke in a way that hit home with a lot of Americans. As a pro-choice Catholic, I felt that Biden’s defense of the administration’s pro-choice record hit the nail on the head. He articulated perfectly what many Americans, such as myself, feel,” Hartman said.
Regardless of one’s political views, it was clear that the vice presidential debate was entertaining. Both candidates were able to mudsling under the guise of humor- a tactic that both sides appreciated.
“I wish turnout was better because I thought this debate was better than the first presidential debate. It was more aggressive and entertaining,” Stewart said.
WBAL Radio AM 1090 was in attendance at Nolan’s last Thursday night at the vice presidential viewing party, interested in listening to the opinions of university students—the generation facing many fiscal, foreign policy, and social issues.
Reporter Robert Lang covered the event for WBAL.
“[I am] looking to get some student perspectives,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for us to come out and talk to some students. It seemed that there were few independents in the crowd and that the vice presidential debate did not change many people’s minds. Enthusiasm for each person’s candidate was evident.”