Most Temple students at the Draught Horse Wednesday night said they came to watch the Yankees play the Red Sox instead of the presidential debate because they have already made up their minds about the candidates.
“I watched the last debate and Bush talked me in circles,” senior Darnell Wallace said. “I am not going to watch the next debate because I already know who I am going to vote for.”
Mark Nevins, Pennsylvania’s communications director for Sen. John Kerry’s campaign, said he wasn’t surprised that Temple students were not watching the debate. He said the debates serve a purpose for those whose minds are not made up yet.
Senior Blake Johnson said the last debate might be the tie-breaker in terms of those undecided. Although Johnson did note that baseball is his favorite sport, he said he would not watch the debate because things for him have not changed since 2000.
The 18-29 demographic for a swing state like Pennsylvania might be more important than voters realize. This age group comprises 19 percent of Pennsylvania’s eligible voters, thus contributing largely to the outcome of the election, according to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning.
The Draught Horse has 16 televisions. In the second game of the Yankees versus Red Sox, and the last debate, America’s past time won 14-2 over America’s future.
But not everyone felt that way.
Justin Proctor, who tried to tune out the sounds of the game and screeching Nirvana said, “Let’s face it, this actually matters. Who cares about baseball when the future of the free world is at stake?”
As the debate closed, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter struck a home run and 50-cent drafts took over the tap, but a political gathering was taking place a few blocks away.
In the Owl Cove at Mitten Hall, Chris Heinz attended the College Democrats debate party. Students clamored for his attention, asking for autographs and pictures as if he were a Yankees player.
Pew Research Center conducted a study of young registered voters, reporting that “57 percent of those under age 30 say they are giving a lot of thought to the upcoming election. That compares with just 41 percent of young people who said they were thinking a lot about the election at this stage four years ago.”
However, of the subjects polled for Pew, 42 percent said the debates matter for this election. Only 27 to 28 percent of those 30 and over think the debates will matter. Judging by the turnout at the Draught Horse, baseball was definitely a top priority for Temple students during the final debate.
Debates, however, have importance for those seeking education about the candidates. Even those who already know who they are voting for still seem to want to hear both sides.
“We need to have awareness, be educated, be knowledgeable about what the candidates stand for,” Debbie Stern, a second-year law student, said. “The debates are a platform to see how the candidates speak to the country.”
Student involvement in politics appears to be at an all time high since classes began. It could even be labeled trendy.
“Everybody is all ‘Rock the Vote’ because George Bush stole the last election,” said Tyler Haywood. He said he will vote because, “You can’t complain if you don’t vote.”
But if the scene at the Draught Horse Wednesday night is at all indicative of how many college students care about the election, this swing state might have to do without a very important demographic.
“Apathy,” College Democrats President Assaf Holtzman lamented, “is our biggest concern.”
Nicole D’Andrea can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.