Although the Democratic debate was happening at Otterbein University, students gathered at Gateway Film Center near Ohio State Tuesday — debate “bingo cards” in hand — to watch the 12 Democratic presidential candidates on the big screen.
Some students said they were watching the debate to find a favorite candidate, while others already had their minds made up. For many students, the debate left them feeling that certain candidates stood out.
Kathleen Butto, a fourth-year in criminology, said she supports Sen. Elizabeth Warren “all day, every day.”
“She’s not too much of a socialist, but I just love her,” Butto said. “I think she would bring a lot to the table, and I think her leadership, the things she’s already achieved, should just get her to be president.”
Although Meghan Yeager, a third-year in chemical engineering, said she preferred Warren, she said she hoped to get a clearer picture of the race from the debate.
“I hope that there’s a clear winner. And a clear loser. I’m hoping that we will see who will be the best candidate from it,” Yeager said. “I hope that it will lead us all in the right direction, looking at someone in particular and instead of splitting. I don’t want to split the Democratic Party anymore.”
Warren’s recent rise in the polls made her the target of attacks from her Democratic opponents, especially from former Vice President Joe Biden over her role in the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Warren stepped into her role as the woman to beat in the debate, ending the night with 20 minutes of talking time, which is five minutes longer than Biden and seven minutes longer than Sen. Amy Klobuchar, according to a New York Times analysis.
Kaleigh Murphy, a first-year in political science, said before the debate she wanted to see some action from the underdogs.
“Right now, I’m looking forward to see how people kind of advance over Joe Biden. I know he’s been kind of lagging in the polls,” Murphy said. “And in terms of just in general, I guess, so to see, who kind of stands out, and then I’m curious to see if anybody who’s polling at one percent does anything remarkable.”
After the debate, Anthony Olivera, a 2017 Ohio State alum, noted two candidates who aren’t at the top of the polls who he said he thought did particularly well.
“At first, I thought Tulsi Gabbard did well, though she kind of faded on the second half, and then Pete Buttigieg did really well, though I don’t support him because of his influx of corporate funding on his campaign,” Olivera said.
The audience of all ages was lively, with people in the theater cheering as well as groaning throughout the debate.
People at the watch party were given 2020 debate “bingo cards” as an activity to mark whenever token phrases or policy points were said. Some of the tiles included “any mention of ‘Trump’s tweets,’” “I have a plan for this,” “socialism (in a good way),” and “socialism (in a bad way).”
Some students said the high number of candidates on stage made the debate difficult to watch.
“I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed,” Katriese Deleon, a second-year in linguistics, said. “I feel like there’s a lot of voices and opinions and a lot of overlap, but then also it’s hard to find a clear thought process throughout everything.”
Though Deleon said the debate was overwhelming, she said it also helped her align with some of the candidates.
“I actually think the farther left, more like revolutionary ideology, I’m becoming more fond of it because it just seems a lot more powerful,” Deleon said. “I feel like it cuts through the chaos a little bit.”
Following the debate, Butto said that she was glad Warren discussed comprehensive health care. Though Warren, Biden and Sanders fielded questions about their age during the debate, Butto said the issue of the age of candidates did not pose a problem in terms of her vote.
“I don’t necessarily think because of age that they should be automatically eliminated or that people should think that they’re not going to do as much as someone at the candidate that is younger,” Butto said. “I would love to see someone like Bernie be president. Whether that happens or not, I think age has nothing to do with it. As long as you are fighting for the right things, you could be 15 or 85. It won’t really matter to me.”
Desi Lapoole, a fourth-year in journalism at the College of Wooster, said she came into the event leaning towards Warren, but was not completely sold. She said by the time she left, Warren stood out to her, and Biden did too — but not in a good way.
“He kept slipping up. He even said something — what did he say? Something about eliminating capital gains tax, and apparently that’s not what he meant to say, but he said it. So I guess those two stood out to me, Warren in a good way, and Biden in a not-so-good way,” Lapoole said.