DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The first presidential debate happens Tuesday night, 35 days before the General Election.
At the University of Dayton, Professor Joe Valenzano said both the UD campus and his political campaign communications class seems to be split in half with those who identify as conservative or liberal.
He said on campus there’s a lot of election engagement this year and students seem to be more informed than years past.
“Students tend to be way more committed to their candidates early on than adults, so it can be somewhat difficult to try and break that mentality and get them to step back and objectively look at a campaign,” said Joe Valenzano.
Valenzano said he doesn’t know if Tuesday night will sway voters already committed to their party.
“With the republican students, they tend to be very focused on jobs and making sure they have a job when they graduate, that’s their big issue,” said Valenzano. “The students who are more on the left think about more social issues, race in America, but really their primary driver is removing Trump from office.”
UD student, Jayden Lewis, said race relations and their response to COVID-19 and getting the country back to normal will be what he focuses on, but added tonight should just solidify his vote for the candidate he already prefers.
Two Dayton residents, Bryan Jackson and Ed Snow Jr., said they don’t plan on watching Tuesday night’s debate because they said their mind is already made up on their vote come November. Both said it’s because of Trump’s actions during his first term, which they have very different interpretations of.
“As far as the debate goes, I don’t see a need for it because as an American citizen and most citizens should realize by now, if we use our common sense there’s no way we can vote for Trump, he has disappointed us time and time again,” said Jackson.
“I think under the circumstances, President Trump has done a pretty good job,” said Snow. “Look what he’s gone through, what he had to fight, a virus. No president in the world could have dealt with it any better than he did.”
There is still a small, and shrinking pool of people like Abby Rutan who are undecided. Rutan said she will be watching the debate and will be paying attention to social issues like race relations and police reform. She said the candidate’s responses could make or break her will to even cast a vote.
“I don’t want to say a swing vote but I’m not super invested either way,” said Rutan. “I might vote, I might not, but if I see something particular tonight, it might push me towards voting when I was hesitant before.”
The debate will begin at 9 p.m.