Politics might as well be a sport, given the way undergraduates applauded and hollered during the Thursday night vice presidential debate at a viewing hosted by the Institute of Politics.
But even though Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Republican Congressman Paul D. Ryan sparred aggressively during the event, students largely predicted that the outcome of the debate would not affect the election greatly.
“Not many people watch vice presidential debates,” said Santiago Pardo ’16, who spent last summer campaigning for Barack Obama in Georgia, where he managed a team of high school student interns. He said that he thought the first of the presidential debates, which attract a larger audience, did not majorly change the likely outcome of the race. “It’s more of being overblown by the media.”
Matthew S. Krane ’15, who worked for Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren’s campaign for Massachusetts’ junior U.S. Senate seat, said that he went into the debate understanding it would have a marginal impact on his political leanings. “If it goes well, [it’s] not really important,” he said, adding that “it could push me away from Ryan” if the congressman performed poorly.
But Jim P. McGlone ’15, who worked for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign over the summer, was more enthusiastic about the debate. “I’m more excited than I’ve been at any part in the campaign,” said McGlone, adding that after last week’s debate, the election “got really interesting.”
Sarah R. Siskind ’14 shared McGlone’s excitement, saying that these debates—even between the two vice president candidates—are vital. “It’s important to look at these people on stage and remember these people are a heartbeat away from the Oval Office,” said Siskind, who is also a Crimson columnist.
As political pundits rehashed the candidates’ performance in the debate, students said they were uncertain who came out favorably after the event. “I think they equally defended their views,” Julia B. Konrad ’13 said. “I really enjoyed this debate....There was much more of a delineation of views.”
Siskind argued that Ryan might have captured moderates with his performance in Thursday’s debate. “Ryan’s a very careful and calm debater,” she said, commenting that Biden was more confrontational in his approach.
Thursday’s debate, the only one between the vice presidential candidates, will be followed by a town hall debate between the presidential candidates next Tuesday.