Nation's youngest voters gather to watch vice presidential debate


The Ezell Center was the hub of political discussion Thursday night, Oct. 11, as several hundred students, faculty, staff and members of the Nashville community gathered in a packed SunTrust Center for Collaborative Learning to watch the debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Republican candidate Paul Ryan.

A number of families with young children joined the university community for the latest installment of Pizza and Politics to watch the debate and to participate in a discussion of election issues.

“This is fall break for my son, so this was a good night for him to stay up past his bedtime to watch the debate,” said the father of a nine-year-old who attended the debate watch event. “I want him to see this and listen to what is said because this will have an impact on his life. It’s great getting to come to a university campus to be a part of something like this.”

The audience began the evening by participating in an entrance poll about their opinions on the latest election issues. More than 72 percent of the audience polled was 21-years old or younger and more than 50 percent male. Prior to the debate, 23.53 percent of those polled were definitely for Obama, 14.12 percent were leaning toward Obama, 16.47 percent were leaning toward Romney and 45.88 percent were definitely for Romney.

The audience watched the debate as they enjoyed eating pizza, often responding to the candidates’ comments and antics with laughter, applause or quiet conversation.

The debate did have an impact on the opinions of those polled. Following the debate, 10.53 percent of those polled were definitely for Obama, 19.74 percent were leaning toward Obama, 17.11 percent were leaning toward Romney and 52.63 percent were definitely for Romney. More than 64 percent of those polled thought Ryan won the debate while 35.9 percent thought Biden won.

Following the debate, a panel comprised of Alé Dalton, Lipscomb Student Government Association academic committee chair; Toby Compton, project manager for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development; Gregory Ramos, attoryney for Noth, Pursell & Ramos PLC; and Emily Poe, president of Lipscomb’s College Republicans; and moderated by Alan Griggs, visiting professor and executive-in-residence in Lipscomb’s Department of Communication and Journalism in the College of Arts and Sciences; discussed the debate and each candidate’s performance.

Two additional Pizza & Politics Debate Watches are planned for Tuesday, Oct. 16 when the presidential candidates square off in a town meeting format on the issues of foreign and domestic policy and Monday, Oct. 22 for the final presidential debate before the November election.

Each Presidential Debate Watch will take place in Shamblin Theatre and is free and open to the public. Free pizza is served beginning at 7:15 p.m. At 7:30 p.m. the audience will be able to participate in an entrance poll and hear some tips from Lipscomb faculty on what to watch for during the debate. The debate will air from 8-9:30 p.m. followed by an exit poll and panel discussion featuring political experts who will discuss the debate.