Valley residents rate presidential debate

Fresno State audience was rapt but unmoved.

The Fresno BeeOctober 3, 2012 

A rapt audience of more than 100 people gathered Wednesday at Fresno State to watch the debate between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney -- and at the end few, if any, minds were changed.

Students and community members quietly watched the entire debate projected on a large screen, with only occasional laughs or "pffffts" expressing derision breaking the silence. About 40 used electronic devices to answer questions posted on a separate screen during the debate. The results suggested an evenly divided room.

Obama was deemed the winner of the debate by a slight margin of 22 to 21 among those voting with the devices. However, when they were asked how they might vote if the election were held tomorrow, Romney won 21 to 19. Two people chose a third party option.

After the debate, Jeff Cummins, an associate professor of political science at Fresno State, asked the audience whether the debate had flipped anyone from one candidate to the other. No one raised their hand.

Democrat Fernando Moreno, 25, a first-year master's degree candidate, said he was pleased to hear Obama voice support for education.

Moreno said he appreciated Obama's willingness to step in to help students, something he wanted to see from both candidates.

"Obama won my debate," Moreno said.

Daniel Harrison, 21, a former Democrat who is now the chairman of the College Republicans at Fresno State, said that as a result of the debate independents will not have a hard time differentiating between candidates.

Romney "showed us he could stand up to Obama, which means he could stand up to China and other nations that take advantage of us," said Harrison, an economics major. "Obama is a national leader and you have to show you can stand up to powerful leaders."

Cummins said there will be a similar opportunity for people to watch the next three debates, including the vice presidential debate, in a bipartisan environment at Fresno State.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6279 or jrayburn@fresnobee.com.

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