Final Debate Influences Athens’ Undecided Student Voters

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Dozens of undecided student voters gathered inside a dark room at Ohio University's Stocker Hall Monday night to watch the third and final presidential debate. 

The foreign policy debate captivated the students, as President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney argued and attacked each other. 

"We also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them," said Obama in response to Romney's accusation that Obama let the Navy shrink.

"You said that on occasion, America has dictated to other nations. Mr. President, America has not dictated to other nations. We have freed other nations from dictators," said Romney, as he criticized Obama's relationship with other countries, such as Israel

Students laughed and gasped at the candidates responses. Their eyes were glued to the screen and their fingers were tapping the keyboards as they shared their opinions about the debate through various forms of social media.

But one undecided voter chose to watch from the dark room to escape from the influence of social media.

"I wanted to see and form my own opinions on my own and not just what my friends say or what I saw on Facebook or Twitter. I wanted to get the facts from my own perspective," said Andrew Poulsen, a junior at OU.

Poulsen said he considers himself an independent voter.

"I wouldn't really say I'm die-hard anything. I'd say I'm somewhere in the middle," he said.

He said last night's debate helped him decide who he will vote for.

"I definitely liked President Obama's comments on education reform and education policy. I come from a family of educators," he said.

Ohio University senior Brooke Bunce said Monday's debate was especially important to informing her decision. It was the first debate she's watched this election season.

"I thought I had a pretty clear opinion about what I felt like each candidate stood for, and I felt like I really didn't need to watch them. But, getting closer to the election, I felt that I needed to watch at least one," she said.

After watching the final debate, Brooke said her decision is clear. 

"Based on this debate, I would choose Barack Obama, just because I feel like he had specifics and details to back up all of his defenses against Mitt Romney, and not just opinions out of the blue or statements of fact that came out of nowhere," she said.

Whether they cheered for Obama or clapped for Romney, the undecided student voters were actively engaged during the foreign policy debate, and appear to be ready to vote.