Tuesday night’s debate between President Barack Obama and Republican Gov. Mitt Romney sparked the attention of millions of Americans.
The debate, which was held at Hofstra University in New York, left many voters including students, faculty, and staff at Slippery Rock University wondering who would be the best candidate to vote for.
Dr. Tom Sparrow, professor of philosophy, doesn’t think that the debates are a viable way of understanding where the candidates stand.
“They only have two minutes to give an answer,” Sparrow said. “You can’t really give a substantial, justified response to any of these questions, even if they go over time, which they inevitably do.”
Dr. Heather Frederick, assistant professor of political science, thinks that both candidates are taking the wrong approach to winning over undecided voters.
“Both need to stop caring about undecided voters and start energizing their bases,” Frederick said. “I don’t care what polls say, Obama supporters won’t vote for him again if they aren’t as jazzed about him as they were four years ago. And Romney is a moderate; so true conservatives don’t like him. Instead of trying to reach [for undecided voters], both candidates need to appeal to their bases to get them to the polls to vote.”
Another political science professor, Dr. Daniel McIntosh, believes that Romney and Obama take a vastly different approach to politics, particularly foreign policy, the subject of Tuesday evening’s debate.
“Obama has a different way of doing things,” McIntosh said. “He believes in ‘leading from behind’… He knows the U.S. can’t run the world, but he tries to nudge them in the right direction. Obama likes to do things quietly, a prime example being how he handled the Libya [incident].”
McIntosh said that Romney tends to take the opposite approach.
“Romney, on the other hand, likes to do things loud,” McIntosh said. “He would like to make the world into what he would want it to be, and thinks it necessary because the world is a dangerous place.”
Sparrow said he believes that the results of the election will depend on how trustworthy people view the candidates.
“I’ve spoken with people and have asked them about the candidates,” Sparrow said. “One of the things that they remark upon is whether or not they actually trust what the candidate is saying. I think that sort of factor is just as powerful at determining someone’s vote as what the actual policies are that the candidate is recommending or suggesting.”
Out of the professors interviewed, most thought that it was more likely for Obama to win the election, with one possible exception.
“For Romney, the road to the white house goes through Ohio,” Frederick said. “It will be virtually impossible for him to win without it.”
McIntosh also believes the election hinges on Ohio, but Romney stealing it from Obama won’t be a walk in the park.
“I think there are too many people in the automobile industry in Ohio who think that Obama saved their jobs for Romney to win, but it could come down to that,” McIntosh said. “Virginia and Florida will also help determine how Romney will [fair at the polls].”
According to Sparrow, Obama is more likely to win the election.
“My intuition is that Obama will win the election, partly because Romney’s character has been in question the whole time that he’s been in the spotlight and I don’t necessarily know that enough has been done to win the trust of people or at least that enough has been done to convince people that Romney is in fact someone who has everyone’s best interest in mind rather than the interest of the wealthy,” Sparrow said. “I think when it comes to electing a new president when you have a president up for reelection, it takes a lot of convincing that the opponent is going to do a substantially better job than the incumbent president.”
McIntosh also makes a prediction.
“I think it will be close, but Obama is going to win,” McIntosh said.
If a third party, such as the Libertarian or Green parties, were to earn five percent of the votes in the election, they would earn governmental funding for the next election. However, it remains to be seen weather or not that is likely to happen.
“We are no where near a third party rising up,” Frederick said. “We’re closer to the demise of the Republican party, and that is only because the Tea party has fractured them.”