This item originally appeared in the October 7, 2004 issue of The Tech Talk.
By JULIE MILLER
Associate Managing Editor
An informal poll of Tech students suggested the campus thought Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry won the first presidential debate, but the university is sticking with President George W. Bush.
The 90-minute debate took place at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla., and according to Nielson Media Research, was viewed by more than 62 million U.S. viewers.
Dr. Jason Pigg, an assistant professor of political science, said the presidential debates do not usually play a significant role in elections, but things could be different this year.
"These debates might matter more than debates in the past because the country is so evenly divided," Pigg said. "Voters are uncertain about who Kerry is, and President Bush is a polarizing figure, so these debates could make a difference."
Bush said he believes a free Iraq is in America's interest. "We've done a lot of hard work together in the past three and a half years," he said. "We can achieve all the peace we want."
Bush said this would be done through an all-volunteer army.
Kerry, who also opposes the draft, said he has a plan for Iraq which includes a fresh start, new credibility and stronger alliances.
"America's best days are ahead of us," he said. "I defended this country as a young man in war, and I will defend it as President of the United States."
According to a poll conducted last Friday by Tech Talk news editors, the majority of students who watched the debates were for Bush, but Kerry received the most votes when asked who won.
"It was the way [Kerry] presented himself," Kris Lucas, a member of the debate team and a sophomore speech communication major, said. "Most people just see presentation, and Bush could have had the best thing to say, but Kerry ended each of his speeches on a confident note."
Pigg said nation-wide polls say Kerry was the clear winner.
"I think students at Tech are atypical because they are so overwhelmingly for Bush," Pigg said. "But they are not atypical for North Louisiana."
Justin Adcock, a graduate student in industrial organizational psychology, said he thought it was a good debate.
"I think it is important for people who don't know who they are going to vote for because you get the information from the candidates without any media distortion," he said.
Dante' Clemons, a senior architecture major, said she thinks the debates will affect her age group.
"Older people already know who to vote for," she said. "They have more experience in presidential elections. At this age, we are just beginning to lay a firm foundation about our beliefs so we are more likely to change."
The candidates will debate again at 8 p.m. tomorrow from Washington University in St. Louis and Oct. 13 at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz.
"I think the next two [debates] will be even better," Adcock said. "I think they will really look at the issues."
News editors Jordan Marshall and Rindy Metcalf contributed to this story.