Because of COVID-19, watch parties involved smaller crowds and virtual discussions.
Many at San Jose State University (SJSU) gathered for a presidential debate watch party fit for a pandemic. Close to 90 people met virtually. The crowd was mostly made up of young voters and professors.
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The discussion that followed the debate uncovered that some were left feeling uncomfortable about either candidate.
"As someone who watched 9/11 unfold in real time, that's about the level of anxiety that I'm experiencing right now, personally," one participant shared.
Virtual viewers at SJSU were polled immediately afterwards. They were asked three questions:
- Who appeared best prepared for the debate?
- Which issue discussed was the most informative or revealing for you?
- Who do you think won the presidential debate?
Most felt former Vice President Joe Biden was best prepared. Results also showed that among the group, the most informative or revealing issue was police and race relations.
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One student took to heart President Donald Trump's message to the far-right extremist group, the Proud Boys.
During the debate, President Trump said, "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I'll tell you what, somebody's gotta do something about antifa and the left, because this is not a right-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem."
One SJSU student shared, "He said quote, 'Stand by and stand back,' and I think that that's just really disturbing. And someone, you know, who can't represent all different people in our society should not be allowed to be president."
However, at the San Francisco Young Republicans (SFYR) in-person watch party, guests offered a different take.
SFYR President Adrienne Wincher told ABC7 News, "I definitely did like how Trump answered regarding to race."
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The president's approach was on par with what his supporters say they expected.
"As somebody who is a supporter of his, I think I was looking to see- not so much the president come out, but the guy who was the real estate developer and the brawler from Queens," San Francisco resident Trevor Goss shared. "And that's who we saw."
Those in the SJSU discussion instead felt, "It was unpleasant to say the least, on all fronts. And it definitely rubs me the wrong way when people treat other people the way Trump was treating Biden."
"It was almost like Trump was barking at Biden," another shared. "There was so many times that the moderator said, 'Can you please let me speak.'"
Back in San Francisco, President Trump supporter, Liz Davis told ABC7 News, "I think he should've let Biden speak a little bit more. I think we're gonna get a lot of push-back from the liberals on that one."
Over Zoom, one SJSU student told the group, "The way Trump's behavior was in the entire debate was just quite frankly disgusting."
"You saw behavior of a president, and that was courtesy of former Vice President Biden," a participant explained. "When he looked directly in the camera, he was talking to us."
However, many others said they're still not convinced the 90-minute debate did much to win their vote.
"How they spoke was just so disappointing to see," and SJSU student shared over Zoom. "And I can't believe that these are realistically my only choices to vote."
Tuesday's debate is the first of three scheduled.