Undecided voters tune in to first presidential debate

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 | 11:08 p.m. CDT; updated 11:59 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 3, 2012

COLUMBIA — Undecided voters who tuned in to the first presidential debate spoke to the Missourian about their thoughts on Wednesday evening's debate.

Last week, a handful of local undecided voters said they were still looking for information before choosing who to cast their vote for in November. Most said they were looking forward to the first presidential debate Wednesday evening to see if either candidate would say anything to sway their vote.

The debate between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney took place at the University of Denver and focused on domestic policy and the economy. It was moderated by MU journalism graduate Jim Lehrer and lasted just over the scheduled 90 minutes.

Adam Olson, an MU freshman who was leaning toward voting for Obama before the debate, said he watched the debate and learned more about Romney and his specific plans.

"I thought it was pretty good and useful," he said. “I think I’m still leaning toward Obama. I didn't like Romney’s education plan and how he’s going to fund it. I thought Obama's plan was much more suitable for the times right now.”

For Dorothy Kyger, a volunteer at the Columbia Area Senior Center, the debate definitely "reinforced her values."

"Romney wants to get rid of the (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), but he didn't really specifically say anything other than he would turn it over to the states for them to make their own policies," Kyger said.

Kyger added, however, that she thought Romney outperformed Obama vocally.

"    "Romney has a method of getting in the last word," she said. "It seems like he was stronger vocally than the president was.”

      Kyger said she would read newspapers Thursday to see who experts thought won the debate.

      Tierra Hutt, a 26-year-old mother of two, said the debate did sway her decision and that she intends to vote for Obama now. She said she did not like what Romney had to say about the deficit, tax deductions and Medicare.

She added, however, that the debate was not "the final nail in the coffin" because she is waiting for the vice presidential debates. She said the highlight of the debate was seeing the candidates actually agree on certain things.

"I’ve never seen that in a presidential debate, where two candidates come together and they actually have agreements on some things," she said.

Undecided voters have two more debates between Obama and Romney to look forward to, scheduled for Oct. 16 and Oct. 22. The vice presidential debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., is scheduled for Oct. 11.

According to RealClearPolitics, Obama had a projected edge with 49.1 percent of presidential voters to Romney's 46 percent before the debate. The polling data on the presidential race came from an average of eight separate surveys, with an average margin of error of just over 3 percent.

Supervising editor is Zach Murdock.

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