Presidential Debate-Watch Parties: Cheers, Jeers but Minds Unchanged

Oct 4, 2012 1:10pm

 

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Undecided voters watch the first presidential debate at a home in Arlington, Va., Oct. 3, 2012. Image credit: Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Supporters of President Obama and Mitt Romney gathered Wednesday night at  debate watch parties across the country, cheering on their favored candidate and booing, sometimes hissing, when the other side spoke.

But the one thing most debate watch participants could agree on was that Republican candidate Mitt Romney was more forceful when it came to attacking the policies of his opponent.

“I think that Romney came in the underdog, and he was so aggressive that he brought himself up to a level playing field with Obama,” said Lynne Oropeza, who was joined by 20 fellow Obama supporters for a watch party at her Los Angeles home. “I think Obama came in the winner and left in a tie.”

Oropeza’s watch party was one of more than 4,000 the Obama campaign had organized across the country. The Romney camp held 336 watch parties in 12 states, including a large gathering at Romney’s campaign office in Arlington, Va.

The crowd at Oropeza’s was especially close, gathered around a small television in her bedroom because of a failed Direct TV box wired to her big screen.

But the cramped  setting didn’t keep supporters from yelling at the 20-inch screen, nor did it limit reaction to Romney’s statement that he might  ”stop the subsidy to PBS,” even though he “liked Big Bird” and debate moderator Jim Lehrer, also of PBS.

 ”You’re getting weird Romney,” said one viewer. At other times during the 90-minute debate, shouts of “fact-check” emanated from Oropeza’s bedroom.

“It’s extremely interesting to me that someone can stand up there and spout half truths and lies but still come off as a strong candidates,” said Amber Limpsey, as she tried to down dinner while watching the debate on West Coast time.

“I’m surprised Obama didn’t want to bring up Romney’s 47 percent comment,” said Limpsey.

And she certainly wasn’t the only Obama supporter surprised by that omission. On the other side of the country in New York , real estate agent Jason Haber, who’d joined about 200 people, mostly Democrats at Blondies bar on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, said, “He never attacked Gov. Romney on key points.”

 ”I would say Romney won just basically because the main topic was the economy,” said Eric Mullis, an undecided voter from Jasper, Ind., who attended a nonpartisan watch party at 201 Bar in Washington, D.C.  ”He made a better issue of how the government should work with business to encourage job growth and cut the deficit.”

But Mullis, who was one of a few hundred at 201 Bar, said he’s still undecided, believing that Obama’s ability to connect with what people are going through came across well.

Even though most people who’d gathered to watch the debate believed Romney delivered the stronger performance, that still wasn’t enough to change their vote, they said.

“I wish Obama had been a little more aggressive,” said Nick Prigo of New York. “That being said, I don’t think this is going to change much at the national level. There’s such a small sliver of people who are undecided at this point.”

 ABC News’ Jennifer Harrison and Daniel Steinberger contributed to this report.

 

 

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