MINNEAPOLIS - About eight hours before the first presidential debate was scheduled, U of M Political Science Professor Larry Jacobs weighed in on the magnitude of the prime time TV event. "Tonight is big time. The Presidency of the United States of America is at stake," he explained.
While most political pundits were focused on the issues of the nation's budget and economy, we wondered who the candidates would most likely be addressing. "They're going to be putting out their messages aimed at particular parts of the electorate. Youth and women," Jacobs said.
"Big question is whether the audiences Romney and Obama are talking to will actually be listening," Jacobs mused before adding "we're likely going to see huge numbers of Americans, perhaps 60 million or more tuning in."
We went to the U of M campus to check in with the youth vote. We conducted a very short, very un-thorough, and very unscientific poll. We talked to 9 students. 5 said they were definitely going to watch, 2 said they had no intention of taking the debate in, and 2 wondered if they could squeeze it in between work and homework. We'll say 66% promised to make politics their number 1 priority tonight.
As for women, we briefly chatted up 5 at the Mall of America. Of the 2 who said they won't watch, one explained she was on vacation, the other simply said "I don't follow politics." So 40% said no and 60% (or 3) told us they had plans to check it out. One respondent said she had already picked her candidate and was a bit sick of the rhetoric, but she'd tune in for "entertainment."
Jacobs said aside from the 2 candidates trying their best to look presidential and appeal to women and younger voters, they were also likely to make some sort of a pitch to Hispanic voters.
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