What did young voters get from the VP debate? More questions, for starters

A Longwood University student outside the debate.

Kay Lee has yet to decide who she’s voting for this November. And the vice presidential debate held at her school, Longwood University, didn’t make her choice any easier.

“It’s hard to formulate an opinion based on the debate because they both focused on slandering each other instead of voicing their own plans,” Lee said.

Lee, a senior at Longwood, watched the debate with a group of other students. Some of the issues raised in the debate, she said, did matter to her and other young voters.

“Women my age care a lot about abortion,” Lee said. “The consensus in the room I was in was that people want to be able to control their own bodies, and Kaine’s comments really spoke to that and got a positive reaction.”

Taylor Hogg, another senior, was also impressed with Kaine’s views on the issue. “Kaine said he has faith in American women, that we can make our own decisions about our bodies, and I really appreciated that. I personally feel abortion shouldn’t be controlled by the government.”

Charles Opoku-Amoako, a junior at Longwood, was looking to the debate to clear up some of his concerns. “It didn’t do much to sway my vote, but it did put more question marks for both sides,” Opoku-Amoako said.

“I’m planning to vote for Clinton, but I wanted to hear more about her emails to challenge my vote to see if I’m voting for the right person.”

READ MORE: Millennials have to wonder: Have baby boomers ruined everything?

Signs outside Longwood University's debate hall.

Longwood University decorated for Tuesday's VP debate.


Anna Waters

Chris Cromwell came away with just the information he needed — confirmation that he didn’t like either of the major party candidates. He’s a junior at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and traveled to Longwood University for the debate.

Cromwell found both sides frustrating on foreign policy because “both Pence and Kaine supported going into foreign wars, which is something I’m not okay with unless America is under attack.”

He also wished the drug war had come up during the debate, because he believes it is an integral part of entrenching some Americans in poverty and the criminal justice system.

“I have no idea what either side thinks about the drug war,” Cromwell says. “They never talk about it, but it’s a priority for [Gary] Johnson.” And like many younger millennials, Cromwell is considering giving the Libertarian candidate his first vote.

READ MORE: Here’s why young adults want third party candidates in the presidential debates

Editor’s Note: This story was produced by Washington Program reporters from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. For more of PRI's UnConvention election coverage, click here

Join us for a week of The UnConvention events in New York City from October 17-21, exploring the issues and views of millennials, in partnership with 92Y and Mic.

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