Politics

USC students watch final debate but some remain undecided

A USC student takes a photo of fellow students and faculty during the third presidential debate at USC Annenberg's Wallis Annenberg Hall on Oct. 19, 2016.
A USC student takes a photo of fellow students and faculty during the third presidential debate at USC Annenberg's Wallis Annenberg Hall on Oct. 19, 2016.
Brett Van Ort/USC Annenberg

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About 100 young voters from across the USC campus gathered to watch Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton face off against her GOP opponent Donald Trump Wednesday night.

But if the candidates hoped their third and final presidential debate would sway voters to their side, they missed its mark with some in the audience.

Students gathered in front of a giant TV screen showing the debate in Annenberg Hall. Most of them clapped for Clinton, but there were a few Trump supporters in the room, too. Yet, when KPCC asked around after the event, it was clear not all had settled on a candidate.

Several young people said they felt so disillusioned with Clinton and Trump they couldn't choose whom to vote for.

Luke Holthouse, a senior public policy and journalism student, was among the undecideds.

“I have significant reservations about supporting the Clinton aristocracy," he said. "Trump, he is a bad person. I don’t trust him."

Holthouse said he’ll probably make up his mind when he finally gets to his polling place on Nov. 8.

A few millennials plan to completely abstain from voting for president — people like Mary Perez, vice president of the College Republicans at USC.

“I won’t be voting for Donald Trump because I don’t believe he supports the conservative message and the principles that I believe," Perez said.

She was equally adamant against voting for Clinton. "She’s morally and ethically against my principles," she said.

Some students said they’ll sidestep the presidential race and vote instead for measures and candidates down the ballot.

"This might be silly, but I think it’s like a moral issue to try to defend either of them who have both done either corrupt things or talked about women wrongly," said Rachel Udabe, a junior studying political science and political policy.

According to the Pew Research Center, millennials and Generation Xers now make up the majority of the nation's eligible voters. Their strength in numbers could show itself in this year's election.

But while many young people are politically active, millennials are significantly less likely to vote or try to influence others' vote compared to the ’80s generation or the first wave of baby boomers, according to Russell Dalton, a University of California, Irvine, professor writing in The Washington Post.