UVa Students: More Apathy, Less Energy in 2012 Campaign

October 22, 2012

As the third presidential debate got underway Monday night, some University of Virginia students said they had no interest in watching, while others said they did want to hear what the candidates had to say about foreign policy.

The college vote was critical in 2008 when Barack Obama won a historic presidential election, but where did that energy go?

"Interest and excitement around this election is a little bit down versus 2008," said Philip Williamson, a third-year student at the University of Virginia School of Law.

"Some people maybe think that their vote's not going to count, that something's automatically going to happen," said Lindsay Sackellares, a second-year foreign affairs student at UVa.

At an August rally in Charlottesville geared toward college students, attendance to see the president speak was a few thousand less than his previous trip to town in 2010.

"I think from the liberal side, you don't want Romney, but Obama didn't do everything in the way he said he was going to, which is expected but still disappointing," said UVa. third-year foreign affairs student Katlyn Alley.

Monday's debate at Lynn University centered around foreign policy, a topic that might not resonate with many college students.

"It's an issue they should care about, but I'd venture to say probably not as high on their radar as things like, 'Am I going to have a job when I get out of school?' Williamson said.

"I don't think I'm going to be amazed by anything they say in the debate, but it's still probably the most important part," Alley said.

Students say the political vibes aren't as strong now as they were four years ago, but that's not to say there's no action on grounds.

"People are definitely very discussion-based here. It's not a lot of protest. It's not a lot of loud demonstration," Sackellares said. "People just want to engage and find out what other students think."

Students also point out that this is the first presidential election in which many students will be able to cast a vote, generating some excitement around the university.

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