Razmig Khayalian and Matthew Struhar gathered at UC Davis’ King Hall with other law and poly-sci students to watch Wednesday’s presidential debate. There, they used a new smartphone app from React Labs created by political scientists from UC Davis and the University of Arkansas with a computer linguist from the University of Maryland. The app allowed students to agree or disagree with comments or to label them a spin or a dodge.
According to UCD Prof. Amber Boydstun, of the 3,767 students who participated at campuses across the country, 52 percent said Republican challenger Mitt Romney won the debate — that despite 60 percent of participants saying they plan to vote for President Obama and 56 percent describing themselves as Democrats. Romney did better with the 11 percent who said they were undecided. An initial examination of the data showed that most participants agreed with Obama during the debate and were split on Romney.
Obama scored best with students when discussing eliminating corporate tax breaks. He did worst when he claimed to have kept his campaign promise to fight for the middle class. Romney, meanwhile, received his best response with his comments about promoting energy independence and trade to boost the economy — yet participants most disliked his energy policy positions, like his support of the Keystone oil pipeline from Canada.