As Hofstra Prepares for Debate, Candidates Look to Woo Many Undecided Student Voters

What to Know

  • Many students at Hofstra University said they're still undecided about who they'll choose for president in November
  • The Long Island college hosts the first debate Monday in what has been a raucous presidential race
  • Clinton and Trump hope to get past their record low favorability ratings and woo undecided voters at the debate

Security was tightening and suspense was building at Hofstra University out on Long Island Sunday night. Many students say they're still trying to decide who to vote for and that a debate here on Monday will be a major factor in their final choice. 

Hofstra is hosting the first debate in a presidential race that has been one of the most sensational and unpredictable in years. 

“Everyone’s excited to have such a big event happen on our campus,” student Brianna Fuccillo said.

The energy was palpable in the crisp September air on Sunday ahead of the Monday night debate in Hempstead. Political messages were spilling out of dormitory windows and the debate-related merchandise is already sold out.

“Long Island and Hofstra are going to be the center of the universe tomorrow, probably 100 million people watching,” Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said. “Absolutely fantastic.”

The most intense studying on Sunday seemed to be off campus: Hillary Clinton hunkered down for the third straight day in a Westchester hotel doing debate prep before taking a diplomatic diversion.

Clinton and Trump met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss shared security concerns after a week when terror hit the tri-state area.

The candidates’ answers on the subject of security are of particular interest to Hofstra freshman Dempsey Goodale.

“I’m very excited to see it, because I’m personally still undecided about who I support. This debate is going to be really influential about who I pick,” Goodale said.

In a Hofstra dining hall Sunday, a group of freshmen will be voting for the first time. Most of them are undecided. They are the voters who the nominees will be targeting Monday night.

“I’m a little in between, but probably more towards Hillary than Trump,” Ashley Smetana said. “I’m just not a very big fan of Trump’s personality and how he has handled different situations throughout this debate and election.”

“I don’t really want a politician, so I like Donald Trump,” Lauren Lacy said. “But I don’t like what he stands for. I’m also a Democrat, so I like Hillary, but I don’t really trust where she stands because she’s kind of a little shady.”

“Yes, he’s very outspoken, but at least he’s honest about his policies and the way he wants to move forward with this country,” Alisha Patel said of Trump. 

As many as 100 million viewers may turn in for Monday’s debate, but it’s those undecided voters who really matter for the candidates on stage.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have one thing in common going into the debate: they’re trying to lesson their high unfavorability ratings. Trump needs to send presidential vibes and Clinton needs to channel approachability and trustworthiness.

Contact Us