By Ben Pontz, Events Coverage Coordinator, The Gettysburgian
Joseph Theater could barely contain the excitement in the room. By the 7:30 p.m. start time, there were few open seats at the Eisenhower Institute’s first panel of the year, titled “Policy or Personality: The Key to Swing Voters,” which was held Tuesday, Oct. 4. Featuring three panelists from the world of politics, an hour long panel discussion was followed by a half-hour question and answer session on issues pertaining to the upcoming election.
The panelists were: Alexis Simendinger, an experienced Washington journalist presently serving as the White House Correspondent for RealClearPolitics, who shared her experiences covering the past several presidential administrations and called this “an election unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”
John Baer, a political columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News who has won numerous statewide and national awards for political journalism. He provided insight on campaign strategy, the news cycle and political polarization.
Kat Atwater, a 2007 Gettysburg alumna who serves as the chief of staff of BlueLabs, a firm that focuses on polling, fundraising and communication. She discussed issues that drive voters to the polls, turnout and political advertisements.
The panel was conducted “off the record” to allow panelists to speak more freely about issues pertaining to the upcoming election and share uncensored opinions. Two Fielding Fellows, seniors Mariam Aghayan and Taylor Beck, moderated the discussion and the ensuing question and answer session. Topics of discussion included the enthusiasm gap between supporters of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the perception that Clinton’s election is inevitable and how that can hurt her and the potential for a close election decided by voter turnout. First-year Elay Echavarria said of the panel, “I definitely was introduced to some new ideas I wasn’t thinking about before, particularly when they were talking about whether this would be a high voter turnout or low voter turnout election.”
At about 8:50 the discussion was promptly adjourned to allow the political junkies in the room to go watch the vice presidential debate.
This article originally appeared in The Gettysburgian on October 8, 2016. Reprinted with permission; click to view the original article.