‘I have this desire to vote, but the choices ... don’t suit what I think’

William Thornton, left, and Christopher Pena talk about their impressions of the debate Wednesday evening at Boise State University.
William Thornton, left, and Christopher Pena talk about their impressions of the debate Wednesday evening at Boise State University. bmanny@idahostatesman.com

Chris Pena used one word over and over as he watched Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton go at each other during Wednesday’s debate, the final of three this election season: childish.

As Trump fussed about the possibility of a rigged election, Pena, a 26-year-old Boise State University engineering student, said complaining now was childish.

But so was Clinton’s poke at Trump about his use of imported steel in his buildings.

Pena came into the debate hoping to make up his mind for the Nov. 8 vote. It didn’t happen.

“I feel I am still in the same spot,” Pena said.

So is William Thornton, 38, another undecided voter who agreed to share his debate-watching experience with the Statesman.

If who to vote for is a dilemma for him, voting itself is not. As the debate got going, the Boise native said he hoped to resolve “an internal conflict.”

“I have this desire to vote, but the choices that are available don’t suit what I think, what I believe, the way I treat other people, a whole list of things that I haven’t really sat down to put into words.”

Thornton, an engineering trainee with a Ph. D. in architecture and urban design, came in with low expectations.

“I pretty much expected the same thing that I’ve been reading about and hearing about,” he said.

Is that what he got Wednesday night? “Pretty much.”

Pena and Thornton watched the debate with a Boise State audience, reporters at their elbows. According to an informal poll as the evening began, they were about the only undecided voters in the room.

“I don’t know what to think about that one,” Thornton said when Trump spoke about building a wall on the border with Mexico.

And soon after, when the two candidates started talking over each other: “It didn’t take long for the mud to start slinging, huh?”

Clinton’s jab at Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” line didn’t faze him. That was Trump’s job at the time, Thornton said.

Was there one line he would remember from either candidate?

“Probably not.”

While few undecided voters were present at this Boise State University watch party, panelist and BSU political scientist Jaclyn Kettler says the major party candidates still lack appeal for some voters.

Both undecided voters were disappointed by discussion of the economy.

Trump pushed creating jobs. “He didn’t give any clear plan how to do that and kind of shot down what Hillary was saying. It was just a lot of pointing fingers,” Pena said.

“To me it just seems that they’re trying to compare apples and oranges,” Thornton said as moderator Chris Wallace wrapped up that set of questions.

While time is growing short, Pena said he won’t sit this election out because of indecision.

“I will definitely vote,” he said.

So will Thornton. He’s just still not sure for whom.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton met for their final debate at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on Wednesday. They each made their arguments on issues of the Supreme Court, immigration, foreign affairs, and presidential fitness. All the while,

Bill Roberts: 208-377-6408, @IDS_BillRoberts Bill Dentzer: 208-377-6438, @IDSBillD