Analysis: Election tide turns the day before voting begins
The MSU presidential debate on Monday, Jan. 27 marked the final opportunity for candidates to publicly present their case to voters and attempt to shift the balance.
No new promises were made, but the tone of the debate was more critical than last week's debate. While Brodka and Saull seemed to be frontrunners in the first debate on Thursday, Jan 23, some candidates emerged at Monday's debate as thoughtful and well-spoken contenders, particularly Russell.
Of all candidates, Russell looked the most comfortable in front of viewers and, by far, sounded the least scripted.
When asked who they think deserves second place, every candidate, except herself, said that Russell would get their vote if they weren’t running.
Though Russell was personable, she had very little time to answer questions about her own platform and explain to voters they ought to support it. Most of her time was spent questioning other candidates and handing them a chance to elaborate on their own platforms.
Russell stayed poised as all of the candidates went after the early leaders—Saull and Brodka. While candidates interrogated Saull and Brodka, Russell shone as likeable and fairly unopposed. She closed saying "I'm asking for your vote if maybe you haven't felt heard before, if maybe you've felt that your lens doesn't matter. I'm asking for your vote if you've ever felt like you needed more support."
Ali and Wolwowicz improve
Israa Ali and Jason Wolwowicz both had their work cut out for them after an underwhelming performances in the first debate.
Ali clearly presented herself as the non-status-quo candidate. She also drew on personal experience while talking to the audience and spoke about being overlooked and underestimated as a Muslim women who wears a Hijab.
"It was brought to my attention that, because I wear the Hijab, or this head scarf, I'm not as appealing to the student population as the rest of the candidates are, and I may not even win or have a chance," said Ali. "I am a student just like you and I have struggles just like you."
Her confidence showed improvement and she referenced her MSU experience more heavily than before.
Wolwowicz was a strong speaking presence in this debate and was able to remain concise. Wolwowicz, in this debate, showed himself as researched and smart but still held on to his theme of leaving big decisions up to the student body.
"Engaging the student community more is key. Students have fantastic ideas. The MSU really only sees success because of student ideas...Services were implemented because they were student ideas at some point," said Wolwowicz.
Brodka and Saull staying afloat
Saull remained relatively likeable but did not improve much from the first debate and Brodka kept his remarks vague and wordy, trying to keep his reputation as the knowledgeable candidate.
Brodka and Saull politely battled each other for most of the debate, attempting to poke holes in the other’s platform. Neither of them was more impressive than the other and they both neglected to opportunity to criticize Russell or make any meaningful pleas to voters.
Brodka attacked Saull's off-campus security plan, citing redundancies or possible lack of demand.
"I just have a lot of questions about a variety of sub-points... if there's a demand for this," said Brodka. "For example, 'an increased police presence.' I know the University already pays up to $200,000* on specialized policing surrounding the University, so I just have a lot of questions."
Saull, again, was critical of Brodka's freedom credit point, saying it hadn't been researched properly.
"You had a consultation with a Dean, who said it worked. If you call a Dean and ask how his pilot project went, I think that that would be a biased sample," said Saull.
It seemed as though they were each just trying to hold on.
Online voting opened Tuesday, Jan. 28 at 9 a.m. and will close on Thursday, Jan. 30 at 5 p.m. Students eligible to vote are registered in 18 units or more and should receive a code to vote at mcmaster.simplyvoting.com.
*number clarified later on Twitter