Photos by Stephanie Rivera.
As millions of Americans were glued to their screens for the third and final presidential debate Wednesday evening, nearly 100 people gathered at the Edwards Long Beach Stadium 26 & IMAX movie theater for a live streaming of the verbal sparring.
At times, the words exchanged between presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump drew loud scoffs and laughs from the crowd, creating the feeling that guests were sitting in on a rom-com or slapstick comedy feature film.
Also noteworthy was the security and staff presence during the debate, an added feature after a group of men attended the second debate with alcohol and then shouted expletives against Trump, before they were escorted out.
While [some memorable] remarks from each candidate brought upon cheers and applauses from supporters on both sides, the crowd was mostly made up of Clinton backers. And it didn’t seem like any were on the fence between the two candidates.
“I’ve been pretty resolute throughout,” said Los Angeles resident Dave Luzier about his candidate choice.
Luzier said he’s never voted before in any election because—as someone who’s always lived in blue states—he didn't think it made much of a difference before. This time, however, he’s voting on principle and to let everyone know that he wasn't in support of Trump.
“If he get’s elected, I want them to at least know I said no in a small way,” Luzier said. “The idea that he could be the leader of the country is such an affront to me.”
Luzier said while he would prefer Bernie Sanders, he feels Clinton is at least a qualified, “legitimate” candidate.
“She wouldn't be my first choice or my second choice but she’s kind of the only choice in this one,” Luzier said. “There’s no way a third party is going to get it. There's no way I want him to get it. So yeah she's kind of the only option.”
Erin Douglas, who enjoyed the debate (with popcorn and a drink) alongside Luzier said, if anything, the debate made her like Clinton more.
“It’s kind of sad that it plays like an SNL skit,” Douglas said referring to the debate.
Long Beach residents Lisa and Megan came out of the theater impressed with Clinton’s performance.
“We were very impressed by Hillary’s performance; I think she nailed it right there,” Megan said. “I think she said everything she needed to say and I think he just went on with his same rhetoric.”
Megan, who brought her 15-year-old son to watch the debate, said she has always been involved in elections, but felt this season was different.
“I’ve never seen an election like this—that's this important—and I love Bernie Sanders and I understand the third party feeling, but this election is just too important,” Megan said. “Even if you have a problem with Hillary personally, it's just too important this time.”
Lisa said as a mother of a 30-year-old gay son and the sister of a gay woman, as well as the aunt of black nephews, she is concerned for the potential climate under Trump.
“I’m appalled and horrified at the things that Donald Trump has said in regard to the LGBT community, in regard to the black community, with the things he continues to say,” Lisa said. “I don't think he’s good.”
Last night’s debate drew in 71.6 million viewers, according to the Hollywood Reporter, surpassing the 69 million viewers that tuned in for the second debate a few weeks ago.
Now that the debates are over, voters will be left with their choices, come Election Day (Tuesday, November 8). To register or view your voter registration status in Los Angeles County, click here.