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Penn College Republicans hosted their debate watch party at Smokey Joe's.

Credit: Jess Katz

Major television events often call for watch parties, and tonight's presidential debate was no exception.

Several student groups of varying political interests and affiliations at Penn hosted viewing parties tonight. Penn for Hillary and Penn Democrats teamed up to throw a party at the Fiji Chapter House, while Penn College Republicans hosted theirs at Smokey Joe's.

Despite the opposing political affiliations, both events had similar motifs with some students chatting on the side about politics, some glued to the television screens and others laughing at comments made by both candidates.

At the Democrats' party, the debate was projected onto a large screen in a common room, which was packed with students. Before the debate began, the room was abuzz with small talk and political discussion. Much of the chattering in the house stopped as the candidates walked onto the stage. Occasionally, attendees would break the silence to snap in approval of comments made by Hillary Clinton or to laugh when she made jabs at Donald Trump.

Early in the night, Democratic Penn students seemed optimistic about what was to come in the debate.

"I'm expecting Hillary to kill it," College sophomore and Political Director of Penn Democrats Rachel Pomerantz said. "She's qualified. She knows what she's talking about."

Engineering junior and Executive Director of Political Affairs of Penn for Hillary Michael Ramdatt also said he felt that Clinton is well-versed in her stances on policy, but he also hoped that she would come across as more authentic in this debate.

"I want her to introduce herself to the country in a very authentic way," he said. "I'm looking for people to get a refined view of who Hillary Clinton is and what she stands for."

At the Republicans' party, students sat in small groups at individual tables to watch the debate. Several in attendance also meandered around the bar, mingling with friends and commenting on the candidates' points.  

Just like at the Democrats' party, the Republican students also laughed at various comments made by Trump.

Grayson Sessa, a Wharton senior, was not thrilled by Trump's performance in the debate.

"He could have presented himself in a better way," he said.

Penn was not the only place where the debate found a large audience. According to a poll released today by Monmouth University Poll, 75 percent of voters were expected to tune in to tonight's debate.

Despite this large turnout, very few voters expected the debate to affect their decision regarding who to vote for. The poll also found that Hillary Clinton had only a four point lead over Donald Trump going into the debate, down from the seven point lead she had last month.

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