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Voters In Battleground State Of Florida React To Democratic Debate


So what about voters? How did they hear all this in the key battleground state of Florida? There were hundreds of young voters hanging out in a bar in Miami to watch the debate. Jessica Bakeman from member station WLRN was there, too.

JESSICA BAKEMAN, BYLINE: At 9 o'clock on Thursdays, the outdoor stage at Gramps is usually graced by drag queens. But this week, there was different entertainment at the popular bar in Miami's trendy Wynwood neighborhood. A diverse crowd of several hundred young people faced a big screen suspended in front of the stage to see the debate taking place live just a mile and a half away.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Live from the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center of Miami, Fla...


BAKEMAN: Bernie Sanders was the clear favorite going in judging by the T-shirts, signs, even giant cut-outs of his head.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Bernie, Bernie.

BAKEMAN: But some of his fans were disappointed.

CHRISTINE MONTERO: I wished Bernie was a little bit more assertive and perhaps rude maybe and butt in a little more to get airtime.

BAKEMAN: Christine Montero is running to be on the steering committee of the Democratic Socialists of America's Miami chapter. She came in set on Sanders, but now she's considering Kamala Harris or maybe another candidate.

MONTERO: Ultimately, it's about Bernie or someone else. I'm still unsure who that someone else is that may or may not kind of steal my heart.

BAKEMAN: James Lopez says he still supports Sanders, but he thought the Vermont senator didn't sound as sharp as usual.

JAMES LOPEZ: He doesn't really sound good on issues about race, about LGBTQ folks. He just sounds really dated. Although he does have the passion there, I think he's not going to connect with folks who aren't thinking about economic issues at the forefront.

BAKEMAN: Lopez says the format of the debate made it hard to discern between the 20 candidates. At 11, the debate was over.

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: We have a drag show. Are y'all ready for a drag show?


BAKEMAN: And the show had to go on.

For NPR News, I'm Jessica Bakeman in Miami.


Jessica Bakeman reports on K-12 and higher education for WLRN, south Florida's NPR affiliate. While new to Miami and public radio, Jessica is a seasoned journalist who has covered education policymaking and politics in three state capitals: Jackson, Miss.; Albany, N.Y.; and, most recently, Tallahassee.