SPRINGFIELD – It was clear last night at the debate between Sen. Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren that the crowd, both inside and outside of Symphony Hall, favored Warren.
After her closing remarks, Warren received loud applause from the 2,600 in attendance with a scattered few giving her a standing ovation.
“I thought the crowd was supportive of Warren, quite a bit more so than Brown,” said Jason Roche, a University of Massachusetts junior that was in attendance Wednesday night.
Danillo Sena, a senior at UMass, agreed.
“Warren had a bigger crowd here in Springfield,” he said.
Despite an early plea from moderator Jim Madigin for the crowd to remain quiet during the debate so that Brown and Warren could use as much of the allotted one hour block as possible, the crowd frequently vocalized its support for Warren, the Harvard Law School professor.
At one point, the noise grew so loud that a woman stood up, turned around, and slapped the man behind her, according to a WWLP-22News report.
The audience cheered Warren at several points during the debate, including when she talked about her support for the Affordable Health Care Act, as well as her stance on women’s rights.
The crowd also defended her when Brown told Warren to “put down the hammer,” earning him loud boos from the audience.
But that’s not to say the crowd was devoid of Brown supporters. Even as people cheered Warren’s support of the Affordable Health Care Act, others in the crowd were booing her.
“I was really surprised at the atmosphere of the debate,” said UMass student Chandler Hall. “I was expecting it to be just a little more respectful. It definitely shocked me, the unwarranted participation of the crowd.”
During the debate, the candidates were asked questions on topics ranging from their definition of the middle class to foreign policy.
Hall, a junior, said that he was pleased with the selection.
“I think everything relevant to the election was being asked,” he said.
Hall also said that since this is the first general and senatorial election he can vote in, he feels it is important to be informed.
“It is definitely important to me to make an informed decision rather than a biased one,” Hall said.
Two hours before the debate started, the side of Court Street opposite of Symphony Hall was lined with Warren and Brown supporters who were blowing whistles and clanging noisemakers.
Linda Reilly was one of the people who came out to support Brown, despite the chill and the dark sky that threatened rain.
“I came here to support Scott Brown because I think he is a very independent thinker,” Reilly said. “He’s not a pawn. I want someone who is not going to be tied to the party, you know vote on the issues, not the party.”
Charles Payne stood blowing an orange whistle and sporting a large Warren sign mounted on a two-by-four.
“I think Elizabeth Warren is the better candidate,” Payne said.
He noted that he thinks Brown has been misleading when he talks about his support for the middle class. ”He hasn’t done a thing for the middle class,” Payne said.
The debate, Hall said, was a draw, saying that he thought both candidates did well on different points.
While Roche, a political science major, thought the debate was close – noting that he thought Brown did a better job than Warren while talking about the economy – he thought that Warren came out on top.
“I wouldn’t say there was a clear winner, but I think that Warren might have ended with a little more of an upper hand,” Roche said.
Katie Landeck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.