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Centre College Site of Gubernatorial Debate on Tuesday

J. Tyler Franklin/Louisville Public Media

  The race for Kentucky governor will be decided in just over a month. Two of the three candidates will take center stage during a debate Tuesday night.

Democrat Jack Conway and Republican Matt Bevin will participate in an hour-long debate at Centre College.  Centre Assistant Professor of Politics Benjamin Knoll says debates typically do not sway allegiance.  “Because the type of people who spend an hour of their night on a Tuesday night to tune in to watch are the types of people who are already interested and likely already have a preference,”  said Knoll.

But, Knoll says there’s typically a smaller group watching and trying to determine who to vote for.  The third candidate in the race, Independent Drew Curtis, was not invited to participate.  Centre Spokesman Michael Strysick says Curtis has not met the qualifying polling threshold of 15 percent.

Knoll says recent polling seems to indicate Curtis is impacting his opponents’ campaigns equally.  “I didn’t see any evidence that the Drew Curtis supporters would likely be primarily for Conway or primarily for Bevin, but rather they were pulling from about each," said Knoll.  "So, if he’s pulling from both of them, it suggests that it will even out and not really give an advantage or disadvantage to one of the two party candidates one way or another.”   

Knoll says voter fatigue could play a role in voter turnout for the upcoming election.   Benjamin Knoll says some countries only schedule elections once every four years.  “One political science finding that could help get higher turnout is simply to move the elections so that there all concurrently in the same year,” said Knoll.  “ Perhaps move the statewide gubernatorial elections to either the mid-term or presidential election years to take advantage of that existing interest that is already there for those other elections.”

Knoll says that wouldn’t mean gathering up all local and state elections on one day every four years. 

Stu Johnson is a reporter/producer at WEKU in Lexington, Kentucky.
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