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Indiana Governor Debates Can Have Impact, Despite So Many Early Voters

Due to COVID-19 precautions, Indiana's gubernatorial candidates were in the same building for their debate, but each in separate rooms.

Due to COVID-19 precautions, Indiana's gubernatorial candidates were in the same building for their debate, but each in separate rooms. (Darron Cummings/Associated Press)

It’s likely more than 1 million Hoosiers will have voted before the second of two gubernatorial debates takes place Tuesday – and some question whether those debates can still have an impact because of their late date.

But University of Indianapolis political scientist Laura Wilson said Hoosier gubernatorial debates can be quite useful, particularly because – unlike most states – Indiana elects its governor the same time as president, meaning that race can get drowned out by national politics.

“They genuinely educate voters on who’s running for these positions and the differences," Wilson said. "We certainly saw that in the first debate for the governor’s race because you saw really a difference between all three candidates, in every position.”

READ MORE: Can I Vote By Mail? Here's What You Need To Know For Indiana's Elections

Wilson also said the debates aren’t hurt by how late they are on the calendar, given the nature of those who’ve already cast their ballots by the time the candidates square off.

“When you look at your average early voter, they do tend to feel very informed and very confident with their decisions,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the debates can be a huge benefit to undecided voters.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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