A month before the election, the major party candidates in New Jersey’s race for governor hold their first debate tomorrow night at the Performing Arts Center in Newark.
They’ll meet again next week in Wayne.
Fairleigh Dickinson political science professor Peter Woolley expects the debates won’t attract enough voter interest to influence the outcome of the election.
“I don’t think the debates have any kind of generalized effect. It may be a little chatter for a few days afterward. Unless somebody gets up there and shows themselves to be blatantly incompetent, it has very little effect.”
Seton Hall political science professor Matthew Hale says even though he doesn’t expect a large number of voters will tune into the debate, it could make a difference.
“The power of debates is not necessary the number of people that watch them. It’s the number of people that talk about them the next day. If something dramatic happens, if there’s a big zinger, a fantastic point, or a big fall down, that’s what’s going to get talked about around the water cooler the next day at work. And that’s really where it could have an effect.”
Monmouth University Polling Institute Director Patrick Murray believes it’s unlikely the debate will erase Democrat Phil Murphy’s 14-point lead over Republican Kim Guadagno by election day.
“Very few voters are really undecided at this point who are actually going to show. In our last poll about 9 percent of likely voters were undecided. That’s not going to be enough for Guadagno to make up the gap.”