First fall presidential debate is pivotal in race to White House, expert says

Eric Stann / Mitchell S. McKinney

With less than two months to go before Election Day, polls are showing a tight race between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. How these candidates perform on Sept. 29, the first of three scheduled debates this fall, will be pivotal in determining the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, said presidential debate expert Mitchell S. McKinney, director of the Political Communication Institute at the University of Missouri.

McKinney’s experience includes serving as a staff member in both the U.S. Senate and the White House, consulting with the Commission on Presidential Debates on the development of the “town hall” debate format and how debates can be structured in order to better educate citizens on significant campaign issues.

Based on his previous analysis, McKinney notes two conditions are needed for debates to influence the outcome of an election: a tight race and a sufficient number of undecided or not firmly committed voters.

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