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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.

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.”

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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 or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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