ATLANTA — The only confirmed debate between Senator Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker, comes just days before the start of early voting, but political experts said it could still have a major impact on the race.
Sen. Warnock and Walker will face off on Friday night. Early voting begins Monday. Most of the recent polls show Warnock ahead but only by a slim margin.
Emory Political Science professor Andra Gillespie said while most people have already made up their minds over who to vote for in the race, there is a small group of undecided voters.
“It’s small, but in a race where the margin is expected to be small that could be the difference between winning and losing the election,” Gillespie explained.
History reveals that there have been debates that have changed the trajectory of a political race. In 1960, the first televised Presidential debate pushed a poised, confident Sen. John Kennedy past Vice President Richard Nixon, who’d been considered the favorite before the debate.
HOW TO WATCH: Warnock-Walker debate in Savannah
A mistake by President Gerald Ford cost him during his 1976 debate with Georgia’s Jimmy Carter.
“He said something about Poland having never been within the Soviet sphere,” said UGA Political Science professor Dr. Charles Bullock. “But how can you say that? I mean they had the Soviet Army there for decades.”
Dr. Bullock added that an error by any one of the candidates during the debate could have a major impact that lasts beyond debate night.
“That’s what is going to then become a news story that will reach a much larger audience than is likely to actually watch this live,” said Bullock.
Polls show only one to two percent of likely voters are undecided.
“They’re going to need every voter they possibly can get in order to be able to win,” said Gillespie. “The information that is gleaned from this debate could actually be pretty decisive.”
Nextstar Media Inc. stations in Columbus, Augusta and the NBC-affiliate station WSAV in Savannah will air the Oct. 14 debate live at 7 p.m.