Watch the entirety of Ohio’s U.S. Senate debate in the player above. Below is an archived story previewing the debate.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The first and only statewide debate between U.S. Senate candidates JD Vance and Tim Ryan is set for Monday night.
Whoever wins in November will fill outgoing Sen. Rob Portman’s seat.
Political analysts said they are looking forward to the fact this will be an opportunity to watch these two candidates in a setting other than a political ad or campaign speech.
“We’re finally getting to see them debate and that’s always good for people to see a debate,” said Otterbein University professor of communication Susan Millsap.
Monday’s debate, with NBC4’s Colleen Marshall as one of the moderators, will take place in Cleveland.
A September poll by NBC4/Emerson College/The Hill had Republican Vance leading Democrat Ryan, 44 to 40 percent, with 13 percent undecided. But the majority of independent polling conducted since the May primary election has positioned the two U.S. Senate candidates in a statistical dead heat, according to NBC4’s analysis of polling.
Ohio State University political science professor Michael Neblo said debates don’t often play a huge role in making up a voter’s mind, but it’s still important to have a chance to see the candidates participate in one.
“More importance, though, in the sense of going through the exercises and formalities of a democratic campaign, I think there’s value just in that, in candidates being forced to be held to account for the things they don’t want to talk about in their stump speeches and ads,” said Neblo, who is also the director of the Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability.
“I like to hear the argument,” Millsap said. “I like to hear them talk about what it is they actually do feel or know about an issue and where those lines are drawn and, hopefully, that comes out.”
Even though voters may have decided on who they’re going to vote for, Neblo that’s still not an excuse to not have a debate.
“There are some reasons to think this one could be a little more consequential,” he said. “One, the race is thought to be fairly close. Two, that neither of the candidates have saturated statewide recognition. People are still learning who they are.”
Millsap has some advice for both candidates.
“I think Tim Ryan needs to do a nice job of just getting people to turn out, come to the polls, and vote,” she said. “JD Vance may want kind of the opposite, a lower turnout. I think he is relying very much on your traditional party-line voters.”
The debate will be shown on air and online at 7 p.m. Monday night on NBC4 and nbc4i.com.