Polling Paucity Leaves Makeup Of Gubernatorial Debates In Question
Even with the high marks he garnered in some media outlets for his performance in last week’s Bluegrass Poll debate, independent gubernatorial candidate Drew Curtis won’t be on stage the next time the candidates go head-to-head on TV.
As with national debates, the key variable that determines who snags a podium onstage and who stays home is polling. But unlike those higher profile contests, Kentucky’s race for governor isn’t being constantly tracked by pollsters. In fact, when the last snapshot was released in late July, Curtis had yet to officially enter the race, leaving the campaign without a way to qualify for the upcoming debate at Centre College.
But the Versailles-based entrepreneur is confident a clearer picture of the race will emerge next week.
"There's a poll coming out Sep. 30, which probably is going to have some pretty strong numbers in it and they're going to be really hard pressed to explain why there's a debate a week later that I'm not going to," he tells WUKY. "But I think it works out in my favor either way."
Centre College established its debate qualification rules, which include a 15 percent polling threshold, back in the summer – drawing on guidelines from the Commission on Presidential Debates. Centre spokesman Michael Strysick says Kentucky might benefit from the creation of a similar state-level commission.
"We do set ourselves up for some of these concerns by not really having a statewide debate commission or any type of statewide body to help mitigate these concerns," he says.
Strysick adds that it's difficult to read the tea leaves when crafting the rules and rearranging debate plans on short notice entails a number of logistical challenges.
"We had no idea if and when polls would be coming out," he says.
Meanwhile, Curtis is slated to take part in a Kentucky Sports Radio debate September 30.