Credit: Christine Stuart file photo

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont has agreed to two televised debates before Election 2022, which is less than his Republican opponent Bob Stefanowski had wanted. The first debate, which will include Independent Party candidate Rob Hotaling, will be hosted by NBC-CT Tuesday, Sept. 27. The second will be hosted by WTNH on Tuesday, Nov. 1, at the CCM annual meeting at Mohegan Sun Casino. 

Other TV stations like WFSB, News 12, and Connecticut Public Television had hoped to host debates between the two. 

“Ned Lamont is a coward. His decision to duck debates with me is an insult to every Connecticut resident, all of whom deserve better from their governor,” Stefanowski said in an emailed statement.

“More specifically, they deserve to hear Ned explain why our taxes and utility rates are skyrocketing. They deserve to hear Ned explain why he treats criminals better than cops,” he added.

In addition to the two debates, Lamont has also agreed to four forums hosted by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, and local chambers of commerce in New Haven and Stamford.

“Governor Lamont is excited to speak directly with the voters of Connecticut and discuss the issues that are important to them and their families,” Jake Lewis, Lamont’s campaign spokesman, said. “Debates and forums are essential parts of the democratic process and Governor Lamont looks forward to participating and showing voters why he is still the best candidate to continue leading our state and ensure that Connecticut remains the best place in the nation to live, work, and raise a family.”

According to the last poll, Lamonts leads Stefanowski by 10 points with 9% of the voters still undecided.

Around 55% reported having a very favorable or somewhat favorable view of Lamont while 40% reported unfavorable opinions. Meanwhile, voters were split on Stefanowski with 45% favoring him and 45% holding unfavorable views.

As for debates, there’s a question about whether they actually sway voters. 

According to a 2019 study by Vincent Pons, an associate professor of business administration in the Business, Government, and International Economy at Harvard’s Business School, and co-author Caroline Le Pennec-Caldichoury, a doctoral candidate in economics at the University of California, Berkeley, it may not matter. 

“We do not find any significant impact of TV debates on individual consistency between vote intention and vote choice – or between policy preferences, issue salience, or beliefs on candidates expressed before and after an election,” Pons and Le Pennec-Caldichoury wrote in their paper on the subject.