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How to watch the 2014 midterm debates

PBS NewsHour will live stream some of the debates, including the Kansas gubernatorial debate on Oct. 21, in the player above. We will also provide links to watch some of the other closely contested races. See the schedule below and click the link to find a live stream of the event.

Editor’s note: This post will be updated daily to provide additional links to the debates that we are live streaming.

The days are getting shorter, coffee shops are rolling out their pumpkin-flavored menus and, from podiums across the country, candidates for elected office both major and minor are doing their best to espouse their plans, discredit their opponents and avoid making any YouTube-worthy gaffes.

With only a few weeks left in this year’s midterm elections cycle, debate season is in full swing. Many of these events promise tension and excitement in a year where control of the Senate is up for grabs.

PBS NewsHour has a full schedule of debates that will be live streamed, from some key races for national office. Follow our Elections 2014 coverage to gain access to upcoming debates, many of which are hosted by PBS affiliates all across the country.

We kicked off our coverage in October with events coming out of neck-and-neck campaigns:

  • Georgia, U.S. Senate. Featuring Michelle Nunn (D), David Perdue (R) and Amanda Swafford (L). Tuesday, Oct. 7, 7 p.m. EDT.
  • North Carolina, U.S. Senate. Featuring incumbent Kay Hagan (D) and Thom Tillis (R). Tuesday, Oct. 7, 7 p.m. EDT.
  • West Virginia, U.S. Senate. Featuring Shelley Moore Capito (R) and Natalie Tennant (D). Tuesday, Oct. 7, 7 p.m. EDT.
  • Illinois, Governor. Featuring incumbent Pat Quinn (D) and Bruce Rauner (R). Thursday, Oct. 9, 7 p.m. EDT.
  • Wisconsin, Governor. Featuring incumbent Scott Walker (R), Mary Burke (D), Robert Burke (L), Dennis Fehr (People’s Party). Friday, Oct. 10, 8 p.m. EDT.
  • Michigan, Governor. Town hall forum, featuring incumbent Rick Snyder (R) and Mark Schauer (D). Sunday, Oct. 12, 7 p.m. EST.

This election cycle has seen an unprecedented number of incumbents refusing to debate their opponents. As social media and digital outlets proliferate, more candidates — especially those with substantial leads in the polls — are opting out of the traditional debate format, believing they can communicate with voters on their own terms, in formats where they can better control the outcome.

As a result, serious candidate-on-candidate sparring has already taken place away from the television cameras, merely in the attempt to plan these appearances:

  • Candidates in Maine’s governor’s race only finalized a debate schedule a couple weeks ago, after many voters have already cast early absentee ballots. Maine’s incumbent Governor Paul LePage (R) stated last month that he did not want to appear across from his Democratic challenger, Mike Michaud, after an outside group ran an attack ad the LePage camp called inaccurate. Michaud, for his part, would not agree to any debate featuring only third-party candidate Eliot Cutler. Recently, all three agreed to a series of televised debates.
  • That’s more than can be said for the Ohio governor’s race, where, for the first time in more than 35 years, candidates won’t debate at all. Incumbent Gov. John Kasich (R) says this is because Ed FitzGerald (D) has all but thrown in the towel after polls revealing he trails by 30 points; the Democratic camp says the Governor is refusing to allow them a platform to bridge that gap. Major polling gaps haven’t derailed past gubernatorial debates in the Buckeye State. In 1994, Robert Burch, then a Democratic State Senator, debated Republican George Voinovich — who then went on to defeat him by 47 percentage points in the general election.
  • And in Michigan, where efforts stalled to schedule a debate for the state’s U.S. Senate race, Democratic Senate candidate Gary Peters, a U.S. Representative, began hosting his own events, using an empty chair to stand in for his Republican opponent, Terri Lynn Land. After his campaign released a statement blaming Land’s “unwillingness to participate in any of the debate invitations both campaigns have received,” the GOP campaign fired back a scathing retort criticizing Peters’ Congressional record. “It’s only appropriate that Gary Peters’ first debate would be against Gary Peters,” the statement said. “Congressman Gary and Candidate Gary disagree on the issues that matter to Michigan voters.”

Even with so many paths to voter outreach in this digital age, the televised debate remains a format in which candidates can engage with their own ideas in real time, pressed for consistency and nuance by trained moderators, directly before their hopeful constituents. A full schedule of debates streamed by PBS NewsHour is below.

State Race Debate Date Time
North Carolina Senate 10/7/2014 7 p.m. EDT
West Virginia Senate 10/7/2014 7 p.m. EDT
Georgia Senate 10/7/2014 7 p.m. EDT
Illinois Gubernatorial 10/9/2014 9 p.m. EDT
Wisconsin Gubernatorial 10/10/2014 8 p.m. EDT
Michigan* Gubernatorial 10/12/2014 6 p.m. EDT
Arkansas Senate 10/13/2014 3 p.m. EDT
Kentucky** Senate 10/13/2014 8 p.m. EDT
Virginia Senate 10/13/2014 7 p.m. EDT
Louisiana Senate 10/14/2014 8 p.m. EDT
Maine Gubernatorial 10/15/2014 7 p.m. EDT
Colorado Gubernatorial 10/15/2014 9:30 p.m. EDT
Arkansas Gubernatorial 10/16/2014 9 p.m. EDT
Wisconsin Gubernatorial 10/17/2014 8 p.m. EDT
Montana Senate 10/20/2014 8 p.m. EDT
Kansas Gubernatorial 10/21/2014 1:40 p.m. EDT
South Dakota Senate 10/23/2014 9 p.m. EDT
Colorado Gubernatorial 10/24/2014 8 p.m. EDT
Minnesota Senate 11/2/2014 8 p.m. EST

*Town Hall Forum
**Kentucky Tonight program featuring candidates for U.S. Senate

Correction: This article originally stated “Governor Paul LePage (R) spent the summer categorically refusing to appear across from his Democratic challenger, Mike Michaud.” But Gov. LePage’s refusal to debate was only a short-lived policy that happened after he says an outside group ran inaccurate attack ads against his campaign. This article also originally stated that “Some say [the Ohio debates collapsed] because Ed FitzGerald (D) has all but thrown in the towel,” but the FitzGerald campaign claims it was Kasich’s team that ultimately ended negotiations. Also, the original report had Arkansas’ Senate debate for 9 p.m. on Oct. 13. It is instead at 3 p.m.

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