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Candidates prepare for first gubernatorial debate

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RALEIGH -- After months on the campaign trail, Wednesday's debate will give both gubernatorial candidates a chance to answer questions, lay out their vision for the state and introduce themselves to those voters just tuning in to this race.

But polling numbers indicate that these two candidates will have very different missions during the debate.

“I think it is going to Pat McCrory's to lose during the debate,” said Michael Bitzer, with Catawba College. “Walter Dalton has got to shake things up. I think that he has got to be aggressive but not to have it backfire against him. I really think it is pretty much Pat McCrory's to lose. He needs to go in gaffe free."

That's because the polls clearly favor McCrory. A snapshot of the left leaning Public Policy Polls since right after the May primary show that McCrory has held a steady lead.

In fact, he's been up by at least 6 points over Dalton in every poll, with the latest poll showing the lead jumping to 10 points.

“Right now, Walter Dalton is facing a problem within his party in that about 20 percent of democrats are supporting Pat McCrory.,” said Bitzer. “If McCrory gets that type of crossover vote it is going to be very difficult for Walter Dalton to re-coalesce and get his party base in line as we go into the early voting and in to November.”

For his part, McCrory is cruising ahead right now raising more than $3 million in the last fundraising quarter -- a million of that in one week. This is an indication there is momentum behind his campaign. Political observers said the debates are not likely to change that.

So for, Dalton the task if very daunting, because history is not on his favor,” said David McLennan with William Peace University. He has got to hope for a lot of bad things to happen to McCrory and history has shown that McCrory doesn't make those kind of mistakes.”

News 14 Carolina will air the gubernatorial debate on Wed., Oct. 3 at 8 p.m.

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