WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- With the race between U.S. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and her Republican rival Donald Trump running neck and neck, the upcoming presidential debates could determine who will clinch the White House.
Clinton is now still the favorite to win the presidential race, but now it could become a very tight race," Republican strategist Ford O' Connell told Xinhua.
"The polls are tightening and the Clinton camp is concerned about turnout," said O' Connell.
The Clinton camp has realized that there's "an enthusiasm gap in favor of Trump," he noted.
Indeed, Trump has galvanized working class whites more than any Republican candidate in decades, whereas Clinton has not garnered anything near that sort of enthusiasm.
Many Clinton supporters don't feel passionate about the candidate, but rather support her simply because they don't like Trump.
Trump was trailing Clinton several points in the polls just a month ago, but behind only 1.5 points in the Real Clear Politics poll average on Saturday.
The past month has looked good for Trump but increasingly bad for Clinton, especially after her collapse last Sunday in New York. That has sparked concerns that the 68-year-old candidate may not be healthy enough to lead the country.
At the same time, Trump has in recent weeks made an effort to appear more presidential, making serious policy speeches with cogent arguments, instead of controversial, offensive and over-the-top statements that get him into trouble with voters.
"Clinton's had a bad month. Trump has had a very, very good September. Obviously we still have half the month to go, but between the health issue and the 'deplorables' comment, things are looking up for Trump," O' Connell said.
He was referring to Clinton's recent attacks on voters who support Trump, calling half of them "deplorables." This marked a very rare occasion in U.S. history that a presidential candidate has attacked an opponent's supporters rather than the opponent.
The comment may hurt Clinton, especially in the upcoming debates, when Trump will have a chance to paint her as an elitist who is way out of touch with the country' s working class - the bulk of Trump' s supporters.
Clinton has also been criticized for her campaign's lack of transparency concerning her health after the Sunday collapse.
But Clinton has an edge in the ground game, with experienced campaign managers who know how to go door-to-door in various districts and counties nationwide to drum up support for Clinton.
Trump's ground game is lacking, and much of his campaign has depended on media coverage of the bombastic candidate.
Given the trends and the fact that the candidates are neck-in-neck less than two months before the election day on November 8, the upcoming three presidential debates may well determine who wins the White House.
"At the rate things are going, the debates could very well decide this presidential election," said O' Connell, adding that the first debate could attract as many as 100 million viewers due to the controversies of this presidential race.
For many voters, their first perception of the candidates is likely to be made at the debates, because they don' t really follow the election campaign closely, he explained.
The first presidential debate is scheduled to be held on Sept. 26, while the two others will take place on Oct. 9 and Oct. 19.