Presidential and vice presidential debate schedule

The schedule is set for what is likely to be some of the most watched presidential debates in American history. 

"Mass audiences are going to be tuning in to look for a smack-down," said Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant.

Over the past half-century, general-election debates have offered plenty of moments of televised high drama — but knockouts are rare.

With many 2016 voters under-whelmed by both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, this year's debates could well be more influential than usual.

"For viewers, it creates a scenario that virtually compels them to watch. Anything that happens on that stage will therefore be magnified exponentially," said author Alan Schroeder.

There are three scheduled presidential debates and one vice presidential debate before the general election on Nov. 8.

Sept. 26: 1st Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on Long Island moderated by NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt

Oct. 4: Vice Presidential Debate at Longwood University in Virginia moderated by CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano

Oct. 9: 2nd Presidential Town Hall/Debate at Washington University in St. Louis moderated by ABC's Martha Raddatz

Oct. 19: 3rd Presidential Debate at the University of Nevada Las Vegas moderated by FOX News anchor Chris Wallace

With the Associated Press