GC students discuss effects of negative ad campaigns on voting

By: Victoria Maranan Email
By: Victoria Maranan Email

DENISON, TX-With less than a month til election day, how much do campaign ads affect the way you vote? That's the question a group of Grayson College students set out to answer one year ago. Victoria Maranan was there as they unveiled their conclusions Tuesday.

You might have seen the president's newest ad using Big Bird to combat Mitt Romney's comments that he'd cut funding to PBS, but that's just one of many designed to get a response from voters and Americans in general. Tuesday night, a group of students who've spent a year researching this topic explained whether these ads affect the way we vote.

"Mitt Romney: Taking on our enemies no matter where they nest," said one ad.

"This Obama economy has crushed the middle class," said another.

Campaign ads like these are hitting the airwaves as the election fast approaches and Grayson College student, Logan Beauchamp said they are divisive.

"They're really not hitting a main crowd, they're indirect. You really don't hear about issues on TV, you don't hear about 'well this is what we're gonna do, this is our policy, this is how we're gonna fix it.' You really hear more 'this what he's not doing,'" he said.

Tuesday night, college professors from GC and SOSU talked about the affects negative campaign ads can have on voting. The program was part of Phi Theta Kappa's Honors in Action project.

"Research is about negative campaigning, if it changes the way people vote and how it affects them. We found a lot of psychology behind it also."

Sean Ruiz said they sent out surveys asking if voters were swayed by negative ads and he was surprised at the results.

"People vote for the people that they think is gonna lose and there's also people who vote for the person who they think will win, so it almost evens out," he said.

Government professor, Mary Linder said campaign ads are no more negative than they've been in the past and whether negative or positive, they don't have much affect on voters' decisions.

"For someone who's already made a decision, I don't think there's significant impact because you'll agree with it if it's the candidate you vote for. If it's the opposite candidate, you're just gonna dismiss it," she said.

But Beauchamp said it could influence his vote.

"Absolutely, if I could get a candidate that says 'this is my track record, this is what I want to do and this is how I'm gonna do it.' I'm very likely to vote for that person because I can see results," he said.

"I think you should never accept an ad as this is gonna be my information," said Linder.

Linder also said it's important for voters to do their own research instead of depending on ads to decide.

More than 260 people in the area were surveyed as part of this study and the students are still collecting some results.


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