I’ve been in Ohio for only 24 hours and I’ve already seen five different political ads on tv and heard at least 15 political ads on the radio. There is at least one lawn sign on every street. Some houses have as many as seven different lawn signs. I’m already overloaded, and I just got here. Imagine having to live with this constant drone of political persuasion since June.
While canvassing the other day I met an undecided voter. She was very self-aware of her famed status. However, her husband has been unemployed for the past two years, and while they both were going to school, she and her husband were unable to find full time employment. Despite being inundated with political information, she lamented the negative campaigning, and she told me she wasn’t sure who to vote for because she thought they were both so equally bad. It seems like she’s suffering from voter fatigue.
More than 7,000 political ads have aired in Columbus, Ohio in the month of October. Many of these ads have a negative slant. Back in August, the Obama campaign and progressive PACs released a series of ads to negatively frame Romney’s role with Bain Capital. Romney followed up by attacking Obama for “gutting welfare reform.” Obama’s camp released ads attacking Romney on job creation. Romney attacks Obama in a Spanish language ad, for his “similarities to Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. Just yesterday Romney’s camp released an ad attacking Obama’s campaign trail statement that “voting is the best revenge.”
Though it’s a commonly held belief, there is no reliable evidence that negative campaign ads lower voter turnout. Some studies, however, have shown that negative ads lower feelings of political efficacy, trust in government, and overall public mood (I’ve definitely seen evidence of that last one).
We all know how the children of swing states are fed up with “Bronco Bama and Mitt Romney,” but will voter fatigue prevent their parents from voting?
Ironically, in Ohio, where early voting has been pushed hard, folks are getting slammed with campaign ads even after they’ve cast their ballots. I guess there’ll be no rest for the weary until after November 6.