Undecided Students Despise Negative Ads

Many Temple students interviewed by “The Temple News” said they plan on voting today, but a sizeable amount knew little about the candidates. Aside from the politically-astute students – typically those who major in political science – some less political-savvy students weren’t exactly sure who they’d vote for.

Those students, however, were all aware of the vast array of negative election ads, which they overwhelmingly despised.

Christina Vecchiolli, a junior marketing major, said the negative TV commercials are “annoying” and dishonest.

“If you’re gonna sit here and tell me lies, are you gonna tell me lies when you get in office?” said Vecchiolli, who, along with a friend, pondered on how candidates can legally get away with commercials they perceive to be character-assassinating ads.

Vecchiolli’s friend, Janeane Tolomeo, also a junior marketing major, recalled getting angry after seeing an anti-Rick Santorum commercial.

“I don’t like that Santorum character because all I heard were bad things about him,” Tolomeo said. “And I don’t know anything about him.”

Brad Raub, a freshman history major, said the negative ads are “not productive.” Raub said he’d like political candidates to have ads that exclusively and specifically lay out their campaign platforms rather than attack their opponents.
“I want to know what people are about,” Raub said.

Associate professor Michael Hooper, a public opinion specialist who coordinates the political science department at Ambler, said “the jury is still out” on whether negatives ads benefit the candidates who run them.

“When races get close,” Hooper said, “the candidates go negative. They think they work.”

Despite being dispirited by negative ads, those students were looking forward to voting in today’s election.

“This is the first time I can vote, so it’s pretty exciting,” Raub said. “I know I’m not voting for Santorum.”

Alexander Agran, a junior anthropology major, paralleled Raub’s position. “I’m excited because Santorum been in the Senate a long time,” he said. Santorum has been a U.S. senator since 1995. “I want a chance to get him out of office,” Agran said.

Other students weren’t so certain how they’d vote. “I’m not completely sure who I’m voting for,” said Alison Altman, a junior anthropology major and friend of Agran and Raub. Altman said she needs to study the different candidates and urged students to “educate yourself before you go [to vote].”

Tolomeo said she recently registered to vote and has “been doing a little research, asking my parents what’s the difference between Democrats and Republicans.” She said she plans on voting for Gov. Edward G. Rendell “because I hear good things about him, and he’s trying to improve the city.” She wasn’t sure who else she’d vote for.

Vecchiolli said the first election she voted in was the 2004 general election. She voted Republican in ’04 “even though I don’t like Bush,” Vecchiolli said. “I thought if I gave Bush four more years he’d find a way to get us out [of Iraq].” Vecchiolli said she’s bothered that the Iraq war didn’t pan out the way she expected it to.

Vecchiolli and Tolomeo both said they care more now about politics than they did in 2004. Also, they both agreed that one vote can make a difference.

Young American adults – 18-to-24-year-old citizens – had lower voting and registration rates than all other age groups in the 2004 election, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Fifty-eight percent of young adults were registered to vote in’04 and 47 percent of young, eligible voters actually cast a ballot.

That sharply contrasts with older voters – U.S. citizens at least 55 years old. Seventy-nine percent of older voters were registered to vote in ’04 and 72 percent of eligible older voters turned out to vote in the general election.

If one vote can make a difference today, it won’t be Matthew Cliver’s. Cliver, a sophomore majoring in elementary education, said: “I’m not voting. I’m not registered.

“I really don’t know any of the candidates, because all politicians are pretty much the same,” Cliver said.

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman can be reached at sulaiman@temple.edu

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