Local News

Attack Ads Aim To Sway Undecided Voters

Posted October 27, 2004

— As Election Day draws near, the number of political ads are increasing and are getting nastier. Among the worst are those between North Carolina's candidates for the U.S. Senate.

The latest polls show Republican Richard Burr and Democrat Erskine Bowles are in a dead heat for Sen. John Edwards' Senate seat with each candidate getting 45 percent of the vote.

Ten percent of likely voters are still undecided, and that is the part of the electorate the negative ads are targeting.

The idea is that if people cannot decide which candidate they like the most, they can at least decide which they like the least.

The ads are as rampant as they as they are disliked.

"We're not going to see the end of them any time soon," said Dr. Dan Fountain, a professor at Meredith College.

Fountain said when you have a race as tight as the one between Bowles and Burr, "Ultimately it's to take down your opponent's positives. You're not going to get a lot of positive bounce yourself out of these, but you want to make the other candidate more scary."

Bowles is continuously pictured with President Bill Clinton. Fountain said it is a symbol that the right wing has come to hate.

"And so by attaching Clinton with Bowles, it gives him such a negative association that it benefits Burr," he explained.

Meanwhile,Burr is accused of denying breast cancer coverage by a breast cancer survivor.

Voters say they do not want to see the negativity, but Fountain said the ads run because they work. But guess what?

"You want to get people who are undecided not to vote for the other individual, and so they throw it out there -- a hail Mary," Fountain said.

The race has some big implications on a national level. In a year when Democrats are trying to win back control of the Senate, the seat Edwards left open would be a key win for either party.

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