This Year’s Election Won’t Be Decided By Advertising
By Eric Meron
Why should I vote for you, let me count the ways. Newspapers, television, radio and the Internet are all displaying ads that tell voters who they should chose for President and why. But are the ads really helping voters decide who is the right candidate?
Cheryl Latimore, 54, of Harlem doesn’t seem to think so. “There is nothing going to change me from voting for my man,” she said.
More money has been spent on advertising in the 2008 Presidential Campaign than any other campaign in history, according to opensecrets.org. There are less than 30 days remaining before the election, yet the Associated Press reported that 18 percent of voters were either undecided or willing to change their minds about who they were voting for.
This is a high percentage considering there are only 34 days until November 4, and how much advertising the average person is exposed to for the election in one day. According to the U.S. Census Bureau 126 million people voted in the presidential election of 2004. That means that there are more than 22.5 million people who have not decided who they are voting for in 2008, using the bureau’s 2004 numbers. If voters’ decisions were based on election ads this percentage would likely be lower.
Many voters like Latimore have already chosen a candidate and, like she, may have decided without the help of ads. “I know what I know from word of mouth, the things I hear. I know what’s going on. I don’t need ads to tell me about voting and the Internet is for the kids,” Latimore said.
Other voters are focusing on a specific issue and choosing the candidate they believe would be best suited to handle that particular problem. Johnny Cardoso 42, of Queens said the economy is what has his attention. He recently lost his job at Citi Bank because of cut backs and said this fact was the biggest influence on his decision.
Cardoso said that statistically, Democrats have done better with the economy than Republicans. “Clinton left office with a surplus, can Bush say that?” he said. When asked if he received any of his information from ads or debates, he said he was laid off from his job and he didn’t need any more information than that.
The majority of the people seem as if they will vote the party line. Frank Fanene, 68, of Queens, who is originally from Hawaii said, “I would vote Republican no matter what their platform is.”
Fanene said he became a Republican because he was a Marine and nothing would ever sway him from his party.
George Hemon, 53, of the Bronx had an opposing view. “I am a Democrat. Why would I vote any other way than that?”
The reaction was the same from the old to the young. All of those who said they were either Democrat or Republican would vote that way and no ads or debates would persuade them differently.
Both Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama have websites and they email potential voters with updates. The Obama campaign has even used text messages to reach its intended voters. Are people using these new methods to help them decide who to vote for or are they already so overwhelmed with email and text messages and commercials that most of these ads fall to the way side?
The husband of an elderly couple on Greenpoint Ave. in Queens put it best, “A television ad? I can’t change her mind and I’m married to her. You think the TV will do that?”