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Of campaign commercials and pollsters

September 22, 2012 - Andrea Johnson
What should a campaign commercial look like to get your attention or, more importantly, change your mind about a candidate?

Do you like ones that are funny, ones that are sincere, ones that show a candidate walking through a farm field or down small town Main Street, talking to farmers in overalls? Does it take an attack ad against the other candidate to get the job done or perhaps an interview with the candidate's mother about his or her early years working hard to pay for college?

So far we seem to have been treated to all of the above during this year's political campaign. The Senate race seems to be attracting national attention too, probably due to the potential for the Democrats to lose control of the Senate or for the Republicans to regain it. Depending on what polls you read, it's a toss-up whether Rick Berg, the Republican, or Heidi Heitkamp, the Democrat, will be elected. The most recent poll I saw gave Berg a slight edge, but it was still close.

Speaking of polls, I've been bothered by at least three of them in the last few months. The last one was a robot. They apparently could not find a real person to conduct the political poll. It was "punch 1" if you plan to vote for Rick and "punch 2" if you plan to vote for Heidi and "punch 3" if you are undecided. I answered the questions for the entertainment value and to find out what they were going to ask me. They asked me to identify my political party, to tell them who I voted for in the Presidential election in 2008 and who I plan to vote for in this year's Presidential race, and whether I'm "really, really, really" sure I'm going to vote for so and so. I suppose they figure the Democrat may be more likely to vote for a Democratic candidate and the Republican may vote for a Republican candidate and the person who voted for Obama is bound to vote Democrat again. I don't know if that's true most of the time, since people tend to vote for candidates from different parties depending on how well they know the person and the person's platform.

I also don't know how accurate the polls actually are. Back in 2008, I remember radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh urging his audience to register to vote Democrat in primaries and caucuses to mess with the other side's data. I have a relative who says he always puts down that he belongs to some obscure political party or is voting for the opposite person he really intends to vote for. I bet some of Rush's fans are doing that this year too. This is one way to have fun with pollsters.

I am at the point where I hit the mute button on the remote whenever one of the campaign commercials come on. I will probably hang up on the next robot who calls to ask me who I plan to vote for. The relentless campaigning and polls may backfire on candidates if people get sick of hearing from them.

Only a month and a half to go.


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