Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

October 15, 2012

Political ads bombard viewers, but to what effect?

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Is there any escape from all those political ads in the most hotly contested states in the three weeks before the presidential election?

The TV ads come in rapid succession and at all hours — in the middle of newscasts, soap operas and talk shows. They cover everything from jobs to education to trust, and they're sharply negative.

It's all enough to turn off voters, leaving them frustrated and annoyed.

"It's just way too much," says Scot French, a history professor at the University of Central Florida. He lives along the swing-voting Interstate 4 corridor that will play an important role in deciding whether President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney wins the state, and perhaps the White House.

French is quick to criticize both political parties, calling the homestretch advertising deluge "a game of sowing confusion among those who are confusable."

This is the risk facing the candidates and their allies as they spend huge sums of money before the Nov. 6 vote. It's a risk that both sides are willing to take, given that polls show the race remains close nationally and in the most competitive states such as Florida.

By the end, the campaigns and independent groups will have spent about $1.1 billion on television advertising this year, with $750 million already allocated in the handful of states likely to determine the outcome of the contest — Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin, the Kantar-Campaign Media Analysis Group estimates.

Florida tops the list, with more than $150 million spent by both sides so far.

At least some voters tuned out long ago. In interviews last week, many cited the negativity and lack of specifics in the commercials; others said they had already decided which candidate to support and didn't need to be persuaded.

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