North Carolinians displeased with tone of 2008 campaigns

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North Carolina residents believe there has been more mudslinging and negative campaigning this election season than in previous years, although most say political ads have not been helpful in selecting a candidate to endorse, according to the latest Elon University Poll.

Fifty-nine percent of North Carolinians say this election has been more negative than past contests and 90 percent report having seen negative ads. Despite this, 64 percent of residents who viewed negative television ads say those ads were “not at all effective” in influencing which candidate to support.

“Thrust into the national spotlight with very competitive elections, the state has seen its airwaves flooded with campaign advertisements,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll. “But North Carolinians don’t believe everything they see and hear.”

Residents said the Republican Party has been more negative in the race for the White House with 25 percent identifying the McCain-Palin campaign as “too negative or nasty” compared with 8 percent for the Obama-Biden ticket.  Sixty-nine percent of residents feel the overall tone of political ads in North Carolina have been negative.

Negative impressions of three major contests are indicated below:

  • Presidential: McCain/Palin (50 percent), Obama/Biden (30 percent)
  • Senatorial: Elizabeth Dole (48 percent), Kay Hagan (38 percent)
  • Gubernatorial: Pat McCrory (21 percent), Bev Perdue (30 percent)

Seventy-nine percent of residents feel they received enough information to make an informed vote this year. The outlets where people reported gaining most of their election information were as follows (respondents could provide more than one answer):

  • Local television news: 53 percent
  • Local newspapers: 38 percent
  • Internet: 37 percent
  • Cable television news: 36 percent
  • National network television news: 29 percent

The poll, conducted Oct. 27 – Oct. 30, surveyed 797 North Carolina residents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The sample is of the population in general, with numbers that include both landlines and cellular phones. Respondents were not restricted by voter registration or likelihood of voting.