Is Negative Politics Turning People Away? - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro, AR -- Melissa Simas reports

Is Negative Politics Turning People Away?

October 1, 2004 -- Posted 4:15 p.m. CDT

Jonesboro, AR -- President Bush and Senator Kerry's first political debate is now history but were any minds changed in what has been a bitter political season?

An instant poll from A-B-C found 45% of those asked say they believe John Kerry won the debate, while 36% say it went to President Bush. 17% call it a tie.

Surrogates from both camps are predictably quick and pointed with their assessments of how their candidate performed and often times resort to negative attacks against the opposing candidate.

Several students at Arkansas State University made time to watch the first presidential debate between President George Bush and Democratic Challenger John Kerry.

"It sounds like a bunch of kids at school talking trash to each other, but just in a more educated way," said ASU student Ben Morris.

"I don't think they should attack each other like they did, they were just slandering each other the whole time," said ASU student Chris Cato.

This student says rhetoric like that turns him away from the political process. However, other ASU students disagree. They say the political debate should be tough, especially in a time of war.

"You can't mislead your people," said one ASU student.

So how nasty has this political campaign season been?

Surprisingly political science professor Richard Wang says not at all. He says during the Vietnam War the Nixon/McGovern race was much more heated.

"Last night it was downplayed, it was subtle," said Wang.

Wang says in times of war the country deserves a tough debate. However he cautions against the politics of personal destruction, which he says has been most evident this campaign season through the attacks of groups like Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

"That's about as negative as I've ever seen," said Wang.

This independent group has criticized Kerry's service in Vietnam.

"When you're talking about this kind of stuff, what that means is you're not talking about the real issues that you ought to be talking about," said Wang.

Professor Wang says if the political dialogue heads in an extremely negative direction, look for it to happen in the next 2 weeks.

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