Washingtonians Disappointed By Negative Political Ads

Jun 11, 2012

Washington voters find it hard to determine if political campaign ads are accurate, according to a survey by the AARP of Washington. Paige Browning reports, the organization hosted an event in Spokane Thursday to share the results and educate their members.

Almost 80 percent of registered Washington voters that were surveyed said it’s difficult to determine if information in political advertisements is accurate. The Politics As Usual survey sampled a random group of 1,000 voters age 18 and over.

Doug Shadel, the AARP State Director, said while voters are skeptical of ads, especially negative ones, they are not well educated on advertisement policies.

“Fewer than one in six voters understand that the content of political speech is not regulated by anybody," Shadel says. "The first amendment protects freedom of speech and that’s a good thing, but it means that all of these deceptive claims go un-checked."

At the AARP event in Spokane’s CenterPlace Regional Event Center, Shadel explained that neither the Federal Election Commission nor the Federal Communications Commission regulates content in campaign ads. In fact, political parties can legally give misleading or deceptive information, as long as no outright lies are stated.

About 100 AARP members attended Spokane’s event to learn about Medicare, Social Security and negative campaigning.

Veteran Richard Chadderdon is not a fan of current campaigning trends.

“It just really grinds my grits to see what the political system does now to try to lead the public around by the nose," Chadderdon says. "When you can see and read and analyze it yourself, then you know what’s cookin’."

He offers a hopeful alternative.

Chadderdon: “If you sit down individually and talk with the politicians, what an education that would be.”

While that may not be possible, voters can watch candidates for office participate in a number of public debates in Washington. Next Tuesday the gubernatorial and attorney general candidates will debate at the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane.

Spokane Public Radio will broadcast the event live, and re-air sections on Tuesday and Thursday night.

Copyright 2012 Spokane Public Radio