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OPINION: Utah’s voters are too smart to fall for attack ads

Attack ads published by both Mia Love and Ben McAdams' campaigns.

As the last few voters in Utah cast their votes, we have a lot to of reasons to be proud of our role in this election. We’ve already come out in record numbers to be counted and to have our voices heard.

But there’s one thing about this election that’s made me sick to my stomach: all these low-down, dirty, mudslinging attack ads that have been polluting our airwaves.

The closest ticket in our state, the 4th district race between Mia Love and Ben McAdams, has been one of the most negative races I can remember. But it hasn’t been the only one that’s devolved into mudslinging. In the 34th district, we’ve even seen politicians to using quotes from scripture to attack each other.

It’s horrible when you try to be an informed voter and all you get to hear are candidates talking how horrible their opponents are, with barely a word wasted on describing their own policies.

But I think that the voters in Utah are smarter than attack ads. I believe that, when the votes are tallied, we’re going to see that these negative attack ads have had no impact on us whatsoever.

And I’m hopeful that, when they do, our politicians are going to give these attack ads a rest.

Attack ads don’t really work

Todd Zenger Utah Attack Ad

This flyer, sent out by Todd Zenger’s campaign, quotes The Book of Mormon to criticize his Jewish opponent, Patrice Arent. (Stuart Hamill/Reddit)

Several studies have looked into how attack ads influence voters and, at best, it’s inconclusive as to whether or not they actually impact us.

For the most part, the studies seem to say that the ads get our attention and, for a short while after we see them, might even lead to a slight bump in the polls in favor of the politician who was willing to take the low road.

But that bump doesn’t last. Shortly after, the polls seem to go back to where they were beforehand. The ads give us a short-lived emotional reaction, it seems, but then we calm down, think it through rationally, and go back to making our own decisions.

They don’t sway our votes, and we don’t want them. Actually, scratch that — we hate them.

Every caller that’s gotten in touch with us on the Dave & Dujanovic show has expressed nothing but complete and utter contempt for these attack ads. One woman who called in today said, after seeing all the attack ads from Ben McAdams and Mia Love:

“I wouldn’t vote for either one of them. I’d write in somebody or vote for a different candidate because I’m so sick of the negative ads. I think they’re down in the gutter.”

We’ve told our politicians loud and clear that we don’t want to hear what’s wrong with their opponents. We just want to hear their policies. We want our politicians to give us a reason to vote for them.

So why aren’t they doing it?

Voters in Utah are too smart to fall for these ads

This ad in support of President Donald Trump was pulled by multiple networks. They say that it is full of inaccuracies. (DtoTheK/YouTube)

I truly believe that today’s voters, particularly in Utah, are too smart to fall for the lies we’ve been hearing in these attack ads.

The people in this state have a grassroots, homegrown approach to voting. We pick the candidates that are best for our state, and we take the time to learn who they really are before we cast our ballots.

At this point, our politicians have made it clear that we can’t trust what they say in their ads and they’ve proven that to us time and time again.

Recently, Facebook and multiple TV networks pulled an ad released by President Trump himself because so many of the details in the just weren’t accurate. By the time it was pulled, though, millions of people had already seen it.

It’s upsetting that our politicians are getting away with making things up, but it’s also an incredible reminder of how important it is to make sure that we’re doing our own research.

The great thing about the time we live in is that we have that ability to look at more than just what the candidates say. We have the internet at our fingertips, and with a couple of strokes of the keys we can fact check anything we hear.

I’m hopeful that Utah will lead the way; that we’ll ignore the attack ads and vote on the facts. I’m hopeful that we can send a message to the politicians in this state that we’re tired of hearing campaigns based on negativity, criticism, and lies.

And I’m praying that two years from now, when the next federal election comes around, our politicians will listen.

More to the story

My co-host Dave Noriega and I talked about this issue on KSL Newsradio, and he says that, if attack ads didn’t work, politicians wouldn’t use them. If you want to hear another point of view on this story, you can hear what he has to see on the Dave & Dujanovic podcast.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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