Voters turned off by negative ads

At the gym or at home, it's hard to get away from the negative ads bombarding the airwaves.
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Political advertisements are bombarding the airwaves. They cover everything from jobs to education to trust, but nearly all are sharply negative. Many voters say it's wearing on them.

We found Phyllis Goldman getting ready to work out at the JCC Indianapolis. When we asked her about political ads, she got worked up.

"I'm going crazy. It's too much already," Goldman said. "They're spending too much money and they're wasting their money."

Corrie Cottrell was equally frustrated by all the negative campaigning.

"I think they need to talk about the issues and stop talking about each other," Cottrell said.

Robert Polkiel agreed, "I don't like listening to them. I just think they're unfair and they're lying."

Political consultant Brian Vargus said there are definitely more ads more readily available than ever before.

"We have them at more levels and they come in different forms," Vargus said. But he also noted they weren't necessarily any nastier than years past. In fact, Vargus pointed out that mudslinging goes all the way back to colonial times.

"I cannot repeat what Patrick Henry said about James Monroe," he laughed.

Vargus said candidates go on the attack because it usually works, especially when they stretch the truth.

"Some get people get engaged just because of those negative ads and they remember them," he said.

He referred to one of the most famous ads, the so-called "daisy girl" ad, which Lyndon Johnson used against Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election. It implied Goldwater would drop the H-bomb if elected.

The ad only ran once, but was considered a factor in Johnson's victory.

While today's ads are slicker, Vargus said the goal is the same.

"You make your opponent look bad. You list all the bad things they've done," he said. "You may do it all in black and white and then you shift to a color picture of your candidate at the end [with him or her] saying I approve this ad."

Like many weary voters, Heather McKenzie said she just tunes it all out, including all the negative mailers she gets.

"They go straight into the recycle bin," she said.

Vargus points out that new research shows even though "people may get sick of [the ads] they still turn out to vote."

Cottrell said of the ads, "Maybe they do work, but not for me. You want to hear something positive, but it's just negative all the time."

At least until November 7th.