Commercials attacking another candidate did not help first-time voters make decisions during the past midterm elections.
Jillian Martin is a second-year Mesa Community College (MCC) student and one of many first-time voters who found no use of commercials downplaying other candidates.
“I find them less educational, and more combative, and kind of pointless,” Martin said. “The person who is sending these attack ads — I think less of them than the other person. I don’t find them helpful in any way.”
Martin added that she and her peers found it easier to conduct research on their own than pay attention to advertisements, so it will also be beneficial if there were more access to resources beyond the general information brochures. She would have liked to learn more about what correlating issues each candidate were taking a stand in.
There is also another kind of first-time Arizona voter that will agree with Martin. Gared Prax, a first-year MCC student and previously a Nevada resident, did not find guidance through media advertisements. With having limited knowledge in the area, Prax also turned to personal research to develop an understanding of candidate positions and local propositions.
“I feel like these commercials just make me feel bad about both sides [of the argument] because I can’t focus on the topics.” Prax explained. “How are you going to help me, you, or the community in a certain way?”
Prax was reached by political commercials through social media, TV and radio although he felt that most messages only talked about why you should not vote for a certain candidate. When asked about how else he could have been better prepared, Prax said if he was approached regarding how certain bills will affect him as much as there are people asking if he had registered to vote then he may have more pre-election knowledge on issues he would have to vote on.
Negative political advertising about opposing candidates have been on the rise with every election, making up to 92% of the most recent presidential elections, according to a 2016 CNN analysis.
While there is not an in depth study of what political commercials hold in Arizona, Martin and Prax agree on the lack of new-voter education initiatives and that these commercial segments could rather provide a positive and educational impact.
The Arizona Secretary of State showed 315,000 new voters who registered by the Oct. 9 deadline in order to participate in this year’s midterm elections.