Monday, October 28, 2002

Negative ads
irk voters

A majority says the governor’s race
has lost its focus on issues

Vote-influencing issues

By Pat Omandam

Nowadays, when Lea Kaai hears or sees a negative campaign advertisement in the Hawaii governor's race, she tunes it out.

"It's turning me off," said Kaai, a marketing major at Hawaii Pacific University. "I don't even listen to it anymore. I don't even know why they would do it."

Election 2002
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A new Honolulu Star-Bulletin/KITV 4 News poll showed more than three-fourths of respondents believe the major candidates for governor are spending too much time trying to create a negative image of their opponents.

About 77 percent said Republican Linda Lingle and Democrat Mazie Hirono are spending too much time on negative ads. Another 16 percent didn't think so, while 8 percent did not know or refused to answer the question.

"I'd rather hear a platform rather than what the other person did," said Joseph Barnum, a HPU senior.

The poll was taken among 600 Hawaii registered voters who were randomly selected and interviewed by telephone Oct. 17-24 by Market Trends Pacific Inc. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

A Star-Bulletin/KITV 4 News poll released yesterday showed Lingle and Hirono are in a dead heat to become Hawaii's first female governor.


Kaai, a junior, explained voters are confused over the ads because they manipulate the truth. She worries people who are impressionable and uninformed about the race may vote based entirely on the last negative campaign ad they hear before they step into the polling booth.

James Houser, a HPU senior, added: "Right now, there's too much negative campaigning. They're not really getting anything out with their own message."

Indeed, the negative attacks appear to be hindering both candidate's ability to present their position on issues. Only 48 percent of those polled said Hirono presented a clear idea of what she stands for. Another 42 percent said she did not, and 10 percent did not know.

The poll showed the largest group that felt Hirono did not give a clear idea of what she stood for were Caucasian respondents between the ages of 41 and 56 who have lived in Hawaii less than 29 years.

For Lingle, 52 percent said they understood her campaign positions, while 31 percent said they did not. Another 17 percent said they did not know.

The poll showed the largest group that felt Lingle did not present a clear idea of her positions were those of Japanese ancestry age 56 or older who have lived in Hawaii for more than 46 years.

Janet Zukemura, a HPU junior majoring in human resources management, said the negative ads may be backfiring.

"I think that they are trying, but all the negative campaign ads against each other is blocking out what they are trying to say," Zukemura said.

"It's back-and-forth, back-and-forth, and it lowers your view of both candidates," she said.

Concern over negative and unfair campaigning has prompted some to action. The Hawaii Pro-Democracy Initiative, the Society of Professional Journalists and the University of Hawaii School of Communications are sponsoring a forum at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday at the Richards Street YWCA to discuss where candidates should draw the line.

"The voting public gets turned off by campaign advertisements they feel are negative, unfair or unethical," said Robin Loomis, HPDI president. "We should find ways to increase turnout, not to lower it, and we hope this event will help."

Star-Bulletin / KITV 4 News polls

Tonight: KITV 4 News looks at who's ahead in the 2nd Congressional District race, the late Democratic U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink or Republican Bob McDermott.

Tomorrow: The Star-Bulletin looks at how you rate Linda Lingle, James "Duke" Aiona, Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono and Sen. Matt Matsunaga.

Tomorrow night: KITV 4 News shows you how familiar you are with the candidates for the Board of Education and whether you think you have enough information about them to make a good choice.

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