Which candidate's view on the issues do you agree with the most?
- Who ran the fairest campaign?
- Which candidate demonstrated the most knowledge on the issues?
- Which candidate has the leadership qualities you are looking for?
Evaluate candidates' use of television
More and more, people tune in to televisions for their main source of information. Television is a visual medium dependent on good pictures and timely events to tug at your emotions and keep your interest. Candidates are aware of the potential power of television and try to use it to their advantage. For instance, in a newscast, the picture you see of a crowd with banners and balloons cheering a candidate may have been staged by a media advisor whose job is to make the candidate look good on television. As you watch news coverage of campaigns, be aware of staged events and try to find out what the candidate is saying about the issues. When you watch political ads you need to be aware of how the media influences your reactions. Ask yourself some questions as you watch. Did you find out anything about issues or qualifications? Or was the ad designed only to affect your attitude or feelings about a candidate? How important were the script, setting and music?
Seeing through distortion techniques.
All candidates are trying to sell themselves to voters. Sometimes their language is so skillfully crafted that they distort the truth in way that are difficult for even the most careful observer to detect. Here are some examples of distortion techniques that you should watch for as you review candidates' campaign materials.
Common distortion techniques:
Name calling/Appeals to prejudice:
These are attacks on an opponent based on characteristics that will not affect performance in office. References to race, ethnicity or martial status can be subtly used to instill prejudice.
These include statements such as, "Everyone says my opponent is a crook, but I have no personal knowledge of any wrongdoing," which imply (but do not state) that the opponent is guilty.
Guilt by association:
These are statements such as, "We all know Candidate B is backed by big money interest," that attack candidates because of their support rather than because of their stands on the issues.
These are phrases such as "Law and Order" or "un-American" that are designed to trigger a knee-jerk emotional reaction rather than to inform.
Passing the blame:
These are instances in which a candidate denies responsibility for an action or blames an opponent for things over which he or she had no control.
Promising the sky:
These are unrealistic promises that no one elected official could fulfill.
Evading real issues:
These include instances in which candidates may avoid answering direct questions, offer only vague solutions or talk about the benefits of proposed programs but never get specific about possible problems or costs.
Prepare a Candidate Report Card
List Issues: Your Priority Issues
List your positions and rank the candidates on how they stand on the issues and your positions
List the Leadership Qualities you want and rank the candidates on those qualities.
This information is part of the League of Women Voters Education Fund project.
Online publishing of this page was originally done by
The League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area