Saturday, August 26, 2006

Hunting for the Undecided Voter

After we aired our story on Thursday about the KY3 U.S. Senate Debate on October 16th, we received a few calls from viewers inquiring about how they could learn more about both campaigns.

One caller from Stone County got me thinking. He was an older man and described himself as a lifelong, proud Democrat. He asked for the campaign phone numbers and websites for both Senator Jim Talent and Claire McCaskill. He said he had been following the race, but wanted to learn more.

When I asked him who he was supporting, he paused and said although he's a lifelong Democrat, he will break away from the party occasionally to vote for "the person." He said he liked a lot of what he was hearing from McCaskill, but hadn't yet closed the door on possibly supporting Talent.


He said he really liked what Talent was saying on television, about bipartisanship, working with the other side, putting people before politics. For the last few weeks the Talent campaign has bombarded television markets with a variety of ads touting Talent as a Senator who is just that. It's just a small example of why political ads matter. This man inferred that a lot of what he was hearing about the race came from the advertisements. He said Talent seemed likeable in the ads and he therefore wasn't ready to commit one way or the other. He also said he's excited about the race and wanted to learn more.

We're happy he's excited and engaged in the debate. And if you are one of those undecided voters, I'd like to hear from you. Drop me a line at

In a race where the undecided number hovers around 5 percent or less, it is refreshing to hear from someone still wrestling with their decision. It could be a few thousand people out there, like this man from Stone County, who ultimately decide this race.


Matt Norris said...

The thing is, if the guy is basing his decision on what he's hearing on either television or the radio, he's going to be making a comically misinformed vote.

Have any of you listened to Talent's ad running on 560 lately? The "How can Claire really be on our side?" ad?

I mean, I traditionally take Republican views on a lot of issues, but this particular ad is so absurdly full of lies and half-truths that it makes me want to not vote for Talent on the premise that he actually supports such stupidity.

It won't change my mind, but I'm also somebody who actually bothers with examining past actions by the candidates, rather than being fooled into believing their campaign promises that amount to nothing more than lip-service.

I mean, this particular ad from Talent can't possibly be intended to cater to the 5% mentioned. The narrator of the ad sounds like he's 70 years old, and the issues he discusses are construed in a manner that no person with two brain cells could expect to cater to "fence sitters".

Political ads matter, alright, but only because people are stupid enough to take them at face value.

bobicus tomatocus said...

Yeah, I am sure you are traditional Republican Matt. My guess is that you probably went to a few seminars lately, eh?.

I will agree with your conclusion though that people need to make more educated decisions and not on campaign commercials..

I would like to point out that Claire Bear has an equal number, if not more, misleading advetisements. Its called an election campaign.

This is why it is oh so important that the "media" put aside their personal partisanship and get it right. That means making fair, balanced and true reports while challenging both candidates instead of throwing them softballs like "who is your role model senator."

Matt Norris said...

I'm not claiming McCaskill's ads are any better. I was simply using Talent's ad as an example because it's the last one I heard, and I regularly listen to 560.

Frankly, the media doesn't spend enough time reporting a given story to allow for "accurate" reporting. I could write an entire book to cover bogus political ads from Talent and McCaskill, and the mass media tries to condense it into two minutes of air time, in the best case.

Quite frankly, relying on today's media for any sort of accurate depictions of important events is simply not a good idea.

At least a substantial portion of their decision on how much time to cover a given story is based on how many viewers it will attract, and how many subsequent stories they think they can run on the matter.

This latest terrorist plot against airliners is a prime example:

One of the major evening news programs spent an hour on the story. Normally, that would have been great, except they went into so much sensationalized bologe about it, that I simply tuned out. Here's a summary of what they ran:

"This obviously shows the ingenuity of the terrorist"

Bologne. The plot was something that any kid with internet access could have formed in his brain, yet the media was trying to convince me that these guys were on par with some of the most genious military and intelligence minds in modern history.

"Here's a computer animation of precisely how the shockwaves of an explosion would go through an airplane and cause it to fall apart in mid-air."

Oh, thanks. What would I do without you spending 10 minutes telling me that a bomb can destroy an airplane? Remind me to petition for you to win some kind of award in journalism for this cutting-edge information.

"When we come back, should you change your travel plans as a result of this threat?"

Frankly, nothing the media tells me is going to affect my decision travel-wise. I know full-well there are jerks in the world that want to blow up airplanes.

So a one or two hour newscast was spent showing pretty animations and reporting stuff that has been common-knowledge for two decades. Quite obviously, it was intended as a publicity piece to draw viewers, because nothing in it was useful.

U.S. media on a national and international scale is completely worthless.

bobicus tomatocus said...

I agree with you matt..

I apologize for my earlier comment. I misunderstood what you were saying.

Betty B. said...

The "bipartisan" ad Jim Talent is running is right out of the Republican Playbook for 2006 by Frank Luntz, the linguistics expert, that tells GOP candidates exactly what words to use and what buttons to push to win over voters who are influenced by sound bytes.

This election blog could be very helpful to those voters seeking more information, if you would list in your link section the websites for all state/local candidates in the November election.

KY3 News said...

Thanks for the suggestion Betty. We will be putting together a voter guide on our regular website,

Keep reading and we'll let you know when that's ready to go.

bobicus tomatocus said...

@betty: You mean similar to one which was written for dems at the beginning of 2005 at how to "reach out to red state voters" by changing their rehetoric?

Fact is, Jim Talent has worked in a bipartisan matter.

Fact is, Claire is from Kansas city, but is running a misleading advertisment here in sw missouri claiming she is from this area.

Or like her radio ad about not voting against ethanol when in fact she was a prosecutor then auditor, so she never had a chance to vote for or against such policies.

My point is that the "book" you cite, if it really exsist and was used by the Talent campaign, is not unique. Claire is doing some things which isnt quite honest either.

I would agree that a voter guide is in order. I believe one like the last one posted from the league of women's voters was really key to who i voted for in august.

Betty B. said...

It would be a rare legislator who would not collaborate on at least a couple of issues with the opposite party, but that does not make him/her bipartisan. Jim Talent has a poor voting record in supporting issues opposed by Democrats that go against the interests of the working poor and average to middle-upper income families (including those with up to $500,000 in yearly income). Just one voter's opinion.

marcus alrealius alrightus said...

I second the idea of a voter guide. I just hope that it is less biased than the one before the primaries in the News-Leader that only listed Republican candidates. No liberal bias with our local fish-wrap rag.

Betty B. said...

Fact is, Claire was born in Rolla, her first home was in Houston where her father worked at the mill, then moved to Lebanon, and then to Columbia where she graduated from High School. She worked her way through college and then law school, and then clerked for the Missouri Court of Appeals in Kansas City. She worked as assistant prosecutor in Kansas City before becoming a state legislator in 1982. She became Jackson County Prosecutor in 1993, and Missouri Auditor in 1999. This is from the biography on her website for those who are interested in the facts.

Her support of ethanol production is one part of her plan for energy independence, again spelled out in detail on her website

Matt Norris said...

Talent is running an ad on the radio saying she "voted against" the ethanol bill, or something similar to that would you to believe as much.

Comically, McCaskill's campaign can have the same amount of inaccuracies and omissions pointed out in their ads.

Unless you take the time to actually look at legislation they have or have not supported by getting into actual state records and their past public statements, you're going to be making a very uninformed vote. Political ads are not intended to be more than marginally truthful, and they never have been. They're a borderline waste of money in the first place. If I knew that 5% of voters were "undecided", I'd be scheduling one debate right after another with the opposition to help them make up their minds, not running ads that are likely to cause them to change the channel/hit the tuner on their radio.

I'd be interested to see a poll that asks voters who respond they're "undecided" what specific piece of information they're going to use to help them make their decision. If they answer "radio and television ads", I would hope the poll would follow that questions with: "Do you believe these ads are truthful?"

bobicus tomatocus said...

@marcus: I completely agree with you. Any voter guide should have ALL candidates, including those who are third party.

@betty: First off, Last I checked, Rolla was more in CENTRAL Missouri and not Southwest Missouri. It is actually closer to St. Louis than Springfield I think.

Houston and Lebanon are definitely closer to SW Missouris area, but they are more in the 8th District and are still more toward the middle part of the state.

My point? She is trying to say she is from an area so she "understands" our values when she in fact does not. She is from the Kansas City area and is about as left wing/socialst as you can get without being a member of the Green Party.

I might add that the whole advertisment and lexicon thing goes to your whole book thing you posted earlier, except on the Democratic side.

Now, regarding working with Democrats in the senate. If you kept up with politics as much as I think you do and if you were being intellectually honest you would know and understand Talent is probably one of the more cooperative and moderate Republicans.

In fact your whole spill about Talent "supporting issues which democrats oppose" is, well, laughable at best. Mostly because Talent is a Republican and has different views than Democrats. Talent has done a remarkable job at getting bills passed while working with democratic senators whose single job has been since 2002 to obstruct Bush and the Republican party at every turn, even at the cost of national security. Being able to work in this environment is an accomplishment.

I would hope that voters would look at his voting record closely. Then look at how/where Claire wants to vote and more importantly, who recruited her to run for the senate. It is none other than Senator Chuck Schumer of New York who makes Hillary look like a moderate. That is where loyalty lies.

I am sorry, but she does not reflect Missouri values, let alone SW Missouri values. That matters when the chips fall and its time to vote for somthing constructive or on how issues are addressed; especially considering national security and government's role in our lives.

Matt Norris said...

Ha, did anybody read this Time article about Nancy Pelosi today. If opposites attract, she and Karl Rove would be great friends.

marcus alrealius alrightus said...

Jim Talent's views come closer to representing the views of the would be candidate from Aurora than most Missourians I know. As in this following quote from the junior Senator from Missouri during a hearing on torture.

"If our guys want to poke somebody in the chest to get the name of a bomb maker so they can save the lives of Americans, I'm for it."

Talent knew exactly type of behavior he was condoning and exactly what had occured at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

Cato said...

Betty, thank you for the facts.

I would also like to point out that Claire openly admitted that she forgot SWMO in the last election (on all news channels), but she will not make that mistake again.

Well Im glad that after 4 statewide runs she will finally pay attention to us. Does she not serve all of MO now?? But only cares about us now that she is running.

She ought to put on her website how she will treat the whole state fairly.

In fact I would like someone to ask her that in the debate here.

Cato said...

So Marcus you want to coddle terrorists at the expense of Americans or any innocent people?

We should pay their families $25,000 to commit suicide and injure people. I guess someone should since Sadaam is not.

bobicus tomatocus said...

@marcus: First off, you are trying to link Talent to what you believe are "extreme" happenings.

No one in their right mind believed that Abu Grahib was right. It wasnt. It was clearly out of boundries. The fact is, those people were already under prosecution.

What was even worse, though, was the use of the incident by Democrats and specifically Mary Mapes and the "MSM" to try and exasterbate the situation to get extra points in the polls. This included a false story printed by the Boston Globe complete with a fake photograph taken from a porn video.

The result in Iraq were devestating. My friend who lives in Baghdad was able to walk around freely before the incident with only a side arm. After the incident he needed body gaurds and travel in convoys just to move out of the green zone.

This is a perfect example of how many thousands have died because the media and Democrats sought to undermine our forces and the war in Iraq - all so they can get back in power.

As for club gitmo. Most Americans understand that giving those terrorist what comes down to a bill of rights will weaken our ability to prosecute the war on terror. It is comments like yours which allow the public at large to know that you just do not understand what the GWoT is about.

It may very well be why we are able to retain the house and senate. It is why Claire dodged the question about Joe Lieberman and perhaps why Dave did not seek to follow up that hard on the question.

Finally, I believe that most Americans would agree with Talent's statment that if poking somebody in the chest would save American's lives, he would be for it.

So please, Claire, do me a favor and tell people that you are for giving terrorist who would wish us all death "legal rights" in the middle of a war.

Dont take my comments out of context either. While we should have privacy rights and so forth, our guys in the field must have the tools to be able and defeat these guys. They must not be held back on legal technicalities or go back to a pre 9-11 set that terrorist should be fought with law enforcement or tucking tail and running like in Somolia. We saw what that did.

Matt Norris said...

I find it interesting that an apparent Democratic strategy this time around seems to be "a vote for a Republican = a vote for George Bush". It's actually a legitimate strategy, if half the voting population is nitwits. I don't think a vote for Clair McCaskill = a vote for Nancy Pelosi, nor do I believe a vote for Jim Talent = a vote for Rove. That being said, listening to people debate politics over drinks at a restaraunt or coffee in the morning has me convinced that a fair chunk of U.S. voters have absolutely no idea what they're voting for.

I had one guy telling me that terrorists in Iraq would "win" if we left. When I asked him: "How, exactly, do you think we ought to motivate Sunnis and Shiites to simply throw their hands up in exasperation, have a moral epiphany, and decide that the disagreements they've had for umpteen dozen years that convinced them to kill each other on a daily basis - all of those disagreements were wrong?"

The guy just looked at me blankly and said "well, we can't just pull out". Bologne, we can and should pull out. It is ludicrous to expend U.S. lives, dollars, and regional political capital waiting for these people to have a moment of clarity and change their ways. Iran is turning into a mess, with their president making some of the most head-scratch inducing comments in the recent history of political leaders. Yet, our reputation is so shot in the Middle East, half the people there are convinced Iran should have nuclear technology, despite this man's absurd statements directed at Israel.

Pull out of Iraq, right now. I'm tired of hearing people who advocate this being called "cut and runners" or "appeasers". The fact is, George Bush simply refuses to admit the place is a mess, and he can't even give a clear plan for the future. I haven't even heard a military mind give a clear plan for the future. You can't bring about social change with military force. Of course, Saddam Hussein forced them to play nice by simply squashing dissenters. Somehow, I doubt that there is much support in the U.S. for installing a Hussein-like government.

The whole point of this rant is that everything I just mentioned above isn't even common knowledge to a lot of Americans who will vote. They have got no clue about the seriousness of the problem between ethical groups in Iraq, and they are too willing to listen to politicians spewing garbage about each other and various issues. Southwest Missouri is especially bad: Some of the comments I hear on the morning news about Iraq, Iran, stem cell research, etc. are simply unbelievable.

PbBut said...

So Bob, the Boston Globe, Mary Mapes, and the main street media are responsible for the "devastating results" in Iraq? Are you serious? It has nothing to do with the policy and its implementation?
Your condescending "pat on the head" indicating that others just don't understand the global war on terror, is part of the same mentality of arrogance and perceived superiority that has allowed us to make mistake after mistake in the war in Iraq. The disillusionment with the war has less to do with dissatisfaction than it does frustration, at taking two steps back and one step forward.
"Stay the Course" is a sound bite, not a policy.

bobicus tomatocus said...

@Matt: I encourage you to talk to an actual Iraqi. Go to and send an email with what you posted above. I am sure you will get a very interesting response.

You post some honest observations here. I would agree with the fact that many Americans and Missourians do not understand the whole situation in Iraq.

What you, and many others, do not understand is that Iran is the one fanning the flames right now. They have been for a while. Al Sadr and his "militia" and a number of similar groups are being paid for and armed by Iran.

Likewise, about 87% of the country is stable. The main issue continues to be sectarian violence in and around the "Sunni Triangle."

Most Iraqis want the violence to stop and are working very hard for this to happen, but it takes time to build their defenses. It is happening very slowly and with no media coverage.

For instance. Did you know that violence in Baghdad dropped about 30% in the past two weeks? That is because of the ramped up security.

Bet you didnt know Iraq has about 340,000 security troops as well, did you? Their main probably is sorta like the Green Bay Packers. They have talent and heart, but no experience.

Finally, the man you were discussing this issue is correct. If you understood our enemy enough you would know that part of the problem with the war on terror is that we seem week. Not just us, but the whole west.

Many of these extremist positions is a goal to convert the world to Islam at the end of a gun point. That is a fact underscored by the recent war in Lebenon and the kid knapping of two fox journalist who were made to "convert" for propaganda pourposes.

Every time we shrink from them, they become embolden.

If we followed your cut and run strategy, and that is what is - cut and run, then it would lead to thousands of more deaths.

My "reality based" example is Somolia.

The whole "black hawk down" scenario emboldened Bin Laden. In fact Al Qeada had its hands in the whole situation.

After they saw us take a bloody nose and leave they (Islamic extremist) saw us as a paper tiger. Indeed.

We got hit with the first WTC bombing, then the Kenya embassy, Kobar Towers and the USS Cole. Our response? Chuck a couple of cruiser missiles.

We all know what happened next, 9-11.

It was only after we got serious and realized that we had a war declared on us and that we had to go on the offense.

Now, we can debate until the cows come home whether or not Iraq was a wise move in the GWoT.

The question is now, are we going to stick out and win or are we going to give terrorist a huge victory they so desperately wish and need. It really does all come down to that.

In my mind we should be debating different victory strategies, not whether or not we should be surrendering to terrorist. That is what we would be doing.

Bin Laden once said that all you need to do to defeat America is to mount up the causulties a little and the media would do the rest. That we had no stomach for a fight.

It looks like sadly, he is correct.

How many more 9-11s will we face before we understand who we are fighting and on what terms they are fighting.

bobicus tomatocus said...

@pb: You are correct. "Stay the course" is what the media elected to coin the term to stick it out in Iraq. The strategy is vastly more complex than you are giving it credit for.

Yes, the MSM is a key element in the GWoT and what is going on in Iraq.

The terrorist see that we are in a weak state and are emboldened.

It is a fact that Marry Mapes was the producer who was caught red handed trying to pawn off forged documents as legit with CBS, as was the Boston Globe story. In both cases the media were trying desperately hard to sink the Bush campaign, and his presidency. They are still working at it.

I might add that it is a fact that media manipulation is in the Al Qeada hand book.

Dont believe me, ask an Iraqi. I have. I have asked several of them through their blogs.

If you cannot tell, I do not believe the media, so I go straight to the source and ask Iraqis what is going on in their country. It is quite amazing.

Finally, this country's "disillusionment" is based on the fact that it seems like we are not making progress. If the American public knew a FRACTION of the successes which are going on in Iraq, opinions would be drastically changed.

But alas, it does not fit the media template and would not lead to a Democratic majority.

Never mind that we are emboldening our enemies in the process and are essentially creating a larger threat to contend with.

I ask you again, if you dont believe me, talk to an Iraqi.

They, like most of us including my self, do not want us to stay there one more moment than we have to. There is a job to do, though. That is why supporting the troops means supporting the mission and defeating the islamic extremism.

I am sorry, but I do not believe that with our state of media and partisanship we could ever fight and win WW2.

marcus alrealius alrightus said...

Wow bobicus, I sorta feel like I got a year's worth of Limbaugh/Hannity/Ingraham/Savage, etc. in about 5 paragraphs.

Talent sat through those hearings and he knows full well that what occured in those prisons was well beyond a "poke in the chest." People died at the hands of American interrogators and at this point from what I have read there's a big question in my mind of whether any of these detainees were more than hapless civilians that were caught up in circumstances beyond their control. Of course since there's no oversight allowed how can we know?

The underlying premise of your argument is based on the false logic that the acknowledgement of offense is the problem, while neatly evading the actions of those involved in the torture. Of course this can be taken a step further and we can examine the logic of the war itself which was also based on an ever-growing mountain of falsehoods. You know the old rigamarole -- we're fighting them over there so that we don't have to fight them here, WMD's, freedom is on the march, etc.

So, yeah, I do understand a thing or two about this war on terror. We threw a lit match into a can of gasoline and destabilized an entire region of the world. Unfortunately for us Bush is ready to throw more gas on the fire. Heaven help us.

PbBut said...

First of all, I'm not from the cut and run school. I'm more aligned with the Powell school, "You break it, you buy it". In our own way, we've broken it. I believe it would be unconscionable to arbitrarily walk away from Iraq after much of the ill will there was fostered by us. And stay the course is NOT a media creation, it is the Bush Administration's policy. If, at his next public speaking engagement, Bush doesn't say "Stay the Course" at least once in relation to Iraq...well, you know the rest.
We had a chance to create a democratic state in the region. It's called Afghanistan. Here was a place we also easily occupied. A "tabula rasa" that was truly looking for opportunities to break out of the Middle Ages. We were welcome and we were right to be there. If we could have created an advancing democratic nation in Afghanistan, what would it's neighbors do then? Arguably the most backward country in the region, they might have been more accepting of our influence. What happened? The cowboy couldn't leave it in the holster.