After a long campaign season, voter fatigue sets in

Alexis Fairly
Alexis Fairly
Michael Hodges
Michael Hodges

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Just four days before the election, many Hawaii residents have come down with a case of voter fatigue and are saying "Enough already!" The long, drawn out campaign season has become a season of discontent.

In Manoa, young voters Alexis Fairly and Aleezah Camacho discussed this year's campaign over coffee. Camacho says, "There's more negativity than positivity - which is just a turnoff." They can't wait for Tuesday to come and go and say the barrage of brutal political ads won't get their peers to the polls.

"What you want to do is encourage them to vote, and these ads aren't really doing anything," says Fairly.

If it seems like this has been one long, endless campaign season, you're right. A special election last May, hotly contested primary and mayoral races last month, and now, the general election have many voters growing weary and worn-out.

"Fatigue is not a strong enough word," says political analyst, Dan Boylan. "Exhaust is the word, it really is."

Political experts say they've never seen a campaign season like this one - with Hawaii voters held somewhat captive by what's happening on the mainland.

In 2006, the last non-Presidential election year, special interests spent 68 million dollars on Congressional campaigns nationwide. This year, Boylan says, that number has already surpassed the quarter billion dollar mark. And with Hawaii's first Congressional district race still a toss-up, both national parties are pulling out all the stops.

Boylan explains, "It has a tone to it, attack ads, a number of ads, kinds of ads, radio, mailers - almost everyday."

Make that almost every hour.

On the radio and on TV, voters are getting inundated, and many aren't sure they've gained anything from these ads.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court gave corporations and organizations the right to give as much money as they wanted to political campaigns under the banner of free speech. That upped the ante and has changed the dynamic of this campaign year enormously.

"It's all about addressing our baser instincts rather than educating us so that we're an enlightened population," says Hawaii Kai voter Michael Hodges. "What we're getting is a huge amount of money dumped on us to influence us rather than inform us."

Some say they'll just be happy when the sign wavers have packed up for good. "I'm looking forward to maybe be able to focus on the road when I'm driving," says voter Gabriel Solis. "To me, it's kind of a distraction that they're out there."

When all is said and done, will the time and money be worth it? In 2006, only 53 percent of registered Hawaii voters turned out to cast a ballot.

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.