I am very much looking forward to November 8. Why? Yes, it’s election day. It also signals when the political ads will stop airing every 30 seconds during our prime time newscast.
If you’re like me, you’ve been bombarded by poorly designed and jarring political ads over the past few months from candidates on both sides of the aisle. Since I have a Master’s in Mass Communication from a school that specializes in political science, watching these ads is an exercise in reading between the lines. I start election season by relishing in dissecting each ad for its good points and its flaws, decoding who their intended audience of swing voters are, and doing the mental math of whether or not the campaign feels like they’re in trouble based on ad frequency. I know, I’m a wonky nerd. You can take the girl out of Washington, DC, but you can’t take the District out of the girl.
Even though I start out strong, I become disgusted as we approach Halloween because I’m just so over it. Fatigue is real.
What is incredibly clear is that there is a lot at stake in this election for women and caregivers. If you do a simple tally of the issues a candidate or PAC talks about in their ads, you’ll get a general sense. Arguably, we had the most to lose in the pandemic with more than 850,000 women dropping out of the workforce in the pandemic, citing childcare issues and other causes. The Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court decision brings abortion and women’s health care to the top of the issues list for voters. The elephant in the room is our economy, and with women controlling 80% of the average household spending, TKTKTK
Historically, midterms have a lower voter turnout than presidential election, and I’d argue they hold the most indirect influence on how much can be done to further our policies toward an America we’re proud of. It takes a big issue to galvanize voters to pay attention. For this election cycle, that issue may be abortion rights. Polls show that, even if abortion rights aren’t the top issue of importance for voters, it has spurred them to show up to the ballot box.
As you approach voting this year, knowing that you’re likely checking boxes in local and federal races, I wanted to share a bit about what I consider as I approach election season.
- I unsubscribe to all political party emails. Seriously. I sign up for both Republican and Democrat committee emails each cycle to see what messaging is being used, especially in my state. Once we get to October, I unsubscribe for them all because they really raise my anxiety level. You have to protect your peace.
- Remember that local races matter. Who you elect in your city and state actually make more of a difference in your daily life. Concerned about the taxes in your area? Look at who is on the ballot for city and state seats to make the difference. Don’t skip over the local races on the ballot because they don’t have as much airtime on TV.
- Watch political ads with the local vs. federal lens. I see a lot of our Washington state challengers pointing to incumbents and dragging them through the mud on local issues – something they have very little control over in their federal role. Think through which issues you care about on a local, state and federal level. If you’re watching ads, think about which candidates actually have the remit in their elected job to move the needle. It makes for good talking points on political ads, but it misleads voters.
Above all – no matter how you vote – just VOTE. Continue to protect our democratic right to have our voices heard at the ballot box. Thanks to mail-in voting, our ballots are submitted and counted. We’re ready to bust out the popcorn and watch results on Nov. 8.