Despite the incessant political attack ads on TV ahead of Tuesday’s election, voters need to know that it’s not their imagination if they’re feeling shortchanged in their need for substantive information from candidates.
VoteSmart.org has found that only 20 percent of the 1,282 candidates for Congress are willing to provide voters or the media with direct answers to issue questions on Vote Smart’s National Political Courage Test. Candidates prefer to shield themselves from the opposition’s research. In Missouri it was 28 percent. Kansas was 17 percent.
Ranked from worst to best, Missouri came in 37th among the states, and Kansas was a poor 18th. Massachusetts, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and South Dakota with zero candidate returns tied for the top spot of worst. North Dakota followed by Alaska had the best returns.
The 2014 national response rate of only 20 percent marks a steady and dramatic decline compared with 72 percent in the mid-1990s and even 23 percent in 2012, Vote Smart said in a prepared release.
“This is due in part to the documented advice of party leaders and campaign consultants to play it safe and not expose themselves to their opponents,” the release said. “Republican and Democrat candidate response rates over the years have been virtually the same. While their positions on the issues vary, their campaign tactics are in lockstep.”
That’s not good for people who want to be informed before casting their ballots on Tuesday. That lack of openness isn’t good for the country either because then the electorate can’t be sure of what the candidate might do or to whom and for how much that person will genuflect once in office.