Presidential race entering crucial stage, analysts say

Emily Brink

As the presidential candidates enter their final leg of campaigning before the Nov. 7 election, ISU political science analysts said it is a crucial time for the candidates to make a personal impression on the public.

After the nationally televised debates ended last week, the mainstream candidates, Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore, will be working hard to increase their lead over the other, said Steffen Schmidt, university professor of political science.

“I think they are going to try to make up for what did not happen in the debate,” he said. “What they are doing now is strategizing and identifying the reasons they are not ahead after the debates.”

The election is going to come down to who is more likable in the public eye, said Aaron Fister, president and producer of Politics Unlimited, an ISU-9 program.

“This whole race is now about personality and not the issues,” said Fister, junior in management information systems.

With that in mind, the candidates are relying on heavy media usage to reach swing voters, Schmidt said.

“They are now ramping up a really massive media campaign,” he said.

In order to keep themselves in the public eye, the candidates are making television appearances on Jay Leno, the Rosie O’Donnell Show, and various other “non-journalistic” shows, Fister said.

Because they do not have any more debates, the main way the candidates can reach voters who have not decided on one candidate is with commercials, Schmidt said.

However, media is not the only tool used by the candidates to reach out to voters. This year more than any other election year in history, the candidates are hitting the road and traveling around the country to influence voters, Schmidt said.

“This year is different because the candidates cannot afford to miss any state,” he said.

No matter the campaigning technique, Fister said it has become progressively negative since the final debate last week. He said he predicts that if one candidate gets a five-point lead or more over the other in the national polls, the underdog will attack aggressively.

“It could get really ugly,” Fister said.