Free speech is all well and good, but many Americans find it annoying in the context of elections. A recent CBS News poll asked registered voters whether they think presidential-campaign commercials “are unnecessary and should be eliminated.”
Though 60 percent said such spots are necessary, 32 percent would like to see an end to them. Voters were also asked whether they’d favor Al Gore’s proposal that he and George W. Bush eliminate TV spots and instead debate twice a week. Sixty-five percent thought this would be a “good idea,” versus 30 percent terming it a “bad idea.”
Is this because civic-minded voters want to watch two presidential debates a week? Hah! The real reason they’d prefer debates to TV spots is that debates—confined to specific times and places on the TV dial—are easy to ignore. Campaign commercials, by contrast, turn up at any time and can’t be dodged. For the same reason, I’d bet most Americans would prefer that McDonald’s and Burger King hold twice-weekly debates instead of running commercials all the time.
unknown, April 10, 2000, Adweek
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