East Texans Speak Out About Distorted Political Ads

Is perception, reality in Texas politics?

"He looks green," says Trenity Gardner.

Many East Texas voters aren't impressed by the deliberate distortion of TV ads.

Reporter asks, "What did that make john sharp look like?" Gardner replies, "It made him look like a bad guy. I wouldn't want to vote for him by that picture."

When it comes to campaign ads, the candidate you see portrayed on TV by his opponent or their party may not be the candidate running for office.

"They are basically fabrications," says David Ligon, TJC government professor. "You take a partial truth and you turn it into such a direction you want it to reflect the candidate."

Government professor David Ligon says voters are inevitably influenced by what they see.

"They either get very incensed by believing what the ad says and in many cases they get turned off to the point they don't want to cast a vote for either side," says Ligon.

Trenity, an average voter is a prime example of that. "I wouldn't want to vote for him (Dewhurst) either."

Many candidates, political analysts and voters agree this year's edition of negative political spots aren't just negative.... "They are definitely taking the shots that's going to portray them in the most negative light," says Robert Finney, voter.

Some of the ads often distort reality.

"When the ad first came on in my house, I hear this hysterical laughing downstairs," says John Sharp, (D) candidate for Lt. Governor.

One of the most talked about is ad is one where you see democratic candidate for Lt. Governor John Sharp, but do you really see John Sharp the candidate.

"I hear my daughter about a week later who saw it who is 14 years old and she was calling a friend of hers and she said turn to Channel 7 my dad looks like Jim Belushi so she thinks it's kind of funny but it is kind of shameful when you think about," says Sharp.

Of course, the negativity goes both ways.

Reporter asks, "In one of your ads, he looks a little green." Sharp replies, "I don't know anything about the green."

And some voters don't know anything about what the candidates in Texas stand for, other than against each other.

"They always get really bad towards the end of it," says Jason Benge, a voter. "They don't have anything good to say."

"When the democratic party put in about 6 1/2 half million in negative soft money we didn't have any alternative but to defend myself," says John Cornyn, (R) candidate for U.S. Senate.

A defense that's costing Republicans and Democrats alike millions in less than flattering ads. If you ask voters, there could be a bigger cost for our state and national government all together.

"Anyone who attacks each other like that doesn't seem like they would really be able to work together and get things done," says Benge.

Despite the negative ads, voter turnout in East Texas is up in the early voting.

Dana Dixon Reporting