Pinsonat: Budget Woes Grow Voter Apathy

Oct 20, 2015

Voter turnout was low last fall; expected to be lower this Saturday.
Credit S. Lincoln

More than a few political experts have voiced dismay over apparent voter apathy as we head into Saturday’s primary election. Bernie Pinsonat of Southern Media and Opinion Research addressed the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday, saying that’s because the budget problem – big as it is – is nothing new.

“The sky is falling has happened for the last seven years in Louisiana. We went broke – again. And that’s been going on forever.”

Lawmakers have managed to avoid implementing the doomsday scenarios, thus far. So many people believe they don’t have to worry right now.

“They know something’s wrong, but it hasn’t resulted in people paying more taxes,” Pinsonat explains.

And while the media has tried to awaken the public to what’s at stake this time, Pinsonat says, “They don’t believe us anymore. They don’t believe the headlines that the sky is falling and we’re going to close everything.”

Pinsonat believes the news coverage of the fiscal crisis is diverting voters from what they might otherwise focus on -- candidates’ personalities.

“When the candidates themselves are really pushed to the background, and there’s so much static and noise out there and it’s hard to break through – I think that also is a problem.”

He says the involvement of PACs and Super PACs in the races have also turned voter focus from the qualities candidates want voters to see.

“There’s an outside big wad of money sitting there, tearing down what you want to portray,” Pinsonat says, adding it’s not just because the political action committees are running negative ads.

“Negative ads really don’t turn off voters unless they’re really nasty.”

Instead, it means more PACs and more money are needed, simply to play defense.

“You have to have to have another group in the other room figuring out how can I overcome all these negative ads distorting my image I’m trying to portray in the campaign.”

And, Pinsonat says, that results in more noise, and less voter engagement.