The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


October 28, 2012

Elections ignite passions

Candidates, supporters sometimes overzealous

— With a little more than a week remaining until the presidential election, national pollsters tell us some Americans still are undecided about which candidate will get their vote.

Fortunately, there aren’t many of these wobblers left in the electorate – 3 percent are truly undecided and 12 percent are persuadable, pollsters say.

Are these people clueless or out of touch with the news? Not necessarily.

Even of those who have made up their minds, many locals tell us they’re really torn between President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney.

After three years of campaigning, two party conventions, four debates (including vice presidential), millions of dollars spent on advertising, and thousands of TV, newspaper and online stories, you would think it would be much defined.

But not only is there still indecision, there is still no clear-cut front-runner: Poll numbers for the past few weeks have fluctuated wildly and generally have the candidates separated by only 1 and 2 percentage points.

This race essentially is tied, and if ever a person’s vote was critical, it will be on Nov. 6.

From a newspaper standpoint, we have been impressed not only by the numbers of letter writers but by their passion.

In some cases, unfortunately, they have been overly passionate, to the point of being nasty. While large staffs have been employed to put together fact-check stories in the aftermath of the four national debates, some of our readers have complained we have been lax at times in keeping our writers straight.

Mostly, the complaints have come anonymously, and in all cases, they have involved letters criticizing the caller’s or writer’s candidate.

Go figure.

Here’s our defense. While we do our absolute best:

* It’s challenging to keep writers’ letters totally accurate when two men – one the leader of our nation, and the other, wanting to be, go on television before millions of Americans and, well, lie, or at least shade the truth. Writers figure, who best to attribute data to in letters than their own candidate?

* It’s a battle to convince writers their letters contain inaccuracies when television commentators and talk-show hosts and Internet websites offer them what they see as “proof.”

On a brighter note, over the past month, our editorial board has been able to meet with nine candidates for state or national offices.

We thank the following for their time and for sharing with us their thoughts, hopes and pledges:

Karen Ramsburg, candidate for 9th Congressional District seat; U.S. Rep. Mark Critz and his opponent, Keith Rothfus; state Sen. John Wozniak and his opponent, Timothy Houser; state Rep. Bryan Barbin and his opponent, Sherry Stalley; and state Rep. Gary Haluska and his opponent, Randall Wilson.

We believe every office up for election should have competition. That’s the American way, and we thank those who are providing opposition.

Campaigning through a primary election and into November can be not only costly but also hard on the individuals and their families.

While we have been urging our readers to become educated about the candidates, we will offer this week our insight and our candidate endorse-ments in these races. Our schedule:

* Wednesday: State House, 71st and 73rd districts.

* Thursday: State Senate, 35th district.

* Friday: U.S. House, 9th and 12th districts.

* Sunday: President.

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