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Michigan voters lukewarm on presidential hopefuls

Jun 19, 2015

Presidential hopeful Jeb Bush.
Credit Flickr user Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The list of presidential hopefuls grows each week, and it seems voters here in Michigan and across the country are unimpressed with this crop of candidates.

WDIV/Detroit News survey released yesterday shows Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker each drew more “unfavorable” than “favorable” ratings.

While the responses accurately reflect voters' fatigue with constant campaigning, there's more to the story than simply high unfavorable ratings, says David Dulio, chair of the Department of Political Science at Oakland University.

He says often polling results don't point out the large number of voters who haven't yet formed an opinion on the candidate in question. So while most voters have already decided how they feel about Jeb Bush and Hilary Clinton because of their notoriety, candidates with less name recognition still have a chance to make an impression on undecided voters.

And with more candidates having announced their plans to enter the race this week, "it certainly does seem like we are always in campaign mode,” Dulio says.

But the idea of a limited campaign season just isn't the American way.

"We have this pesky little thing called the First Amendment that allows individuals and candidates for office or would-be candidates for office to talk about politics and talk about government in any way that they want at any time," Dulio says.

If the government attempted to limit campaigning to a set number of weeks, Dulio says it would be immediately draw a legal challenge.

Along with the ability to endure constant campaigning, candidates must also be able to quickly change their tone if they want to appeal to voters in the general election.

During the primary season, candidates often have to pander to their party's biggest supporters in order to win the nomination. But Dulio says they must quickly transition to speaking to moderates and independents in order to win the presidency.

But candidates still have a chance to secure the attention and focus of voters.

Dulio says hopefuls have to talk about issues that are relevant to voters. "If voters hear candidates discussing issues that are important to them, they'll pay attention."