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Presidential Election Squeezing Out State Races

August 23, 2012

RALEIGH, N.C. - As a swing state, North Carolina has been flooded with presidential campaign ads for months, and voter advocates say the airwaves are only going to get more clogged with campaign commercials.

Brent Laurenz, executive director of the North Carolina Center for Voter Education, says it's making it tough for state races to get the attention they need for voters to make an educated decision.

"These down-ballot races can be completely overshadowed. Come October, if you turn on your TV or radio, all you're going to hear or see is ads for candidates for president."

Tonight in Raleigh, Laurenz's group and the League of Women Voters are hosting a forum to allow voters to learn more about the candidates for secretary of state and have the chance to ask questions.

Media outlets report that presidential campaigns already are purchasing ads in October, leading up to the election. While all eyes are on the presidential race, Laurenz says it's local elections that can have an immediate impact on North Carolinians.

"Down-ballot races often can set the tone for how the state functions and how it operates and what the overall vision is for the state."

According to a survey conducted by Public Policy Polling this month, 20 percent of voters are undecided on the secretary of state race in North Carolina, compared with only 5 percent of state residents undecided about the presidential election. Laurenz says that points to a lack of voter education about local candidates.

Information on the secretary of state candidate forum is online at facebook.com. Public Policy Polling NC Research is at publicpolicypolling.com.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC