It's hard to learn much about the issues when these are the main talking points of the campaign, Frye indicates. "It's very frustrating. It seems they're just not addressing the issues and that they'd rather just attack each other. ... When one person is slamming the other, that doesn't do too much for me."
"This is all you see on TV," adds Bob Dimambro of Beverly. When the negative campaign ads come on, he nods, "I change the channel. You can only listen to so much. It's like they're trying to drill it into your head."
The drilling often hits pay dirt, Dimambro concedes, in the subconscious. Whether true or not, a negative message can subtly lower the esteem felt for this or that competitor. And it's all the more maddening when, as in the U.S. Senate race between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, he likes both candidates.
In some cases the ads, if you can trust them — a very big if — provide useful information, Dimambro believes. And that's true even when you wish you hadn't heard it.
Danvers resident Mickey Boltas makes that point even clearer. "Scott Brown," he says. "A great guy. I like him. But he leans toward the wealthier people."
That Brown favors "millionaires and billionaires" over the middle class has been the thrust of Warren's campaign. Brown, meanwhile, has attacked Warren's claims of Cherokee heritage, suggesting she got an unfair advantage from it.
Boltas, who favored Warren to start with, isn't bothered by her campaign material.
On the other hand, he doesn't think negative ads are always so helpful. He sees one or gets a mailing, and "I kind of shake my head. They're sometimes confusing." Such appeals from both sides can be filled with quotes taken out of context, exaggerations and outright falsehoods.