Dr. Smith

COLUMBUS, Miss. -- Have you ever listened to a political candidate’s speech and wondered, “What are they actually saying?”

As a potential voter, it might be in one’s best interest to know where candidates stand on particular issues related to his or her interests.

The 2016 presidential race is sure to rev up in the coming months, and with it the public is sure to hear an earful from prospective candidates eager to impress their constituents.

For the lay person, politics and specifically political analysis can be difficult to wrap one’s head around. For Dr. Melissa Smith, assistant professor of communication at Mississippi University for Women, political parsing is her forte.

According to Smith, it is actually in a candidate’s best interest to come off slightly vague because if they are too straightforward it may lead to trouble for their campaign.

“The reason it is dangerous is that by being specific, you give your opponent(s) ammunition to attack you. So, in many respects, it is safer for someone running for office to be somewhat vague.”

As an example, ever heard a candidate say something to the effect of “Let’s make our country great again.” While the statement doesn’t explain why our country isn’t in great shape nor does it explain what the candidate will do to improve the state of the country, it’s all ambiguous, Smith explained. Yet, the phrase will appeal to voters, because why wouldn’t everyone want a great country, Smith added.

On top of that, such a statement may resonate with voters based on issues they feel strongly about.

With so many candidates still in the race, it is still too early to place bets; however, Smith suggests voters do their homework.

She said, “It’s important that those who vote be aware of what candidates stand for and how they have voted or led in the past.”

It is more reliable to do research on how a candidate has voted in the past and see whether or not their interests align with yours and not just listening to rhetoric, she added.

Sept. 15, 2015
Contact: Tevin Arrington
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