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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Project Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

Mississippi Candidates Unwilling to Answer Issue Questions

2011 October 13 - Carly Griffin

GREAT DIVIDE RANCH, MT., October 13, 2011 - Mississippi gubernatorial candidates have received a zero percent (0%) Political Courage rating for the second consecutive election year, following their refusal to supply voters with their positions on key issues addressed inside Project Vote Smart's Political Courage Test. Not to be outdone, only five percent (5%) of Mississippi state legislative candidates were willing to answer questions posed by the Test, which covers issue areas including education, abortion, crime, and the economy. Mississippi candidates' unwillingness to provide voters with their issue positions is part of a growing national trend among candidates, as Test response rates have steadily fallen from a high of seventy-two percent (72%) in 1996, to an all-time low of thirty-eight percent (38%) in 2010. Project Vote Smart has found that party leaders and consultants from both major parties are advising candidates not to respond to the Test for two primary reasons: it will limit the candidates' ability to control their campaign messages and it will expose them to opposition research. "When candidates decide to hide behind talking points and manipulative campaign tactics, they are contributing to a deliberate dumbing down of the American electorate," said Richard Kimball, Project Vote Smart President. "When you keep your opponent in the dark, you keep the voter there as well." Since 1992, the Political Courage Test has asked all candidates in every state one central question: "Are you willing to tell citizens your positions on the issues you will most likely face if elected?" Candidates who reply "yes" to ...

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