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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.

New Jersey State Legislative Candidates Lack Courage

2011 October 13 - Carly Griffin

GREAT DIVIDE RANCH, MT., October 13, 2011 - Project Vote Smart released the 2011 Political Courage Test results today for New Jersey state legislative candidates showing only seventeen percent (17%) of candidates were willing to answer issue-related questions addressed inside the Test. Even following repetitious requests by mail, fax, and e-mail, including contacts from leaders of their own political parties, New Jersey candidates' still failed to provide voters with information on how they may handle the job if hired this November. As part of a growing national trend, Political Courage 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 that question are presented with several issue ...

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