Tense political climate could affect future elections

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Political races are getting more and more polarized, and some say that it could change the way people view elections.

It’s a trend that Dr. Zachary Neal says has been growing since the 1970s.

“Where we are now is really the end stage of a very long process,” Neal said. “We’re really at the pinnacle of polarization right now.”

But Neal says part of that dynamic is created by voters and what they want to see and hear from candidates, especially on their platforms and values. 

“We’re seeing the American voter pull the parties apart and this increasing… opposition between the parties,” Neal said, “and that gets reflected once they get elected, the way they interact with one another in Congress.”

Voters said they’ve noticed more attacks in political ads this season and it’s getting harder to find the information they’re looking for in order to make a decision.

“In the last nine to ten years,” East Lansing resident Ben Barkman said, “I agree they’ve probably gotten more negative…in connotation, more attacking instead of like, representation of what your values may be or what they are standing for.”

But some young voters say the tense political climate only motivates them more to get out and vote, and to stay tuned in with political coverage.

“I think you definitely have to take time and research,” Barkman said. “I think you have to kind of like give yourself over to it. You can’t just kind of be halfhearted about it.”

Officials are still expecting a record-breaking turnout despite the political climate, but Neal says there’s no doubt that the divisive nature of this election cycle has already had an impact on voters this year. 

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