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The Behavior Research Center, a nonpartisan polling agency, released its Rocky Mountain Poll on Tuesday, July 29, detailing results from questions asked to voters all over the Southwest.Managing Editor Christopher Fox Graham

A month out from the primary election on Tuesday, Aug. 26, a vast majority of potential voters remain undecided about Arizona candidates, especially for governor.

On the Democratic side, Fred DuVal is running unopposed, so his campaign is waiting for the Republican primary to end.

Among Republicans and independents who plan to vote a Republican ballot on Arizona’s open primary, no candidate has emerged as a front-runner. Even more unusual with an election this late in the cycle, 50 percent of Republicans and 51 percent of independents are undecided. Former GoDaddy CEO Christine Jones is the tentative front-runner at 17 percent, followed by former Cold Stone Creamery CEO Doug Ducey at 13 percent, former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith at 8 percent, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett at 10 percent, former California congressman Frank Riggs at 2 percent and disbarred former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas hovering below 1 percent.

Most of the candidates, from both sides of the aisle, have visited Sedona on campaign stops and consented to interviews with our staff. While they have presented their goals as governor and ideas for Arizona’s future to residents, this conversational one-on-one tone with voters has not translated into meaningful support in the polls primarily because of negative campaigning.

While legislative and congressional candidates have taken a few well-deserved potshots at each other when the timing was appropriate, they mainly have pitched ideas or addressed legislative goals they hope to achieve. The gubernatorial candidates, however, are constantly on the offensive, targeting each other’s faux pas or public comments from years past.

Negative campaigning has existed as longs as our republic has because it is often easier to simply attack a candidate’s character than to attack the more complex policies they advocate.

Lawmakers are unlikely to impose restrictions on negative campaigning because it appears to be effective at winning them their seats. If candidates spend months attacking each other, is it any wonder that Americans have such little faith in our government or its lawmakers once they win office? Are we really surprised that voter turnout is so low when we are asked not to select the best candidate for the job but rather the lesser of two evils?

We should ignore attack ads if they appear on television or in email, or at least verify the context of a quote, opinion or vote. Call campaign offices and tell volunteers their negative attack ad on an opponent just lost them your vote. Cast your vote for candidates with the bigger ideas, not the bigger smear tactics. If our candidates refuse to be better people, then it’s up to us.

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