Candidates Spending Millions on Undecided Ohio Voters

The midwestern U.S. state of Ohio is key to winning the presidency. Within that state is a small county in the northeastern part that consistently votes for the candidate who wins the election.  Voters there can’t turn on a TV show without seeing a political advertisement.

Halloween decorations in Ohio share the yard with political signs. Ohio is called "the batteground of all battleground states" and it could decide the election.  

The midwestern state is a cross-section of America: urban and suburban. Rural and industrial.

Stark County is a bellwether county, meaning it chose the winning candidate in nearly every election over the last 50 years.  

In one house in Stark County's township of Perry sits the target of both campaigns: an undecided voter.

Gust Callas changes the channel to cable TV, trying to avoid the ads vyying for his vote. In the past two months, he's watched plenty. "Probably 300 to 400 of them easily," Callas said.  

He can't escape the campaigns. They call him. They write him at work. They interrupt his music as he drives. And, they surround his workout at the gym.  

Callas resents them, but says they don't sway him. He describes himself as five percent either side of the middle, a voter who picks the candidate not the party.

“I’m waiting to see who’s going above the fray.  In my opinion, being snarky or spinning or distorting the truth -- to me, that’s not my president," Gust said.

The candidates have already spent a record $2 billion, more than $100 million, just on Ohio ads.  

According to Kantar and Wesleyan Media, Callas is watching some of the 8,000 ads purchased in northeast Ohio.

In the final weeks of a tight race, psychologists say one ad can make a difference.

But this year, many agree, they are more frequent and more negative than ever.

”I just turn the channel. They don’t do anything for me.  I tune them out,“ said one man.

Back inside, Callas flips the channel too. 

“I’m going to wait and see, and I may make that decision when I’m at the ballot box,” Callas said.

For now, the millions spent on him aren't working.

Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters. She has also won numerous Associated Press TV, Radio, and Multimedia awards, as well as a Clarion for her TV coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, Google Glass & Other Wearables, and the 9/11 Anniversary.

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