Judging by what readers of The Post and Courier have experienced in the presidential campaign of 2016, the phone calls invading your home have been the most offensive.
And it’s not just the pre-recorded “robocalls” from candidates or their surrogates that seemingly arrive just as you are sitting down for dinner.
The human-delivered phone messages from campaign volunteers or professional phone banks are just as annoying, according to some of the 30 reports filed by readers to the newspaper’s Whisper Campaign page.
The paper launched the reader-fed website two weeks ago as a feature for listing allegedly questionable or underhanded political stunts.
Consider these two:
“Phone call received from Ted Cruz campaign,” one said. I’ve heard a lot of things from politicians but this one took me aback. I was told to pray about Ted Cruz’s campaign. I was like ‘huh?’ ”
“The phone rang and I answered. The man said are you voting for cruz and I said no I was voting for either Trump or Rubio. The man said Mr Trump wants to expand obamacare and make us pay more and Mr Rubio wants to bring all the mexicans in and move them into my neighborhood. I got very upset.”
Nearly half the complaints to the site were phone-call related.
Others readers complained about thefts.
“Trump Signs are being stolen, They keep the frames and use them for JEB BUSH. When we catch them some FINGERS will be BROKEN!”
The Post and Courier responded: “Please don’t resort to violence.”
While there is no early evidence of mass conspiracies by one candidate against another in the reports, media experts who follow political advertising and other forms of mass communication say the common denominator running through many of these sorts of political contacts, when delivered with a negative slant, is voter suppression.
“In general, political ads don’t change people’s opinion,” said Mark Tatge, a Baldwin Fellow at the University of South Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication whose realm includes studying the decline of truth in society.
And when those messages arrive as part of an overwhelming negative flood — such as what South Carolina is experiencing — instead of getting voters fired up, Tatge said, the process turns distasteful.
“They say ‘the hell with it’ and throw in the towel,” he said.
The Whisper Campaign Web feature will continue to run through the GOP primary on Saturday and during the S.C. Democratic primary vote Feb. 27.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 843-937-5551.