Florida Voters Notice Negative Ads, Wonder What They're Worth

Voters endure onslaught of negative ads, differ on what they're worth.

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Windermere, Fla. – Florida voters say they don't like all the negative advertising they've been subjected to over the last 10 days, but have different opinions about how much of an impact it has had.

At a polling center in Windermere, Fla., a suburb of Orlando, Jeff Tepper says he would support a limit on how much candidates can spend.

"We want the people to decide the election, not money," says Tepper, a supporter of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Gingrich has been heavily outspent by his rival for the GOP presidential nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Romney and independent groups supporting him have spent about $20 million on mostly negative ads in the Sunshine State.

[Florida Is Do or Die for Newt Gingrich.]

"You can't have somebody spend $20 million and somebody else spends $2 million. It doesn't make it a fair fight," Tepper says, adding that they do have an impact and some voters "get turned off, there's no question."

Aaron Hassen of Windermere, who voted for former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, says the media blows the importance of negative advertising out of proportion and that most people ignore it.

"My take on negative advertising is we've seen it in Florida year after year for decades now and it's nothing new," he says. "So at this point you begin to tune things out. What's kind of comical is how the news media--it becomes a circus for them, they get so involved and it's this big drama that goes on."

Hassen says the average voter like him "just kinds of sits back and laughs and we actually look at the issues."

[U.S. News Debate Club: Are Super PACs Harming U.S. Politics?]

Another Gingrich supporter from Windermere named Kim, who declined to give her last name, is specifically critical of Romney.

"I guess I don't like the cutthroat advertising I've been seeing lately," she says. "I understand you get mad, but you don't bring it out in commercials. You don't want to see that come the general election time either."

Like Tepper, she says it's better to focus on the issues.

"Just tell me what you got; I don't want to hear this person did this and that," Kim says. "Get over it. It's been how many years? We all did something in our past."

E-mail: rmetzler@usnews.com

Twitter: @rebekahmetzler

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