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Austin Voters Try to Focus on the Issues Amidst Primary Candidates' Appeals to Anger

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon for KUT News

Voters in primary states begin casting ballots for a new president starting next week.   

So far, many of the presidential front-runners owe their success to their ability to appeal to voter frustration and anger, but other voters say the negative feelings fueling this year’s election are an even bigger concern.

“It kind of frightens the hell out of me, to be honest,” says Austin visitor Mike Armstrong. The conservative-leaning voter says he understands why so many voters are angry.

Every four years voters are promised change, Armstrong says, but that almost never happens. He says that although he gets where people are coming from, he’s scared the anger people feel will be the sole motivating force behind this election.

“I think there is an anger that candidates like [Bernie] Sanders on one side and [Donald] Trump and [Ted] Cruz on the other are tapping into and, because of that, I think voters are voting 100 percent with their emotion,” he says.

Armstrong says, as a result, some serious candidates aren’t getting a fair shake.

Kristin Dobson, a libertarian-leaning conservative, isn’t happy with tone of the campaign so far. She thinks the way in which people are talking about presidential candidates is pretty silly.

“They are just making fun of one another and not actually having substantive thoughts that will change our country, and that’s what everyone is focusing on. It might be the media, or it might be them,” she says. “I don’t know. But it’s sad."

Left-leaning voters, like Komal Patel, are also a little skittish.

More than ever, Patel says, she hopes voters consider serious candidates. She’s nervous because she feels some voter frustration is pinned on minorities.

“It’s really scary to think minorities are being made out to be such bad guys consistently,” Patel says. “All these things are really scary and reminiscent of a country I feel like I don’t live in.”

Jay Bhavsar, who also leans toward Democratic candidates, is optimistic. He says voters will make a sensible choice and, even if they’re nominated, he doesn’t think some of the more sensational candidates will win in the general election.

“I don’t think it will happen,” he says. “I think when we come to a general consensus around the entire country, I don’t think it will happen. But, I mean, if you have two teams playing the Super Bowl, anybody can win right?”

A new poll from the Pew Research Center shows that voters are skeptical that front-runners in either party would make a good president, whether it’s Trump, Sanders or Hillary Clinton.

The Iowa caucuses are Feb. 1, followed by primaries in New Hampshire. Texans get to cast their ballots on Mar. 1.

Ashley Lopez covers politics and health care. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @AshLopezRadio.
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