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Presidential Race Turning Increasingly Ugly, But Will It Matter?

Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Republican presidential candidate Barack Obama (R) have both drawn criticism for negative comments during the 2012 presidential campaign, which seems to be growing increasingly nasty. (Credit: CBS)

Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Republican presidential candidate Barack Obama (R) have both drawn criticism for negative comments during the 2012 presidential campaign, which seems to be growing increasingly nasty. (Credit: CBS)

Dana Kozlov Dana Kozlov
Dana Kozlov is a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago. She...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Racial undertones, nasty accusations – in just the past few days, the 2012 presidential campaign has taken what appears to be a caustic turn.

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov takes a look at what was said and what it means.

During a campaign stop in Virginia, Vice President Joe Biden told a crowd including hundreds of black voters that Republican Mitt Romney wanted to “unchain Wall Street. They’re gonna put y’all back in chains.”

In response, Romney accused the Obama campaign of being “angry and desperate,” and told the president to “take your campaign of division, and anger, and hate back to Chicago.”

Political analyst Stephen Caliendo said the comments from both sides helped ramp up the campaign’s negative tone.

Asked why either side would resort to nasty remarks at all, Caliendo said, “it works.”

That is why Caliendo believes the rhetoric will only heat up as the campaign clock ticks on, even though Biden later clarified his remarks, saying he meant to say “unshackled,” a term Republicans have used in the past to describe their belief that limited government will “unshackle” the economy.

Caliendo said any damage from Biden’s original statement – and other negative comments from both sides during the campaign – is already done.

However, voters from either side might not be listening anymore.

“It seems logical that a negative campaign would affect voter turnout, but the political science research is really unsettled on this,” Caliendo said.

Chicago area voters were decidedly mixed in their reaction to negative campaigning.

Indiana voter Vera Milevsnic said she’s not bothered by the attacks from the two sides.

“I’m kind of of a mind where I pay attention to what they’ve done, and not the mudslinging,” she said.

“I’ve been paying less attention as it’s kind of been dragging on,” Doug Pattay said. “I haven’t felt like any more information has come out.”

“I don’t think I’ve voted for a while. So, I feel that, um … I don’t know, I just, I’m not interested anymore,” Luis Trochte said.

Caliendo said so-called Super PACs might also fuel the negative talk. That’s because the heavily-funded, partisan groups can now spend as much money as they want on political ads to put out any message they want – without recourse – as long as they do not coordinate their planning with any candidate.