Midterms Gone Nasty: Does political discourse shape how Pennsylvanians communicate?

Nasty Midterms: does political discourse shape how Americans communicate?

SCRANTON (WOLF) -- "Words matter, of course they do. Words and actions both matter," said Denny Wolff.

"I do think words matter, I think actions matter more... but I think words lead to actions," said Dan Meuser.

Across our screens is negativity.

We see one candidate versus another, republicans against democrats.

"Right now we're in a heightened stage of political polarization. We're coming up on elections within a few days," said Michael Allison, Political Science Professor at the University of Scranton.

He says people look to their elected officials to set the tone for what's acceptable or not.

"To see it a little bit where they've perhaps gone much more extreme than we've seen in the recent past in the united states, there's no doubt that a lot of that has trickled down or moved its way into how citizens interact with each other," said Allison.

The race to the midterms has been heated - across all levels.

Some have had sharp words.

Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Scott Wagner said in a Facebook video: "You better put a catcher's mask on your face because I'm going to stop all over your face with golf spikes because I'm going to win this for the state of Pennsylvania and we're throwing you out of office." referring to Governor Tom Wolf.

Candidate for the 9th Congressional District, Republican Dan Meuser, refused to shake his opponent's hand at a debate.

"He referred to me as 'Manure Meuser'. When I saw him, he came up to extended his hand, and I just politely said 'go to hell'. Yes, I did," Meuser said.

Meuser claims that comment was in response to his opponent, Democrat Denny Wolff, slandering his family name and business.

"The example should start with the truth, and if you want to get into the gutter and try to get personal with your opponent, that's where it gets nasty," Meuser said.

Wolff, a dairy farmer, says people he talks to in the 9th are very concerned about the campaign process.

"The last thing I wanted to do was get into an attack back and forth, unfortunately that's the way it works. I just can't continue to run positive ad about myself when so many falsehoods have been put out there that need to be addressed," Wolff said in a FaceTime with FOX56 Thursday.

Congressman Matt Cartwright, running for reelection against Republican John Chrin in the 8th Congressional District, says some of the ads out go way over the top.

"I think you don't just get elected to enact legislation or oppose legislation, but you also have to lead by example," said Cartwright.

Professor Allison says the discourse from this election could shape a dangerous precedent for future elections, locally and nationally.

"If we are entering into a situation where winning is more important than serving the American public, or winning by threats, you can see how the entire system breaks down," Allison said.

In a statement to FOX56 News John Chrin's campaign said: "We can never forget that though we might be Republicans, Democrats, or Independents, at the end of the day, we are most importantly, all Americans."

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