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Another race that has devolved into classic campaign attacks is in Illinois.

In one ad, from Republican Mark Steven Kirk, a narrator asks, “What do you call someone who wants the government to spend more and raise your taxes to pay for it? Sen. Alexi Giannoulias? You must be kidding. Mark Kirk will spend less, tax less and borrow less.”

Democrats’ Senate campaign committee, meanwhile, has run ads accusing Mr. Kirk of opposing unemployment benefits and the minimum wage, while supporting congressional pay raises.

Dick W. Thompson, a former Chicago alderman who is now a professor at the University of Illinois Chicago, said neither of the two men — Mr. Giannoulias, the Democratic state treasurer, nor Mr. Kirk, the five-term Republican congressman — had strayed from the normal boilerplate issues and political potshots that have come to define both parties, and that has left voters disillusioned with either party’s ability to deliver on their promises.

“Anybody who could come in and exactly convince voters they could do something about jobs, or housing, I think would get a flood of support. Candidates say those kind of things, but the voters sort of aren’t buying it.”

He added, “There’s a lack of believability. People don’t really want to see the details as much as they want to be able to believe that someone is telling them the truth that, ‘We will actually do A, B and C,’ within some meaningful time frame, to the voter.”