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Negative campaigns will get worse as long as they keep working

© Lee Judge

If we keep voting for people whose only policy proposal is to attack their opponents, then we have nobody to blame but ourselves.



  1. Johnny wrote:

    So true. This is all the Republican Tea Party had to offer: Attacks on the Democrats and President Obama. They offered no real solutions… they don’t have any real solutions.

    Sunday, November 14, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Permalink
  2. patriotsgt wrote:

    Whoa hold on a minute Johnny. This is clearly not a partisan issue it is played by both sides equally. In my state the Incumbant Dem Gov started his attack ads the day after his repub opponent anounced he was running. I voted for the gov, but I was very displeased with his ad campaign. There are many examples of smear/false ads on both sides of the isle.

    Sunday, November 14, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Permalink
  3. Chris wrote:

    True. And Patriot is of course right that both sides do it. But we should differentiate between “attack” ads – those which grossly distort the opponent’s record and stoke irrational fear – and those which merely draw fair, factual distinctions.

    I’m not implying that anyone here does, but too often the media lump them all together as though they’re equally bad. But I wouldn’t mind more ads which point out true differences between candidates. Those are more informative than “positive” ads which merely puff up a candidate as a church-going family man.

    I’m sure this could descend into a discussion about who gets to decide what “truth” is, but that would be a red herring, some ads are just blatantly false by any standard except one based on faith.

    Sunday, November 14, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Permalink
  4. Sammy wrote:

    In my market, if I had voted solely for those who didn’t run negative advertising, demonizing his/her opponent, I would have had to leave 90% of my ballot blank. It was disgusting, and I ended up losing respect for those I actually voted for.

    Sunday, November 14, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Permalink
  5. Chelsey wrote:

    patriotsgt: I felt like what Johnny was trying to say wasn’t that ONLY Republican Tea Partiers ran slam campaigns, but that it’s the only kind of campaign they ran. I’m not saying I agree, just that I don’t think he said what you think he said.

    Sammy: I did the same thing. I don’t care what politicians think of other politicians. I want to know what they’re going to DO. I don’t understand how it got to the point where accusing your opponent of being the anti-Christ wins you the vote. It’s sad that people are stupid enough to buy into that.

    Monday, November 15, 2010 at 9:38 am | Permalink
  6. Bert wrote:

    It is hard to vote against those who post negative ads if everyone but a few minor candidates with no real chance do it.

    Monday, November 15, 2010 at 11:51 am | Permalink
  7. patriotsgt wrote:

    Chelsey – I could go along with that. I just wanted it to be clarified that both parties practice negative campaigning and there are Tea Party candidates, like a few Dem and Repub cadidates that did not resort to brainless attack ads.
    Bert – you are absolutely correct. I guess if no one voted then maybe they’d get the message, or everyone did a write in for say George Washington or Abe Lincoln instead.

    Monday, November 15, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Permalink
  8. Iron Knee wrote:

    There is no doubt that both parties run negative ads. However, I’ve actually seen people attack the Dems for being spineless if they *don’t* run negative ads. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t!

    So maybe a better criterion would not just be whether you run negative ads, but (as others have commented) whether you only run negative ads. In addition, I think there is a big difference between negative ads that are relatively truthful (like pointing out the voting record of your opponent), and outright lies (like accusing your opponent of supporting death panels).

    I am given hope by the fact that, done well, positive ads can be effective. Like this one:

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Permalink