Negative campaign ads never sit well with viewers but it does bring some interesting issues to light. Although the public generally despises this tactic it is increasingly popular with candidates and thought to be highly effective.

This election the mudslinging started when Hillary Clinton released a commercial knocking Barrack Obama refused to debate her in Wisconsin. Obama has for the most part has taken the high road against Hillary Clinton. Clinton has used various negative tactics from associating Barrack with Muslim groups, portraying him as a radical, and exposing dealing with NAFTA after he previously criticized the trade agreement in a debate.

The reports concerning NAFTA may have hurt Barrack in Tuesday’s caucuses and primary elections. The results lead Clinton to believe the two maybe running on a joint ticket, with her as the top runner.

A survey from the Project on Campaign Conduct showed that viewers are weary of negative campaigns and tend to distrust politicians (big surprise there).

  • 59% believe that all or most candidates deliberately twist the truth.
  • 39% believe that all or most candidates deliberately lie to voters.
  • 43% believe that most or all candidates deliberately make unfair attacks on their opponents. Another 45% believe that some candidates do.
  • 67% say they can trust the government in Washington only some of the time or never.ObamaClinton
  • 87% are concerned about the level of personal attacks in today’s political campaigns.

Voters hate the prospect of these ads but unfortunately they have been proven time and again to be highly effective. UCLA professor of Psychiatry, Dr. Marco Iacoboni completed brain imaging research from the 2004 presidential campaign. The results showed that viewers lost empathy for the candidate they supported once the person was attacked.

I can’t have an article on political ads and not at least link to the most controversial political ad, this one dates back to the Johnson vs. Goldwater from 1964. I think this one relates heavily to the Clinton ad posted above. -Same strategy just 44 years later.

Advertisements