“Contrary to what many believe, the central effect of such negative advertising isn’t to move voters from supporting another candidate to backing yours, as Mitt Romney and his allies have discovered during this primary season. The main effect is not even to move undecided voters into your column. No, the real effect of negative advertising is to energize and solidify support among your ideological base while turning everyone else off to the other candidate, the campaign and the entire electoral process. Negative advertising isn’t about changing minds; it’s about altering the composition of the voter pool on Election Day by turning moderate voters into non-voters.”—The Washington Post’s Stephen Pearlstein • Offering a counterpoint to Ezra Klein’s point from the other night; Pearlstein suggests politicians want people to turn off from the political process, because it helps them stabilize the electoral pool come election time. Which is how we get stuff like Obama eating dog food on an Etch A Sketch with Mitt Romney’s face drawn on it, or something like that.
“For as long as I’ve been in politics, 14 years, journalists call me and ask if this is the most negative election ad atmosphere I've ever seen. And every year I say, ‘Don’t be ridiculous.’ But this year it's true.”—That’s Kenneth Goldstein, president of Kantar Media CMAG, which tracks content and targeting of political advertising, commenting on this year’s GOP primaries. As John Avlon notes, “A staggering 92 percent of the political ads run in Florida over the last week of the campaign have been negative.” (For the record, Romney is outspending Gingrich 5 to 1.)
How will Super PACs affect democracy?
There will certainly be more political speech than ever. As November 2012 approaches, no one will be able to turn on a TV without seeing a political ad featuring ominous music, unflattering photos of candidates, and alarming rhetoric. Super PAC ads tend to be the most negative of all, because they aren’t directly sponsored by candidates, so there is plausible deniability when the ads cross the line into deception and character assassination. That kind of ad may sometimes backfire. But in the long run, allowing deep-pocket contributors to write checks for unlimited amounts — sometimes anonymously — will inevitably add to the growing partisan bitterness in politics, and give well-funded vested interests even greater influence. Craig Holman of Public Citizen, a good-government advocacy group, said one Capitol Hill staffer explained the influence of Super PACs to him this way: “How do I say no to a corporate lobbyist with deep pockets, knowing that the corporate client can spend unlimited money to unseat my boss?”
More information on Super PACs:
Is 2012 The Nastiest Campaign Ever?
So says the man who didn’t exactly run a clean campaign himself in 2008. McCain doesn’t really offer anything up bolster that claim, and if one compares this campaign to previous ones, I think you’d have to say McCain is exaggerating at the least, although more likely he’s just full of shit.
McCain calls this the nastiest campaign ever because he needs to try to tap into some feeling against negative campaigning (a misplaced feeling in my opinion, but that’s another topic for another time), since he needs to drum up antipathy towards super PACs by claiming they’re the cause of the nastiness by running negative ads and driving up the candidates negatives.
However, the candidates unfavourables have remained fairly consistent throughout this race according to Gallup’s tracking of the race, and indeed, Santorum’s positive intensity score has increased. But there are other polls looking at favourable and unfavourable numbers, such as the NBC/Wall Street poll [pdf]. Asked to describe their feelings about Romney, the number describing their feelings as “very negative” has been climbing since June 2011 (suggesting something other than super PAC money at work here). Among Republican primary voters, his numbers have been more consistent.
Sen. McCain may be disposed to oppose super PACs, but there is a better way to make this argument than pretending 2012 is a nasty campaign year and laying the blame at negative ads produced by super PACs. Furthermore, a negative ad is not necessarily a “nasty” ad.
The Bain Backfire
Without A Record To Run On, Obama Has Resorted To Negative Ads Attacking Mitt Romney
ABC News’ Jonathan Karl Fact Checks Obama On Negative Ads: “Over The Past Month, Obama’s Own Campaign Has Run Its Ads More Than 68,000 Times, Nearly 80% Of Them Attacking Mitt Romney.” “KARL: ‘Turn on the T.V. in one of these states, and you’d think the election was next week. A bombardment of political ads, the vast majority brutally negative.’ OBAMA: ‘Most of the ads are negative and at a certain point, people get discouraged and start feeling like nobody in Washington is listening.’ KARL: “That’s right. Over the past month, Obama’s own campaign has run its ads more than 68,000 times, nearly 80% of them attacking Mitt Romney. Negative and loose with the facts. Take this Obama ad. OBAMA AD: ‘Romney’s never stood up to China. All he’s ever done is send them our jobs.’KARL: ‘But that’s not true. Romney’s former company Bain Capital may have invested in companies with operations in China, but there is no evidence that they shipped any U.S. jobs there under Romney’s leadership.’”(ABC’s “ABC World News,” 7/9/12)
76 Percent Of The 68,443 Obama Ads That Have Aired Over The Last 30 Days Have Been Negative. “Off the 68,443 ads that Obama has run on TV (local broadcast, national network & national cable) in the 30-day period ended July 2, 52,016 had an ‘anti-Romney message’ - 76 percent of the total, according to New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG, which monitors campaign advertising.” (Mark Silva, “$10 M Checks, Obama Complains - Yet Look Who’s Gone Negative,” Bloomberg, 7/6/12)
Recent Polls Reveal The Ineffectiveness Of Obama’s Negative Ads
“Obama’s Relentless Assault On Mitt Romney’s Business Record Are Also Showing No Real Signs Of Significantly Shaping The Race.” “Obama’s relentless assault on Mitt Romney’s business record are also showing no real signs of significantly shaping the race. Sixty percent of voters say that Bain makes no difference, while 23 percent say it makes them less likely to vote for him. Seventy-three percent of voters say that Romney’s wealth makes no difference.” (Byron Tau, “Poll: Voters Blame Obama For The Economy,” Politico’s ” 44,” 7/18/12)
Six In Ten Voters Say Romney’s Bain Experience Will Not Affect Their Vote. “Six in 10 voters surveyed said Mr. Romney’s experience at Bain would not affect their vote, though other polls in swing states have indicated that the ads are influencing perceptions about his business experience.” (Jim Rutenberg and Marjorie Connelly, “Economic Fears Hurting Obama, Poll Indicates,” The New York Times , 7/18/12)
“The Economic News Is Overwhelming Everything Else, Including The Attacks On Mitt Romney’s Tenure At Bain Capital.” “The takeaway from this poll is similar to the one drawn from the CBS/New York Times data: the economic news is overwhelming everything else, including the attacks on Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital and his refusal to release his tax returns.” (Sam Stein, “Mitt Romney Ties It Up In Virginia: Poll,” The Huffington Post, 7/19/12)
“Most Voters Say Romney’s Personal Wealth - Estimated By The Candidate To Be At Least $190 Million - And His Experience As The Head Of The Private Equity Firm Bain Capital Will Not Impact Their Vote.” “Most voters say Romney’s personal wealth - estimated by the candidate to be at least $190 million - and his experience as the head of the private equity firm Bain Capital will not impact their vote. Seventy-three percent say Romney’s wealth will make no difference to their vote, while 60 percent say his Bain experience will not impact their vote.” (Brian Montopoli, “Most Say Romney Policies Favor The Rich,” CBS News, 7/18/12)
While Romney Is “Under Fire For His Record At Bain… Polling For Obama Has Only Worsened.” “In the face of unending Democratic attacks, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign’s message is this: this is as bad as it gets. Under fire for his record at Bain and his failure to release more than two years of tax returns, and as his own message has skipped ineffectually from one attack on Obama to the next, polling for Obama has only worsened.” (Zeke Miller, “Romney Campaign: It Gets Better,” BuzzFeed, 7/19/12)
I am getting sick of hearing/seeing this all over the media’s headlines.
Let’s get one thing straight, “negative ads” are not “negative” when all they do is point out your past voting record. ”Negative ads” are “negative” when they dig into an opponent’s family life, cause fear mongering, or unfairly criticize an opponent.
Of candidates and negative campaigning
By Rodrigue Tremblay
In current American politics, money and wars of aggression abroad seem to rule the day. When a candidate’s fortune turns sour, the natural reflex is to spend millions in negative ads to destroy adversaries and/or to issue hawkish policy statements with the promise to start new wars abroad and even to rekindle old ones. The motto seems to be that “If you destroy me with your negative ads; I will destroy you with mine.” This is truly amazing.
The Politics of Negative Advertising
Or Why Negative Ads Bother Me Less Than Most
Most people hate “negative” political ads. I’m not a huge fan, and I think it would be a challenge for anyone to find someone who loves them. I remember the “Swift Boat” ads in the 2004 campaign and whenever I remember them all I can think of is dirty politics.
But I don’t think all attack ads are dirty politics.