PUBLIC OPINION > Negative Political Ads Are Effective
SodaHead News 2012/05/08 23:00:00
According to the Wesleyan Media Project, negativity in campaign ads has increased 750% this election cycle. In 2008, they estimated 9.1% of political ads were negative. This year, the estimate is closer to 70%. It's no fun for candidates or for voters, but it seems to work. Presumably, they wouldn't be running them if it didn't. But we wanted to know if the public thinks they're effective.
Unfortunately, the answer is an affirmative. Negative ads aren't pleasant, but they work. Interestingly enough, most people claimed they weren't personally influenced by the negativity, but suspected they were effective on the "foolish," the "uninformed," and, of course, the other party. However, one commenter wrote, "We all say we don't like them and shouldn't. I'd like to think that I am immune to them but probably not if I'm honest with myself." It's a little bit paradoxical, but if they truly are effective, that's probably true for a lot of people.
Believe it or not, liberals and conservatives voted exactly the same. Moderates actually showed about 20% less faith in negative ad campaigns than either party. There was also a level of blame being traded between liberal and conservative voters in the discussion: "Negative ads work exclusively for the left." "Got it backwards, dear." The discussion was pretty, um, negative.
Men Are More Convinced
On the gender front, men were more likely to believe negative campaign ads are effective. It could be that competitive spirit -- men agreeing that you sometimes have to get your hands dirty to win the race. But women can be pretty brutal, too, which is probably why the difference was so small (10%). There are certainly more male candidates, but we've seen no shortage of negative ads from female candidates on either side.
One of the only groups that didn't buy into negative ads as an effective political medium was the unemployed, and we suspect it has something to do with their definition of "effective." Effective at what? At perpetuating political passions, or landing good policy? Because the ads are negative now, and they're unemployed. Doesn't sound very effective from that perspective.
If you'd like to vote on this question, dig deeper into the demographics, or engage in existing discussion about the topic, visit our poll about negative campaign ads. We'd love to hear from you!
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