Negative

Michael Van Der Gallen has noticed the explosion of negative ads in America these days.

The reason is actually fairly simple. Negative ads make voters disgusted with politics in general. They raise the target’s negative ratings, but usually at the expense of raising the ad buyer’s negatives as well. Endangered incumbents love negative ads specifically because high voter enthusiasm and high turnout usually favor the challenger, so the more people you keep at home on election day the better your chances at keeping your seat.

The numbers add up just like you would expect them to. The GOP, essentially the incumbent party across the board, faces a tidal wave realignment election that could rival 1994 if they do not find some way to stem the bleeding. Neither stupid nor squeamish about bare-knuckle politics, the GOP did exactly what the numbers say they should do.

Does it work? Read Michael’s post. Moderate voter observes politicians throwing mud, throws up his hands and (if he was a US citizen) probably stays home. This isn’t rocket science.

14 replies
  1. 1
    Punchy says:

    In any other year, maybe. But not this one. People are PISSED. This year, negative ads should fuel more anger, not disillusionment. Now, when I see a negative R ad, I don’t become saddened and despondent, I become furious.

    This will be a special election, in that I don’t think negative ads will work. People are already WAY polarized, and if anything, this will fire up the Dems to come out and vote. Enought lies ALREADY have been put forth in the last 6 years, and these ads are only reminding the progressives and indies of this truth.

  2. 2
    Andrew says:

    MvdG is one of the most naive political bloggers I have ever read. And then stopped reading. I don’t know why TMV keeps him around.

    Here’s the standard MvdG post template:
    I’m confused about [topic]. Why do Americans do [thing related to topic]? I am scared of [Muslims (pick one)]. American conservatives are surely correct. Why does the welfare state suck so much? How do I get more welfare from the government?

  3. 3
    Larry says:

    Why does the welfare state suck so much? How do I get more welfare from the government?

    Move to Newt Gingrich’s former district.

  4. 4
    Blue Neponset says:

    I have to agree with Andrew about MvdG, he really doesn’t understand American politics too well, or any brand of politics actually. Any political blogger who is surprised by the negative tone in political ads in the year of our Lord, 2006, is not a very astute political blogger, IMO. I can’t wait for Micheal’s next post about how he noticed that politicians sometimes lie in order to get elected.

  5. 5
    Mr Furious says:

    The thing making me throw MY hands up in the air and want to stay home is this damn torture legislation. The Dems won’t stop it, they’ll avoid it, the Republicans are granting Bush the power of a king, nobody gives a shit….

    ugh.

  6. 6
    ThymeZone says:

    David Frost: Why did you accuse your opponent of being a communist, in your first campaign for your seat in the House of Representatives?

    Nixon: Well, you have to win.

    —-//

    As a campaigner, Nixon mastered early what historian Garry Wills called “The Denigrative Method” and what later analysts called “negative campaigning.” Simply put, he attacked his opponents — sometimes unscrupulously, always effectively. His first campaign set the pattern.

    His opponent was Jerry Voorhis, a New Dealer elected five times by voters of California’s 12th congressional district. Voorhis was an anticommunist and refused to accept the endorsement of any political action committee unless the PAC renounced any and all communist influence. That stance deprived him of backing from the Congress of Industrial Organizations’ PAC — CIO PAC — a communist-infiltrated labor group. When a newspaper falsely accused Voorhis of having the CIO PAC’s endorsement, the congressman took out an ad proclaiming that the CIO PAC had refused to endorse him on account of his opposition to communists in the labor movement. “I can not accept the support of anyone who does not oppose them as I do,” Voorhis said.

    Nixon’s campaign manager, however, claimed to have proof that Voorhis had the PAC’s endorsement. During a debate with Nixon, Voorhis asked to see the proof. Nixon dramatically stepped forward with a bulletin of the local branch of the National Citizens Political Action Committee that included Voorhis among its recommendations. Voorhis pointed out that Nixon’s evidence was about the NCPAC, not the CIO PAC, but the damage was done. Nixon had successfully linked Voorhis in the minds of voters to “the PAC,” a tactic that helped him defeat Voorhis in November.

    The House GOP rewarded Nixon with a seat on the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he rose to national stardom during the investigation of Alger Hiss. Through the presentation of evidence before HUAC and at two trials, Hiss, a prominent employee in the U.S. State Department, was revealed to have passed information to the Soviets. Proof of this espionage has only grown more overwhelming in recent years with the declassification of the “Venona” intercepts, decrypted Soviet cables on communist activities in America. Nixon won reelection in 1948 with the endorsement of both parties.

    In 1950, his reputation buoyed by the Hiss case, Nixon ran for the Senate against Helen Gahagan Douglas in a campaign that echoed his race with Voorhis. This time, the Nixon campaign manual included a “pink sheet” comparing his opponent’s voting record to that of Communist Party-liner Vito Marcantonio — what Nixon referred to as the “Douglas-Marcantonio axis.” Nixon won a seat in the Senate and an indelible sobriquet — “Tricky Dick.”

    Negative campaigning is not exactly news. It has been mainstream American politics for a very long time.

  7. 7
    Davebo says:

    You’re absolutely right about MvdG.

    One annoying Dutch filmmaker is murdered and the guy is convinced Sharia law is coming to Amsterdam.

    I wonder what they’ll do with all those tiny windowed “offices” in the red light district?

  8. 8
    Zifnab says:

    Negative campaigning is not exactly news. It has been mainstream American politics for a very long time.

    I was going to say…
    Was I the only one awake during ’02 and ’04 where they had Senators morphing into Osama bin Laden and Presidental Candidates put up windsurfing in their skivies to highlight flip-flopping?

    Maybe Swift-Boat Veterans for Truthiness was all just a collective hallucination, but I could have sworn…

  9. 9
    Zifnab says:

    The thing making me throw MY hands up in the air and want to stay home is this damn torture legislation. The Dems won’t stop it, they’ll avoid it, the Republicans are granting Bush the power of a king, nobody gives a shit….

    ugh.

    Every time the Democrats take up a visible, vocal, united front against some clusterfuck Republican piece of lame-ass legislation, a cheer goes up from sea to shining sea. I don’t know what the hell their problem is sometimes. The only way they GET camera time is through opposition politics. Otherwise, the national media forgets we even have a two-party system. I’m beginning to think these older Dems are physically afraid of getting elected.

  10. 10
    ThymeZone says:

    Was I the only one awake during ‘02 and ‘04

    Heck no. I thought that Osama Bin Laden ran a very effective campaign for Bush in 04. In fact, Bin Laden was showing more attention to Bush than Bush was showing to Bin Laden.

    Now that’s respect.

  11. 11
    Pb says:

    Actually, the Democrats *are* opposing the torture legislation, in Congress, as we speak. They might not ultimately be successful, but they are doing it, whether the media reports it or not.

  12. 12
    Rudi says:

    Davebo Says:

    You’re absolutely right about MvdG.

    He is the web “godson” of the Wingnut Princess at http://www.allthingsbeautiful.com/. Call him out about his blind faith of groups like MEMRI and LGF and the lad gets defensive.

  13. 13

    I don’t think the negative ads are going to work this way for the Repubicans this time around.

    You’re right, that negative stuff turns off people from politics. That the general goal of these negative campaigns is to disgust people and make them throw their hand sup in the air and stay away from the polling both.

    But, there’s a realization amongst the public that it is the Republicans who are solely responsible for the negativity in politics.

    There was a poll(I think Gallup) who asked whether GW Bush was a uniter or a divider, and something like 60% said he was responsible for dividing the country. Every time Cheney gets on and claims that people unhappy with the war in Iraq love terrorists, he loses another vote.

  14. 14
    Mac Buckets says:

    Was I the only one awake during ‘02 and ‘04 where they had Senators morphing into Osama bin Laden

    No, you were asleep if you saw that ad, because it only existed in Democrat dreams. And they’re still floating that old lie? I’d say “unbelieveable,” but these are Donks we’re talking about.

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