We?re coming off another primary election season where, at least for national offices, we?ve seen enough negative political ads to make us puke. Everyone says they?re tired of negative political ads, but the flow doesn?t stop. One would assume that evidence proves campaign ads that criticize the opponent are effective. Yet the jury is out on whether ?going negative? pays off.
A comprehensive literature analysis published in 2007 reported that negative ads tended to be more memorable than positive ones, but that they did not affect voter choice. Though noteworthy, this study didn?t settle the debate. At best, research on the effectiveness of negative political ads is inconclusive. But this much is clear: Campaign consultants clearly believe in their power, which explains why negative ads are so often used.
So we?ll continue to dream of a day when a U.S. senator who has worked for Kansas for 47 years will have more to tout than the Facebook misjudgments of his minor league opponent.