An interesting perspective on negative ads

I found this interesting perspective on negative ads in political campaigning at Bloomberg. It certainly shows why they are effective. The main reason is because they contain the truth rather than political spin.

[quote]There's a saying among political consultants popularized by the Republican ad man Mike Murphy: The difference between a positive ad and a negative ad is that the negative ad has a fact in it.

This bit of folk wisdom has recently found academic support. In an original and thoroughly refreshing book published early this year, “In Defense of Negativity,'' the Vanderbilt University political scientist John G. Geer undertook a definitive survey of negative advertising.

The poor man viewed almost every presidential-campaign television commercial aired since 1964, positive and negative alike, and arrived at an unexpected conclusion: The negative ads were better.

Being an academic, Geer had to define “better'' with some precision. He had four criteria to distinguish good ads from bad. The best ads discuss pertinent political issues, have a relatively high degree of specificity, rely on documentation to make their point and raise questions that the public itself considers important.[/quote]

He goes on to say;

[quote]The demands of attack ads are different from positive ads, Geer says. The threshold is higher. You need documentation and support. If a candidate just attacks, without documentation to back it up, it rebounds against the attacker and he looks like a fool.

Negative ads, to be effective, also have to be specific.

If your opponent says, "I want to grow the economy. I want the best education for our children",you can't just say, "No, he wants to shrink the economy. He wants a terrible education for our kids", Geer says.

"You have to get into policy — you have to say why his policies will hurt education or the economy. That forces negative ads to be more substantive."[/quote]

And that is precisely why National's ads last election were successful and why their billboard of yesterday is doubly successful.


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