Who Do Negative Campaign Ads Hurt Most?

Attack AdI've talked to many moms who say that attack ads disgust them, but the fact is, they work. Most pundits agree that Newt Gingrich lost his lead in Iowa because of attack ads launched against him by Romney backers, along with the fact that Gingrich refused to retaliate with attack ads of his own.

Another concern is over the Supreme Court's recent campaign finance ruling, which makes it possible for corporations to finance these ads. The thought of wealthy corporate interests having a major impact in the outcome of the presidential election is disturbing to many Americans.

You're only going to be seeing more of these ads as we get closer to Election Day, so we thought now is as good a time as any to ask this question to our political bloggers:

Who gets hurt most by negative campaign ads?

And now, a quick primer on negative campaign ads for those of you who haven't kept up with the issue.

The Christian Science Monitor does a great job of explaining the Supreme Court's campaign finance ruling in this article. Check it out and you'll be able to discuss the issue like a pro.

Next, I highly recommend that you read this article from the New York Times, which tells you how the ruling is affecting Mitt Romney's campaign, as an example. Here's a quote from the article, detailing how the attack ads that brought down Newt Gingrich were funded:

The ads, which continue to blanket Iowa days before the caucuses here, were created and paid for by people with deep knowledge of the Romney campaign’s strategic thinking, close relationships with Mr. Romney’s most generous donors, and even research on what television viewers like and dislike most about Mr. Romney himself.

Yet neither Mr. Romney nor his staff has had to lift a finger or spend a dollar to make it happen. In a stark illustration of how last year’s landmark Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance has created powerful new channels for outside money to influence elections, the negative onslaught is the work of a group called Restore Our Future.

Here's one of Restore Our Future's ads:

And here's an ad from Ron Paul, going after candidate Rick Santorum:


I addressed the issue in a recent column for the Huffington Post. This is what I had to say on the matter:

There's nothing that turns a mother off faster than an attack ad. We teach our own children to take the high road and never badmouth the competition, and we wish politicians would do the same. "'Proving' your opponent is inept doesn't make you qualified!" summarized mother-of-five Shannon Eidson on my Facebook page recently. Exactly.

Here's what our political bloggers have to say on the subject:

When Super PACS Attack: Fight Like a Girl or Die, Candidates

There's Nothing Super About Super PACS

Let's Focus on Political Issues Not Personal Issues

Super Pac Wars: The Victor Could End Up In the White House

Introducing This Year's Media Bad Guy: The Super PAC

Image via YouTube



2012 election


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Rhond... RhondaVeggie

I actually don't mind them, I think they're a great way to learn about candidates. If they are completely lame then I know the person they are aimed at must be a decent candidate. We had some in my area during the last election for representatives that were just plain sad. I forget what they even said but it reminded me of Gulliver's Travels; don't vote for her because she eats her eggs upside down! If the worst thing that the opposition can come up with is that a candidate eats their eggs the 'wrong' way up or favors expensive shoes or some other silly little quibble then clearly that candidate isn't going far wrong.

hotic... hoticedcoffee

I can't stand the negative ads, and would love to see some serious restrictions put in place when it comes to campaign financing.  I'm not someone who supports an 'even playing field' as far as rich vs. poor, but I believe the presidency shouldn't be determined by who has more money to spend on campaigning. 

What we are seeing this year is the worst case scenario.  The likely challenger, Romney, has a lot of monetary support and some history that will fuel negative attacks. Obama has an absolutely absurd amount of campaign money and an equally absurd short list of accomplishments.  The attacks to and from both sides are probably going to be downright disgusting.

Our government needs an overhaul, and I don't see how we'll get it when we're basically allowing elections to be bought.

starl... starlight1968

I remember once when I was younger our Governors race was pretty "close" and the one candidate refused to mud-sling in person, on tv etc.  Needless to say SHE won and was a great Gov.  We could really use someone like her again here and as president.  RIP Ms. Richards!

nonmember avatar Gertie

Yuck. Of course the ads are terrible. I am not interested. I completely ignore them, and in fact I record any TV shows I want to watch so I can fast forward right through them.

kschlag kschlag

I think the thoughts of my 12 year old son are pretty much on the money - "Why don't they concentrate on telling us how they will solve our problems?  That's what I want to know!"

Of course, the ad have given me some great teachable moments on critical viewing, listening and thinking! 

What DS and I have ended up thinking time after time is - I can't believe there are people out there who believe this stuff (like the ad accusing Huntsman of becoming Chinese because he served as ambassador and adopted Chinese children) and isn't it sad!

4kidz916 4kidz916

I think these ads hurt the American people most.  A lot of people base their voting on these ads alone (which of course take things out of context and twist others).  People need to do real research on the real issues before making a decision on who to support. 

Julie Johnson

There are many advertising banners and signs that conveys bad message to the people. That's why its becoming a negative ad. You can see a lot of these on the streets.

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