Political Campaigns Lean Fowards Negative Side
COLUMBIA - A Missouri-based political scientist says the last mid-term election campaigns were marked by the most negative advertisements he has seen in some time. Marvin Overby is a political science professor at the University of Missouri and he says he knows why this last campaign was dominated by a "negative" tone.
"We get the kind of government we deserve and this is what we respond to and that is why the candidates are giving it to us," Overby said.
When asked if this is right kind of government for the American people, Overby shrugged.
"I don't know," he said.
From mid-summer until early November, politicians on both sides of the aisle ran radio and television ads bashing their opponents positions and personal history. An ads from the race for Senator Kit Bond's seat between Robin Carnahan and Roy Blunt portrayed this particularly harsh attack ads. An ad from the Carnahan campaign showed newspapers blowing through a farm as a narrator said "Blowing through Missouri: Roy Blunt's negative ads about wind farms."
On the other side, a Blunt ad showed a black and white picture of Carnahan as ominous music played in the background.
"Missouri and America are headed in the wrong direction. Robin Carnahan supports a failing agenda," the ad's voice over said, referencing a proposed connection between Carnahan and President Barack Obama's political ideologies.
After the election results were reported, Carnahan spoke briefly with KOMU about these ads. She even admitted that these type of negative ads don't aid American voters.
"In the end it's not just happening in Missouri, it's happening all around the country and we need to decide as a nation whether that's the best way to elect our government," she said.
Roy Blunt did not make himself available for comment at his campaign watch party. But Carnahan and Blunt were not the only two politicians using the attack ads. Missouri candidates for positions throughout state and federal governments ran similar ads.
Overby says their is simple reason behind this: negative ads work.
"A lot of campaigning is not about, especially advertising, driving up your own positive evaluations with the public, but driving up your opponents negative," Overby said. He even admitted that many times this type of campaigning is much more substantive than positive--or, as Overby calls them, "apple pie"--ads.
He also said that if the American economy does not turnaround soon, more of the same type of ads could pop up during the next round of elections.
"The economy is in such doldrums and that sours people's moods and that makes for a public that is anxious and a bit angry," he said.