So, I have a pet peeve about talking heads dissing “negative” ads (if you’re not going to tell voters about your opponent’s bad acts, why even bother running a race). The talking heads struck again while discussing Wendy Davis’ latest ad in Texas’ gubernatorial race. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Dorian Warren said, “What we know about negative ads is that they almost always depress turnout” (Source). Actually, Dorian, we don’t know that; it’s just that you and others keep repeating this bs.
It’s like a bad recurring rash, i.e., the complaint about “negative” ads, or as I like to call them: informative.
The latest comes from Gromer Jeffers at the Dallas Morning News regarding the recent Republican primary in Senate District 16:
Huffines, part of the family that owns area car dealerships, has considerable campaign resources and has used them to drag Carona through the mud.
What’s dragging the incumbent through the mud you might ask?
He’s criticized the senator for political issues and ethical questions, saying the incumbent has used his perch in the Legislature to shepherd laws that helped his property management business.
So, bringing up information which has already been verified and discussed in the media - see here - is dragging him through the mud. Yes, the Godfather mail piece was probably pretty cheeky, but humor and cheekiness don’t undermine the information.
If the information wasn’t factual, then perhaps there would be grounds for complaint; however, the facts of the ads were never disputed.
Then there is the well worn canard that negative advertising drives down turnout:
For Huffines, the idea is to not only aim at Carona’s support base, but to use the attacks to suppress the vote.
The claim that negative ads reduce turn out is particularly egregious in this instance, since the incumbent hasn’t had a primary opponent since he was elected in 1996. In 2012, twenty-nine thousand people voted in the SD16 primary. This year 49,637 individuals voted. This was more than voted in the CD 32 primary where Pete Sessions was challenged by TEA Party activist Katrina Pierson (Source).
Past posts on this topic:
So says the man who didn’t exactly run a clean campaign himself in 2008. McCain doesn’t really offer anything up bolster that claim, and if one compares this campaign to previous ones, I think you’d have to say McCain is exaggerating at the least, although more likely he’s just full of shit.
McCain calls this the nastiest campaign ever because he needs to try to tap into some feeling against negative campaigning (a misplaced feeling in my opinion, but that’s another topic for another time), since he needs to drum up antipathy towards super PACs by claiming they’re the cause of the nastiness by running negative ads and driving up the candidates negatives.
However, the candidates unfavourables have remained fairly consistent throughout this race according to Gallup’s tracking of the race, and indeed, Santorum’s positive intensity score has increased. But there are other polls looking at favourable and unfavourable numbers, such as the NBC/Wall Street poll [pdf]. Asked to describe their feelings about Romney, the number describing their feelings as “very negative” has been climbing since June 2011 (suggesting something other than super PAC money at work here). Among Republican primary voters, his numbers have been more consistent.
Sen. McCain may be disposed to oppose super PACs, but there is a better way to make this argument than pretending 2012 is a nasty campaign year and laying the blame at negative ads produced by super PACs. Furthermore, a negative ad is not necessarily a “nasty” ad.