Earlier today I was listening to a morning news program discuss negative political ads. The discussion centered on the apparent contradiction between their purported success and the fact that when asked, nearly everyone detests them.
I think this “paradox” stems from several factors:
1) The effectiveness of negative ads is overrated.
Perhaps not always, but often. Maybe those who tell us they are working have the most to gain from their use.
2) Though we DO dislike them, we are still influenced by them to varying degrees.
I have to admit this is true for me. There are reasons for me to disapprove of both candidates in this election. The negative ads from both campaigns give me additional reasons to do so. Though I hate the ads and their use, my thinking is still influenced by them.
3) Their influence contributes to our distaste for them.
Is this influence part of the reason we don’t like them? I think it is. At any rate, this dual response would explain the apparent disparity between negads being unpopular yet effective.
4) Negativity is in the eye of the beholder.
There is a thin line between a spirited defense and an offensive offense. It’s hard to point out why you should be elected without also pointing out why your opponent should not. Determining when this line is crossed can be difficult.
What do you think? Are they as effective as we are led to believe? And if so, why does something we all seem to dislike, continue to work?
I’m ready for them to be gone. Unfortunately, until they cease to be effective (or at least perceived so), they will continue to be present.