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Carter and I were doing our dog-and-pony show for a real-estate group – telling them what happens inside campaigns, taking potshots at each other and generally trying to lighten up a crowd that had just endured speeches from the gubernatorial candidates.
 
During the Q&A, we got a familiar question: “Why can’t candidates be positive instead of attacking each other? If I was being interviewed for a job, I wouldn’t attack the other people being interviewed.”
 
We launched into our usual spirited defense of negatives (they work, they are generally more truthful than positive ads, etc.) But it was best said in a recent essay by Paul Begala, the Democratic consultant turned TV pundit, titled “Why We Need More Negative Political Ads.”
 
It’s worth reading, and it offers great insight about the genre. A couple of highlights:
 
“I love negative ads. When I see a positive ad, even one from a candidate I support, my reaction often ranges from bored to annoyed. But show me a negative ad—even one against a candidate I support—and my blood starts to race….
 
“The Founding Fathers loved going negative. Heck, the Declaration of Independence is one long negative ad….
 
“So the next time a public moralist starts lamenting the role of negative advertising in our political system, just explain that it’s an outgrowth of the stakes involved. As the old saying has it, politics ain’t beanbag—and a political campaign isn’t selling soft drinks. The outcome matters—and influencing it is worth every negative word or image a candidate and his team can muster.”
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dap916
# dap916
Saturday, March 24, 2012 11:31 AM
I, too, like negative ads. But, then, the term "negative ads" can be everything from a snarky remark about an opponent to an outright lambasting including accusations and things just short of libel.

Snarky: "Joe Candidate has shown his support for less taxation for middle income Americans even though there are some that run for office that are so rich they can't understand how this is important to most working people in our country".

Lambasting/short of libel: "Joe Candidate will not accept higher taxes for middle income folks like his opponent supports because he was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth without ever having to work for a living".

What works depends on what venue a candidate is using and where the ads are placed. You keep your base with the "lambasting" ads and you generate a kind of humorous inolvement support from independents/undecides with "snarky" ads.

They all have their place, IMO.

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