Negative campaigning works.
Negative ads are also generally are more ‘honest’ than positive ads – they generally reference their sources. They are more likely to energise supporters into taking action – even Obama’s campaigning to potential volunteers use the scare-tactics of Rove, Cheney, Bush and ‘more of the same’.
It especially works when you are behind in the polls against a popular candidate.
John McCain and his Republican allies are “readying a newly aggressive assault on Sen. Barack Obama’s character, believing that to win in November they must shift the conversation back to questions about the Democrat’s judgment, honesty and personal associations,” several top Republicans told the Washington Post.
They are only effective however, if they tap into something that the populace are already concerned about. Negative ads will miss the mark if they make outrageous, unrealistic or incredible claims.
McCain’s campaign is engaging in a massive negative campaigning spree. Unfortunately its attacks on Obama’s character are misplaced. On the whole, Americans are not scared of Obama. Most character issues were addressed during the primaries.
McCain’s negative campaigning has also overwhelmed his positive message, and has made his campaign look overly negative, with no clear narative or vision. This hyper-negativity can turn off voters, particularly the all-important independent voters that were McCain’s biggest supporters, sending them to Obama or depressing their vote altogether.