But aging radicals and old scandals don't tap today's fears, which may be why they haven't resonated. "Arguing about personal associations pales in comparison" to the current grim economic news, says Dr. West.
Even though voters say they don't like them, negative ads may not be a bad thing, political scientists say. Attack ads are more likely to be about issues than are positive ads. They're likely to contain more information, back up their claims with evidence and delve into details.