Negative ads usually work, despite the fact that everybody whines about them. Not this year! Political scientists (A real job title? Not sure) say that this year's campaign is—as old Bob Schieffer grouchily pointed out last night—the most negative in the history of history. But they also say that this time, that negativity is actually backfiring, for once. Apparently "imaginary bullshit" ranks lower on voters' priority lists than ever before:
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.
To sum up the actual data for you: large majorities of voters say McCain is the more negative candidate, and that the negative ads aren't working, and the polls back them up. But it's still cost-effective to run crazy negative ads once, and let the media do the rest of the work by writing hundreds of free stories about your accusations. It's only the fact that everyone is worried about their bank accounts now that makes this election any different. And besides :
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.