There is an overwhelming public response that political campaigning is more negative and unethical than it has been throughout our history. Voters are not happy with today’s political candidates and their campaign tactics. Whether this is just an opinion, true or not, it is a discussion of debate. Negative campaigns, and the methods used to deliver them, have been around as long as the country. The First Amendment that supports both freedom of speech and freedom of the press is used as a crutch to mudslinging. Is the general public influenced by the messages they see in negative campaigning? Clear answers to this question are not apparent because research on negative campaigning has generated conflicting results. Some studies suggest that the negative campaign ads are easier to remember. In a study published in the December 2007 Journal of Advertising, it found that negative political advertising makes the body want to turn away physically, but the mind remembers negative messages indiscriminately and sometimes incorrectly. On the other hand, voters might be tarnished by the information they are exposed to from their opposing candidate, therefore, have a greater influence on voters’ attitudes and vote decisions. A survey conducted by the Project on Campaign Conduct find that 59% believe that all or most candidates deliberately twist the truth and 39% believe that all or most candidates deliberately lie to voters.
Voters may tolerate attacks on each other's public records, but personal attacks on an opponent's private life are another matter. Subjects such as alcoholism, family and other personal problems are rarely mentioned in any negative campaign ad. Voters often get lost in the debate and often refrain from voting when an opponent is reduced to name-calling and mudslinging in their campaign. Even candidates who vow not to run a single negative campaign ad may feel pressured to respond to their opponent's allegations. Bits and pieces of a...
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