Tags: America's Forum | political ads | negative advertising | midterm election ads

Negative Ads Can Push Candidate Over the Edge

By    |   Monday, 08 September 2014 12:20 PM

Negative ads won’t drastically change most voters’ minds, but they can marginally impact election outcomes, according to Ken Goldstein, a politics professor at the University of San Francisco, who appeared Monday on "America’s Forum" on Newsmax TV.

Ads airing in tight U.S. Senate races across the country are being watched, Goldstein said, and may provide the narrow edge a candidate needs.

"When the United States Senate hangs in the balance and you have these toss up races, these campaigns are desperately looking for that ad that can, you know, not move a race 10 or 15 percentage points, but can move it one or two in a Michigan, one or two in an Iowa, one or two in an Arkansas," he said.

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Contrary to popular belief, negative ads have been around as far back as experts can recall, he said.

"I'm not so sure that negativity's bad and you know, what's the major reason why Abraham Lincoln didn't have a negative television advertisement? It's because television didn't exist," he said.

Democrats running negative ads about New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie and the bridge-closing scandal are probably not being wise stewards of campaign funds, according to Goldstein. 

"It sounds to me like piling on a little bit," Goldstein said. "I guess that's the reason, that could be the only reason, but with everything that went on with Bridgegate, but even more importantly for Chris Christie what's gone on in New Jersey in terms of the economic situation in New Jersey and what's gone on in Atlantic City, I'm not sure he's at the top of the Republican potential folks on the ticket now and I'm not sure why dollars are being focused on him."

While there’s no formula to ensuring a negative ad will catch hold, successful ones typically are a function of "research on the front end, testing what’s going to work and delivering in compelling form."

Goldstein predicts positive ads in many of the swing state Senate races.

"People in these states are angry at President Obama, angry at Democrats," he said. "They're ready to vote against Democrats, but they need to be convinced that Republicans are over that basic threshold."

Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat, will likely be hurt by ads that were pulled in which the Begich campaign attempted to paint his Republican opponent, Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan, as soft on crime. The family of crime victims portrayed in the ad asked that they be taken off the airwaves.

"When you're putting what one thinks might be a kill shot in an ad, you better have everything backed up and when it's something as sensitive as that, you better make sure the family knows and approves of it," he said.

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Negative ads won't drastically change most voters' minds, but they can marginally impact election outcomes, Ken Goldstein, a politics professor at the University of San Francisco, said Monday on "America's Forum."
political ads, negative advertising, midterm election ads
Monday, 08 September 2014 12:20 PM
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