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Political ads: Negative vs. positive | News

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Political ads: Negative vs. positive
News, Politics
Political ads: Negative vs. positive

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The competition between political candidates in Arkansas is heating up this year and so are their ad campaigns. With the Senate race in the national spotlight, candidates are pulling out all the stops, and that includes bashing their opponent. But do negative ads really make an impact? And how do they hold up against positive campaigns?

Dr. Greg Schufeldt, a political science professor at UALR, studies the influence of negative ads versus positive ads. He says it's all in the eye of the beholder, or rather, the political party you're affiliated with because everyone sees the facts differently.

Schufeldt says candidates strive to humanize themselves so voters find them relatable. But the fierce competition this year has yielded many negative ads, they just go by a different name. Schufeldt says candidates and parties will tell you they don't run negative ads, they run contrast ads.

"Republicans view this race as whether or not Senator Pryor is too much like President Obama," Schufeldt says, "and Democrats think maybe Tom Cotton is too extreme for the state of Arkansas."

That's why candidates rely on early campaigning, so they can create a framework of how they want to be portrayed over time. Every detail, from the narrator's voice to the candidate's attire matters greatly.

"Candidates often look the same regardless of the party, they often have their sleeves rolled up like I do to show they understand an honest day's work."

But the ads that we see most often, candidate bashing candidate, can leave us feeling aggravated, especially when they pop up every time we turn on the T.V.

However, those negative ads do have a purpose. They're aimed at firing up those voters who are already passionate for certain candidates while trying to motivate the voters who are stuck on the fence.

"What we see is independent voters are actually the ones who get turned off and they're the ones who stay home on Election Day," Schufeldt says.

It wasn't always this way.

"Ronald Reagan's famous morning in America ad, there isn't any citation, any backup information, so negative or contrast ads often have more information, but it's unpleasant to watch them. So more than any one thing Reagan said about what he did in his four years of office, it communicated a feeling."

Schufeldt says if there is one lesson candidates can take from Ronald Reagan, it's that being memorable doesn't meaning being negative.

News, Politics