Skip to main content

Affirming the Benefits of Negative Campaigning

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Now that Hillary Clinton's "3 a.m. insistently ringing red phone" commercial has achieved political advertisement hall-of-fame status, political scientists John Geer and Ken Goldstein argue in a Los Angeles Times op-ed piece that negative campaign ads — far from being the scourge that most commentators make them out to be — energize the electorate and facilitate an informed debate about the candidates' relative merits.

"Negative ads," write Geer and Goldstein in the Times, "are more likely to focus on issues, are more specific and contain many more facts than positive ads. They enhance political interest and familiarity with the candidates' qualifications more than positive ads, which, in turn, raises citizens' likelihood of voting. In short, negative ads are more likely than positive ads to foster the kind of engagement we all want from the American electorate."

Some of the professors' main points, as well as their research, were highlighted in the piece "Lies, Damned Lies and Campaign Advertising."

Video: Watch the Clinton commercial