Talk:Negative campaigning

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Value of ON content and quality of reference[edit]

The content added from the ON reference remains in this article, but the reference has been removed. This action is disputed and a conversation is ongoing here. Uriah923 06:17, 2 September 2005 (UTC)

Corrected jumps to numerous unsubstantiated conclusions[edit]

This article as I found it drew some hasty conclusions based on little or no evidence. It seemed to be based on writers' general perceptions of matters particular to their experience, but with no broad basis in the study of political history, political science, mass communication, rhetoric or linguistics. It would have received a failing grade if any of my 9th grade civics students had submitted it in response to my class assignment. With the only two cited sources refering not to scholarly literature but to the work of an advocacy journalist and a political commentator who is a merchant of political communications services, the content is still scantily supported. However, I've trimmed out some of the most obvious hasty conclusions and broad generalizations. In an election for president there is some mudslinging.

  • "Negative campaigning is trying to win an election..."'

Negative campaigns(mudslinging) are also used to effect parliamentary, legislative and executive policies, and to effect constituent opinion to discourage appeals for alternative policies. Such campaigns have been used to advance religious ideals and to build markets for products and services. For example, anti-war activists often use negative appeals to campaign against foreign policies when no election is pending. Religious zealots have at times used mass communication to campaign against opposing doctrimes. A campaign is not just an element of electoral processes, but rather is an approach to the public and to leaders in myriad situations that involves multiple messages in diverse forums over a period of time. The article as I found it did not explore the role of negative campaigning by the government in the United States to support policies, such as the "this is your brain on drugs" campaign used overtly to support legislative prohibitions against some substances and implicitly to support continued spending on enforcement of those prohibitions.

  • "Negative campaigning is often viewed as being most common in American elections, but such tactics are also present in Canada, Europe and many other democracies."

This advances an empty truth. "People often dye their hair purple.." does not tell anyone how often or who does this. It uses a broad generality (often) to avoid providing quantitative information. Nor does it explore the role of negative campaigns used to sustain unilateral, non-democratic governments, where negative campaigns might be the most widely used. The use of the phrase "often viewed" does however offer a hint that the content represents a point of view.

  • "One of the first outright smear campaigns in United States politics took place in 1950"

This advances an idealistic view of the first 154 years of U.S. history not supported by a factual review of that history. Candidates have been smearing opponents since the early years of U.S. history.

  • "Negative tactics are more often used by challengers, but increasingly by incumbents."

When and where? What worldwide studies support this conclusion? If negative campaigns are more often used by challengers, why is the Republican administration supported by several opinion programs such O-Reilly Factor and Rush Limbaugh that conduct ongoing negative campaigns?

  • "On the whole, negative campaigning is seen in a negative light."

Seen by whom? Who surveyed a representative sample of "the whole" to find evidence supporting this hasty conclusion?

  • "If negative ads are not well crafted they can produce a backlash as voters dislike any sense of bullying."

Some voters rally around bullying. If this were not true, Hitler would not have been elected in Germany. And we have not evidence it is the craftiness of the campaign that results in more or less negative backlash. It might just as well be a factor of culture at a particular time and place. In the 1930's, negative campaigning might have worked in Germany because it promoted ideas that other people were responsible for negative circumstance voters perceived. Without the negative circumstance -- poverty arising from investment in war and an oppressive peace agreement -- negative approaches might not have worked.

Also, there is no evidence that the craftiness of the advertiser is related to some voter's disdain for bullying. On a hunch, I would look for greater disdain for bullying among more educated voters and among those with more cosmopolitant life experiences.

  • "Increasingly in the United States, negative campaigning is becoming more effective than risky."

This does not represent a comprehensive study of 230 years of United States politics.

  • "Opponents contend that while the..."

This tends to divide people into two camps -- those who advocate negative campaigning and those who oppose it. This assertion is not even consistent with the final sentence in the same paragraph, which stated advocates of negative campaigning sometimes oppose it.

  • "Often, those guilty of negative campaigning and publicity, the press and politicians, are the first to denounce it by telling the attacker to be nice, stay clean, be positive, not hurt others, not get personal, not to scare people, etc."

Negative campaigning is not a crime. Without a legal prohibition, calling those who use the tactic "guilty" is nothing but the writer's personal point of view. Also, "the press" is a very broad category. Diverse members of the press might both support and oppose negative campaigning, so of course some would be among those who denounce it. Without evidence "Sometimes" will always be a safer adverb that "often." The press could be among the first because the press is among the first to publish most ideas -- that is what the press does.

  • "Due to their implicit shady nature and vast cost, some..."

This is a personal attack against those who practice negative campaigning, implying there is something shady about their activity. A campaign that says an incompetent president lied is no shadier than the very public State of the Union address in which a president advanced poorly constructed lies. Negative campaign techniques might be shady sometimes, but can also be overt. The claim of "vast costs" contradicts assertions in reference to dirty tricks that such campaigns can be conducted at little or no cost.

Also, the construction established as facts the opinions of a few who seek to regulate political speech.

  • "Such restrictions would eliminate...."

That is an opinion about a result not substantiated by evidence. A campaign against negative campaigning is itself a negative campaign.

  • "where negative claims cannot be sufficiently explained due to time constraints,"

Again a supposition of fact based on opinion. Extensive political dialogue occurs in television and radio, where negative campaigns are often exposed and explored in their most minute detail -- the "Swift Boat" ads against John Kerry would be an example.

This still reads like a naive essay by a political player and not as an informed encyclopedic article written by a scholar of social science, but I've trimmed some of the most overt point-of-view and corrected some of the most deficient logic.

After correcting existing deficiencies, I surveyed readily available literature and revised the article to reflect support for the efficacy of negative campaigning as established in academic research. Semantex 20:34, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

Dear Semantex: I remember that many proposed attacking Bush's AWOL military record (and there was a big CBS flap over investigation of it), but I thought that the Democrats decided not to do it. Did the party actually run ads attacking Bush's Vietnam War record? Should there not be discussion of the primary purpose of negative ads, which is to suppress voter turnout? How about a chart tracking the growth of negative political advertising with decline over time of voter turnout? Is there any long-term democracy in the world with a heavier proportion of (unregulated) attack ads and lower voter turnout than the United States? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Lastudies (talkcontribs) 00:46, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

Media mention[edit] KillerChihuahua?!? 14:19, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

Move article[edit]

This article title is not NPOV -- attack campaigning is only negative to the recipient and not the attacker. It should be renamed "Attack campaigning". Arlright 04:23, 15 June 2007 (UTC)


  • Oppose as per Wikipedia:Naming conventions (common names). Negative campaigning is a common term used by a variety of media sources, while attack campaigning appears to still be a neologism. This is bourne out by a Ghits differential of 211,000 to 715. While attack campaigning might be a better term, Wikipedia is not the location to retrain the world on how to speak English. --Allen3 talk 15:45, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

It was requested that this article be renamed but there was no consensus for it be moved. --Stemonitis 06:36, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Class war[edit]

To be included in the article it should not just be something negative said about an opponent. There are thousands of those in any election. We need to have evidence that it has been spoken of as a dramatic and important example of negative campaigning. Good examples of what is suitable would be the 1993 Chrétien attack ad or Willie Horton. In my view the class war allegations don't come anywhere near this level. - SimonP (talk) 23:12, 11 April 2010 (UTC)