Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Is this campaign more negative?

I think Byron York over at The Corner brings up a good point.
That 30 percent figure [percentage in a New York Times Poll who said that this campaign was more negative than past campaigns -- chris] is lower than this point in 2004, when 41 percent said the campaign was more negative than previous years.  At this point in 1992, 34 percent said the campaign was more negative.  And at this point in 1988, 47 percent said it was more negative.
Assessing the negativity of a campaign is not a science. There are several variations on the questions. For instance, is the total volume of negativity higher? Or are the negative attacks, by themselves, more vicious than previous attacks? Or is it just a matter of percentages (100% of McCain ads of late have been negative). I think that the negativity of this campaign, especially coming from the McCain side, ranks high on the viciousness scale and the percentage scale. But the volume of the attacks doesn't quite seem as bad as in past years.

I also think that there is another aspect to how we rate negativity: how effective is the negative campaigning against our favorite candidate?

When Gore and Kerry were on the ropes in 2000 and 2004, the negative attacks from the Republicans seemed really bad. But the McCain attacks, while more vicious in character, also seem pathetic. They bounce of Obama and strike back at McCain. Which almost makes them kind of fun to watch.

Fun in a sickening way.

So, yes, I think McCain's attacks are more negative than in past years, but I also think this campaign has resolved to one that will be decided on issues more than negativity. So the overall negativity rating just feels lower.


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