Negative campaign ads in California…

Howard Kurtz provides a rundown of the negative campaign ads flying back and forth between Bill Simon and Gray Davis in the California race for governor. Going negative, or fighting back negatively, is traditional politics. While it would be nice to suppose that candidates should elevate their discourse to some higher level during a campaign, the fact is such a state has never been realized in the American experience. Prior to the Jacksonian era, candidates did not campaign. Party-affiliated newspapers did that. And they got nasty. In fact, today we are polite, even wimpy, by comparison. While people claim to dislike negative campaigning, as Kurtz says, “there’s a ton of evidence [academic and otherwise] that [negative ads] move numbers.” There is even credible evidence demonstrating that taking the high road against a negative campaigner is a recipe for failure. Yes, people do hate negative campaigning…when it negatively affects their candidate.