An editorial in The Christian Science Monitor suggests that negative political ads aren’t debate, which is stating the obvious. What’s not so obvious is how voters feel, and what they think, about such advertising. While many polls seem to indicate that voters don’t like such tactics, other evidence suggests otherwise. Politicians use negative ads because they work, i.e. they get the polls moving in the “right” direction. They get voters off their keisters and into the voting booths (or not, if that’s the plan).
That Gray Davis has suspended attack advertising in his California campaign for governor has more to do with his commanding position in the race than any desire for heightened public debate.
The CSM editors suggest that we’d all be better off if campaigns were handled differently:
A stronger curative…would be to hold more public debates, especially the old-fashioned kind with no moderator and no journalists with “gotcha” questions. They could be held in malls, schools, community centers, and the like