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Opinion

Political ads go negative this year

October 27, 2006

There was a time not long ago when political advertisements in the news media supported candidates based on the positive aspects of their political agendas, but it seems those ads have been tossed aside in recent years. Now, the only political ads running are negative ones that only seem to annoy prospective voters.

Some researchers claim these ads instill just enough anger and excitement in voters to make them vote for an opposing candidate. It has proven to be an effective strategy, according to Ruth Ann Weaver Lariscy, a University of Georgia professor who researched the effects of negative political advertising. “Voters learn a lot. They hate negative ads, but this may actually increase the likelihood that they vote,” she said in a University of Georgia Research Magazine article authored by Allyson Mann.

The study suggests Americans are more likely to vote based on information they don’t like about a candidate rather than voting for a candidate based on what he or she believes -- a complete 180- degree spin on the political ads of yore.

I giggled at Patty Wetterling’s political ad claiming that the U.S. House of Representatives has “at least one child predator,” and a host of other Republicans that are willing to cover up what former Senator Mark Foley has done.

It remains a mystery to me how a politician from Florida should have any influence on a Minnesota voter’s opinion, and it seems far-fetched to believe that there are more of Foley’s type lurking in the offices of the Capitol building.

I can understand the Democratic Party’s excitement over the Foley scandal. The circumstances sur- rounding Foley are far too juicy for anyone to disregard.

Americans salivate over stories like this, and it would be foolish for Democrats to shy away from this political gold mine.

What does that say about Americans?

Quite a lot, actually.

We care more about some candidate’s sexual escapades rather than real, meaningful issues. Everyone likes seeing others flail in attempt to combat failure, and that’s why these negative ads have had such success in the recent past.

“I don’t have a favorite negative ad. I love them all,” Lariscy later said in the article.

What a shame.

A political advertisement researcher is actually saying she loves negative ads candidates make about their opponents instead of praising the benefits of positive advertising.

The American people need to take a good look at their political desires and choose a candidate based on what he or she can do for our country, not how he or she can further screw up our country.

Ben Jipson is a student at UW-River Falls.

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