When political ads attack
Candidates throw punches at each other through political attack ads, using them to bring their opponents down, without smearing their hands, and ending their attack with the famous political ad phrase, “I approve this message.” Politicians use these political attack ads to conceive negative images in voters’ heads of their opponent. They have become a source for attacking opponents and spreading the negative aspects and flaws of them to the public. However, millions of dollars are spent on these political ads that are bringing forth negativity—either turning most of the public away with a scowl or turning voters over to the candidate from the opponent. In this election season, airing political ads has hit an all time high. According to Wesleyan Media Project, Political Advertising Analysis, “the number of ads aired in the presidential general election passed the one million mark last week. As of Oct. 29, the two candidates, their party committees, and supporting interest groups had sponsored 1,015,615 ads since June 1, a 39.1 percent increase over 2008 (730,041) and a 41 percent increase over 2004 (720,064), during the same period.”
Though ads have been a huge factor in the 2012 presidential race, more negative attack ads were aired than positive, giving the public negative information, in hopes to repulse them from voting for their opponent. As political ads are becoming more popular and an important source for campaigning, they are also growing stronger with negativity spewing out of their messages. A negative ad is defined when the opponent’s name is mentioned in a candidate’s sponsored ad.
For the 2012 presidential race, 70 percent of the ads were negative ads, compared to 2008, which only had 9.1 percent of negative ads, according to the analysis from the Wesleyan Media Project, and “7 out of 10 of the ads aired in this year’s presidential contests have been negative—that is, they mentioned an opponent. This compares to fewer than one in 10 ads aired during the 2008 presidential race up to this point that were negative.”
Candidates will continue their political attack on one another through political ads because that is their way of taking charge of the campaign. Vanderbilt University did an “Ad Rating Project,” which allowed the public to express their opinions about the political ads this election season. According to the project’s statistics, 66 percent of Americans who participated in the project said that the ads they saw were negative. This proves that the political ads—when portraying a negative message—are affecting the public and they are very aware when the ads are negative.
“I think it’s very likely to be the most negative race since the advent of television,” John Geer, professor of political science at Vanderbilt and director of the university’s Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, told NPR.
When it comes to raising money, presidential candidates do anything possible to raise money in order to have a successful campaign. According to the Washington Post 2012 Presidential Campaign Finance Explorer, President Barack Obama raised $1.08 billion and Gov. Mitt Romney raised $1.13 billion for their presidential campaigns, making this the most expensive campaign in history. This really makes the campaign even more fascinating, considering that so much negativity was portrayed through these attack ads, while large sums of money played a part in the political ad game.
According to the Washington Post Campaign 2012 site, President Barack Obama spent $457.6 million in this presidential race on ads with 85 percent of that sum spent on negative ads, while Gov. Mitt Romney spent $356.8 million on ads with 91 percent of that sum spent on negative ads. Both candidates spent the most money on campaigning in Florida, fighting for the majority of votes.
Presidential candidates are very eager to spend millions on negative political ads from the money raised. It’s somewhat shocking to see the amount of money spend on ads, especially when it’s clear that most of that money went to negative attack ads in this presidential race.
This presidential race was clearly ruled by negative ads consuming all the mediums that candidates could use to their advantage. It doesn’t matter what political party the candidate belongs to; they all use these attack ads in order to turn voters over to their side. Political ads will always stay as one of the main resources for campaigning, but when the race gets tight and close to call, attack ads are there for them to throw that needed punch at their opponent. President Obama won the presidential race battle that was ruled by negative attack ads.