Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Scary Stuff

During the course of trick or treating with our daughter this evening, I had at least four different neighbors tell me about how sick they are of the incessant onslaught of campaign ads. And not just the campaign ads, but the endless drone of negative messages.Completely unscientifically, it seems that negative ads are comprising about 80% of the ads that we are seeing on the airwaves. What is interesting is that while the consistent reply from the public seems to be against these messages, common sense and empirical data reflect the fact that the ads achieve their intended results.

Case in point, while the majority of Illinoisans are wondering what Judy's thinking, very few people can actually cite any policy differences between Topinka and Blagojevich. And the same thing goes for races at virtually every level. Issues take a back seat to attacks, and at the end of the day, nobody wins.

It would be refreshing to see an election that was driven by issues not spin, but I think it would take an engaged electorate to demand that it happen. For now, it seems that people find it easier to just change the channel.


At November 1, 2006 at 6:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's less the fault of a disengaged electorate, and more the fault of the card carrying party hacks and extremists that bring us such awful choices.

At November 1, 2006 at 7:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Honorable, has Mell got you scheduled to walk precincts for Judy this weekend?

The pillar of integrity and honest government, you are.

At November 1, 2006 at 8:05 AM, Anonymous Vasyl said...

The problem with the ads is not that they are "negative" -- it's that they lack any real substance or connection to reality.

Negative ads do provide information, and I think there's nothing inherently wrong with running a campaign that is critical of the opponent. There is something wrong, however, with running ads that fudge the truth, distort an opponent's record or position, or lack substance.

Political scientists have conducted several studies that show that voters do, in fact, get valid information from negative ads; and anyone who has been in politics can attest that negative ads work.

The problem here is that too many politicians have adopted a win-at-all-costs strategy, and approve ads that are untruthful. And we voters let them get away with it.

One way to address this problem would be to require that a copy of any broadcast political ad be available for public examination 24 hours before it runs, along with all documentation supporting the claim.

I know most people will not have the time to check new ads, but the idea that your opponent will have 24 hours advance notice of your attack will create some incentive to make sure that your attack is truthful.

At November 1, 2006 at 10:08 AM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...


For what it's worth, Alderman's Mell loyalty and friendship is a lot more solid than that of a lot of other people in this business. His ward organization has been backing, and will continue to back, the entire Democratic slate for next week. Go snark somewhere else.

At November 1, 2006 at 10:27 AM, Anonymous Goodbye Napoleon said...

I agree with Vasyl's first paragraph, but not all his suggestions.

I don't have a problem with all negative advertising, if it was valid or based on something a candidate legitimately said or did. Let's take the Bean / McSweeney ads for example. I'm neither involved with either camp nor do I live in that district.

Bean ran an ad about McSweeney's anti-choice comments, in the ad she included an actual tape of what candidate McSweeney said. That ad might be considered negative, but I believe it also to be true and valid.

On the other side McSweeney ran an ad saying "the press calls Bean's ads lies and negative" unfortunately, McSweeney didn't actually rely on press reports. Instead he used quotes from the biased one-man show Jeff Berkowitz and called the quotes "press," in my opinion those ads are invalid and based on false claims.

The Governor's people may have looked at this election as one that required them to win at all costs, but any shred of credibility he may have previously held onto is now gone. By using false and invalid attacks on his opponent and then, as of late jumping on the George Bush bandwagon in his latest ad, the Governor has demonstrated himself to be - with his own millions - a say anything windbag. I remember members of the GA and local politicians speaking out against the Bush administration and the war in Iraq for years, Blago was nowhere to be found. Now in November, he's found his inner-anti-Bush . . . Perhaps he has a hard time criticizing Bush because he's in fact a Republican, remember "I not only voted for Ronald Reagan once, but I voted for Ronald Reagan two times," I'm sure Walter Mondale appreciates your efforts as a team player Governor . . .

John, sorry for the anti-Blago rant, I can't help myself sometimes.


At November 1, 2006 at 2:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is why Obama's timing may be right. People are so ready for a positive message, and are willing to take it even if they don't agree with it 100%, because they are burned out on the negativity.

The candidates that are able to meet attacks with ideas that they public wants to hear are going to do well.

At November 2, 2006 at 3:16 PM, Blogger Extreme Wisdom said...


Negative ads tend to be more accurate than positives ads. This is based upon study after study of political advertising.

If you really want to improve things, open up the process to alternatives. This is as easy as equalizing the requirements for all candidates interested in any position.

Politics tends toward a natural bipolarity that doesn't need any protectionist legislation helping the duopoly.

More options means more people trying to persuade voters about their ideas. Two parties means trying to depress your opponent's turn out.

At November 3, 2006 at 10:55 AM, Anonymous Truthful James said...

John --

I, like you, despair of the negative ads.

It seems to me that what we are seeing is the emascualtion of the state and local party structures -- at least in the realm of the federal offices.

What I have seen in the Republican field and in the Democrat field as well are endless solicitations from the Washington based Senante and House Campaign Committees on both sides of the aisle. I have seen close to zero solicitations from either State party. It is as if they do not exist. Of course, local candidates, whether running for Washington, Springfield or County offices, solicit in force.

The State Chairmen become traffic directors, without the self collected resources to be distributed to Illinois races.

The mantra from State HQ is basically -- to the candidates -- show us that you are viable by raising your own money. No mention of matching grants and the like.

I might add here, that by not obtaining a bankroll of money from the usual Illinois sources they forfeit the discipline over the candidates.

National figures come in and raise beaucoup monet at local soirees and trundle it back to Washington. Later on they will be honored guests at a local campaign headquarters and raise a lesser amount of money to be retained. The State party honcho is an afterthought. He may do the scheduling (the only form of discipline he can impose.)

If you will look at the credits, most negative campaigning is originated and paid for by the national party. The TV spots could, with careful editing and overlay be sent out to several states, changing only the name of the target and the favored candidate. They are invariably negative and fearmongering. Fear is easier to sell in a thirty second spot

Tight races get the benefit of small teams from Washington who ramp up the fear factor on the local level. They bring in money. And each candidate that accepts the Queen's shilling, obeys's the Queen's orders.

Is it any wonder that these attack ads mobilize the opposition as well as the friendlies. Hate and discontent run rampant. Check the Blogs

Imitation being the most sincere form of flattery, on the State level, Todd Stroger accepting Blago's shilling ramps up the negative ads against Tony P.

Back in the days when I was leaving my youth behind, candidates were elected based on trust. The voter having agreed on certain positions with his candidate, trusted him to make good law on positions not yet taken. And, when elected, the representative could allow himself to differ from the voters, should the occasion demand.

Now, Politics is deemed to be total war by other means, to turn Clausewitz on his head. And we are much the worse for it.

At November 3, 2006 at 11:07 AM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...


Very eloquently put. Thanks.

At November 4, 2006 at 11:07 AM, Anonymous Lisa said...

Representative Fritchey,

You are absolutely right about Alderman Mell. Salt of the earth. Love him!

To anon - if you're going to talk smack at least have the balls to do so under your real name and not under the cloak of "anonymous".


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