The effect of negative campaign ads on voters - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

The effect of negative campaign ads on voters

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WSIL  --  With only eight days until the election, campaign ads for both presidential, state, and local races seem to be everywhere.

Looking at the presidential race, 70% of ads contain some sort of negative attack.

The Wesleyan Media Project estimates $1.56 billion has been spent so far in the 2015-2016 election cycle on political advertising.
And some SIU students, are noticing a common theme.

SIU sophomore Abigail Wolf says, "all they really do is create cynicism, because there are negative ads on both sides. So you don't really get an idea about either candidate because you see so many negative ads about all of them."

But do these negative ads actually work on voters?

Political analyst John Jackson says they do, which is why candidates take this route for two main reasons.

The first reason is to convince undecided voters to in their favor, because the other option is so bad.

And the second reason, to try to depress voter turnout for their opponent.

"That's what they're designed to do, to go affect the opponent's base, to try to get those people so disgusted that they stay home," says Jackson.

A Wesleyan Media Project chart shows negativity has steadily risen, since the 2000 presidential election, with state and local races are following suit.

Just during the month of October, 75% of WSIL's advertising has been geared towards state and local politics.

Jackson believes it's a trend we may have to get used to. 

"People get elected running negative campaigns. I think some of them are awful frankly, they're the worst I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of bad, I think we've hit an new low," says Jackson.

WSIL asked Facebook and Twitter followers if campaign ads influenced their decision in any way; more than 70% said "no".

About a third said, they're just ready for this election cycle to be over.

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