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Do smears and attacks in campaigns influence you?

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Do smears and attacks in campaigns influence you?

Postby joehisa » Sun Oct 05, 2008 8:40 am

As a political junkie, and with the way this campaign is going, I'm curious about people's thoughts on something. The public always says they hate negative ads and attacks, yet research constantly shows that they work. In doing a bit of research, I found an interesting article -- and would love to hear people's thoughts on it.

Four years ago in 2004, Richard Davis (Rick Davis), wrote a very interesting article about how smear campaigns work in American politics -- and how to make them effective ("The Anatomy of a Smear Campaign"). What's interesting also is that he is now head of McCain's 2008 campaign

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editor ... gn/?page=2
Rick Davis, writing for the Boston Globe, March 21, 2004.

Here's a short quote:

"The premise of any smear campaign rests on a central truth of politics: Most of us will vote for a candidate we like and respect, even if we don't agree with him on every issue. But if you can cripple a voter's basic trust in a candidate, you can probably turn his vote. The idea is to find some piece of personal information that is tawdry enough to raise doubts, repelling a candidate's natural supporters. It's not necessary, however, for a smear to be true to be effective. The most effective smears are based on a kernel of truth and applied in a way that exploits a candidate's political weakness.

At the time he wrote the article, Davis was complaining about such tactics, using how Bush operatives smeared McCain in 2000 (he was McCain's campaign manager in 2000 too) to illustrate how smears work, and their influence on people. Now it's a few years later, and (at least the way I see it), Davis himself has completely jumped onto the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" wagon.

But I don't mean for this to be specifically McCain/Obama related though (otherwise I would've posted this in one of the current McCain/Obama topics). Smears and negative ads are there in just about every campaign today, from Mayor to City Council to ballot propositions... and I'm wondering what people think (those outside the US as well). With the cloak of anonymity here, do you admit that negative smears really do sway you somewhat? (regardless of candidate or party)? Or do you consider yourself completely immune to them? Do you wind up getting what you consider valuable information from them, or immediately reject anything in a negative ad? Can you completely dismiss them out of your head, or do they stay in the back of your mind even if you don't want them to?

Have a look at the article. It's not that long, and is quite fascinating (basically, how to launch a smear campaign against your opponent -- written four years ago by the person now the head of McCain's presidential campaign). Is he right? Does this stuff work with you or people you know?
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Postby lennonluvr9 » Sun Oct 05, 2008 2:28 pm

Nah. I know a lot of people do, but I dont pay them any mind. Probably because my mind's made up, but even if it wasnt, I'd find out about the candidates in other ways then listening to their commercials.
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Postby TS2 » Sun Oct 05, 2008 7:19 pm

Nope. Why do you think I'm for McCain?
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Postby Rac_Rules » Sun Oct 05, 2008 9:53 pm

No, politicians are experts at twisting the facts to make people look bad. Something that sounds horrible, even malicious, in an ad could be not nearly that bad at all.
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Postby Nexas » Sun Oct 05, 2008 11:43 pm

Smears are just an admittion by their giver that they will do anything to achieve their positions. And who's to say they won't smear their own people too :roll:
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Postby Al-Bob » Sun Oct 05, 2008 11:54 pm

No way jose!!
Smear attacks are what politics in Washington have created to try and stir up the media against their opponent...both sides that do smear attacks are ruthless.
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Postby joehisa » Mon Oct 06, 2008 2:26 am

Interesting. So far it seems everyone here says they don't work on them, but is that cognative dissonance, or could it really be true (as much as people might wish it to be true). I too, of course, would like to say the same thing (that they have no effect on me), but if I wasn't absolutely sure about someone (or a ballot proposition), I wonder if it actually might have some sort of effect on me. If I'm solidly behind Candidate X, then smears from Candidate Y about X aren't going to change my mind. But if I haven't made up my mind yet... I honestly don't know myself, which is why I was asking everyone.

And I'm someone cynical to the point of where, no matter who crafted it, whenever I see the name of a bill (ie,"Patriot Act", "Clean Water Act"), I know in my gut through past experiences, to believe the opposite of the name they place on the bill. Kind of like how, around elections, the outside groups that make all those TV ads call themselves "Citizens for XXX" or "Citizens against XXX" --- you can almost bet your last dollar on believing the complete opposite of whatever their registered name is.

While I don't mean this discussion to be about McCain/Obama, it'll be interesting from an analytical point to see if McCain's recent offensive moves the polls any (if any other outside event occurs, there will be no way to tell, but if everything else stays the same for the next few days, it'll be interesting to see if there's a shift in the daily poll numbers).

I'm curious.. what's are some examples you've seen, of really bad, gutter negative attacks? About opponents in any kind of race, or ballot propositions? Doesn't matter if the smears are true or not (as Rick Davis says in his article, it makes no difference if it's true). And have they worked? Even on stuff as "boring" as zoning laws (ie, wanting to build a WalMart where a school used to be), I remember some really nasty stuff thrown about on both sides.

I also am curious to hear from people who live overseas as well. How nasty/clean are the campaigns where you live? Are there restrictions on what can be said (either written, or understood?) Do they work?
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Postby Al-Bob » Mon Oct 06, 2008 5:46 am

i think that Obama will be forced to start some small efferts of mud throwing just to keep himself on the offensive...

In other words...everyone mud throws at everyone...its called politics
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Postby joehisa » Mon Oct 06, 2008 4:38 pm

Yes, you're absolutely right, Al-Bob. Both camps have started turning way more negative now. I still feel McCain has reached "Level 3" and Obama is only at "Level 2", but they are both at levels neither has been at before.

Below I'll write some thoughts on this (at what level I feel both camps are at) for anyone interested, but I'd rather keep the main focus of this thread on smears in general -- if they work, what they're like where you are, rather than specifically McCain/Obama. (Still haven't heard from anyone overseas yet!)

But there was another interesting quote today from a senior McCain campaign advisor on the subject of smears (I would've posted it if it had come from the Obama camp too). From today's New York Daily News (Oct 5):

"It's a dangerous road, but we have no choice," a top McCain strategist told the Daily News. "If we keep talking about the economic crisis, we're going to lose."

So I come back to my initial question. Do personal smears work? People are always saying they don't work for them, but if that's so, why do they keep being used?

And to answer about both camps swinging mud...
Within the last day or two:
Palin said:
"Our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists"
"This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America. We see America as a force of good in this world."
To me, that's pretty much calling him unpatriotic. Level 3.

But Obama has now come up to Level 2, where McCain was before, with two new ads:
#1: In response to McCain's ads questioning Obama's ability to lead, McCain now has ads questioning McCain being "irratic."
#2: In response to McCain's ads questioning Obama's ties to corrupt Tony Rezko, Obama now has a new 13-minute web out today examining McCain's ties to corrupt Charles Keating.

To me though, Obama still seems to be one level behind McCain (though as the race goes on, it's anyone's guess if Obama or Biden will start calling McCain unpatriotic in so many words, the way Palin just did Obama the other day).
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Postby lizardgirl » Mon Oct 06, 2008 6:25 pm

I'm just finding it rather amusing. What was it that Palin said, something about Obama 'palling around with terrorists'? I guess him meeting up with Saddam Hussein for brunch the other day was a bad idea. :lol: And now Obama's side has been roaming about for skeletons in McCain's closet and about him hanging around with fraudsters...I mean, let's be honest, if either of these things were explicitly true, wouldn't it be worrying that the people who are getting up to these sorts of things are the ones running for President?

Anyway, back to the original point, the smears theoretically shouldn't work on anyone who has a bit of common sense and realises that both of these politicians are, generally, A-OK in terms of being law-abiding, civil human beings. Personally, stating the positive points about something outweighs the effective of stating the negative points of the opposition.
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Re: Do smears and attacks in campaigns influence you?

Postby Remedy » Sat Jan 18, 2020 1:53 pm

Don't let anyone influence you ! Always make a right choice by reading articles of essays about a sphere that interests you. Whom to turn to? To make a right choice you can rely on reading reviews . A lot of people from all over the world claim it to be the best way ever.
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