Does Political Mud Slinging Sway Voters?
The race for the District 14 Florida Senate seat has become a loud battle of mudslinging ads and even a lawsuit.
But one candidate asked the other for a truce today.
Republican Steve Oelrich asked Democrat Perry McGriff to mutually end all negative advertisements for the rest of the campaign.
McGriff responded that he would only agree to stop negative ads if Oelrich would publicly denounce the quote "lies" he says Oelrich has told about him.
This situation sums up the overall tone of this election season.
Millions of dollars are spent putting negative ads on the air, but does it actually sway voters?
Dr. Edmund Kellerman, Senior Lecturer at the University of Florida, said, "What we've seen historically is that people don't like negative advertising and it turns them off to the voting process and causes low voter turn out.
But according to Kellerman, in the last fifteen years there has been a change because of the increase in funding for political advertisements and a change in the tone of political debate.
He said, "The ads don't convince the already convinced whether you're for or against a candidate, but they will convince the fence sitters."
Kellerman said the change in the political climate points to a lack of civility in our culture. He said, "It's one thing to be polarized in your opinions, we've always had that. The difference is how you communicate that."
Kellerman believes that because of all the money involved and the inevitability of negativity surfacing before elections, candidates have no choice but to sling some mud. He said, "Everybody wants to go positive, but regardless of who starts it, once the negativity starts the other people have to respond."
That's why voters have to do their own research.
Kellerman said, "Do some fact checking and don't be swayed by this high tech coverage, just because you see it in a slick commercial doesn't mean it's true."
And as for the future of political advertising, Kellerman doesn't see things getting any better. He said, "I don't know if we can ever get back to the civility of previous decades...I think that era is over."
Negative campaign ads aren't new. In the 1828 Presidential election, supporters of John Quincy Adams distributed pamphlets that recounted what they called the "dirty deeds" of Andrew Jackson-- and the cover featured a series of coffins.
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