A Negative Political Campaign

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The goal of a negative political campaign is to influence voters against a candidate by disseminating false information about them. This is frequently made possible by unfavorable campaign advertisements in the media and on social media, which serve to incite voters' rage. Notably, the unfavorable political commercials frequently succeed. Although some material may be inaccurate, the public impression is considerably impacted, and voters may be persuaded to turn their attention away from the campaign's issues and onto the opponent's unfavorable qualities. The interest in the topic is motivated by the crop of political leaders who are chosen not based on their ideologies and transformative agenda but the populist views of the society.

Literature Review

Negative political campaigning can be dated historically from the times of Cicero and the Roman Republic. In the United States, it can be dated back to John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in 1776. It, therefore, developed into what the modern society is experiencing on slandering their political opponents (Johnson-Cartee and Gary Copeland, 43). The cynical political campaign takes various forms in the community. These include use of advertisements which can either be attack ads or contrast ads. Attack ads portray the opponent in a negative light by highlighting their shortcomings whereas the contrast ads feature both the enemy and candidate and it highlights the positive characteristics of the candidate while providing the negatives of the opponent. Negative political campaigning also takes the form of discreetly leaking damaging information about the enemy to the media thus damaging their reputation.

Negative political campaigning is distractive as it undermines democracy. It also shows both candidates in a negative light as it makes the voters have negative emotions. Such campaigns lead to low voter turnout as many voters may put off the voting process. It can also be beneficial as negative characteristics are more salient and well-remembered therefore, it can be damaging to the opponent. It can, therefore, work both ways for a candidate. This is because it can either increase their popularity or not. Negative political campaigning affects the society as it damages the process of democracy. Thus, preventing the citizens from exercising their democratic rights. The theory of pluralism focuses on stability and gradual change. It states the slogan of the government of, by and for the people (Gilens and Benjamin, p. 577). Because the government has to be elected by the people to become more favorable to the voters some politicians prefer using negative campaigning to look more appealing. The elite theory states that power is based among the elite in the society because they are the ones who control the societal economy. The, therefore, use all means to hold onto power (Higley 79). Negative campaigning works best for them as they focus on defamatory remarks towards their opponents.

Individual Research

Scheduling interviews with one political commentator and one political scientist from the States of Texas and California constitute the individual research segment. James Williamson and Theresa John are a political commentator and political scientist respectively who have experience in observation of the American elections and deducing the campaign issues that drive voters into choosing their political leaders. The two are in agreement that the parochial partisan politics that is driven by some states being marked red and other blue tend to push the American politics from issues to partisan affiliation. Mudslinging of the political party or independent candidate tens to blind the public from having a focus on what the candidate may deliver and deliver and instead focus on why he or she may not be popular. The new issue that arose from the interviews is the biasness that some media houses have despite the social influence that the media has to the American public. What I already knew concerning the issue is the role that the politicians tend to play in swaying the public through the purchase of prime time advertisement ads. However, having information on the biasness that the media houses may have is a foreign concept that has only been learned through the interview. The other new idea that has been learned is the ineffectiveness of the negative political ads and campaigns in negatively inflating the voter turnout. However, where the negative campaign is laced with some aspect of truth, the campaign remains memorable and plays a crucial role in affecting the political choices that the voters make. Reference made to the “You didn’t make that” advert by the political analysis points to the extent that the Republicans manipulated the speech by President Obama when he informed business communities that only the government built the roads and railways. However, the campaign had been misconstrued to mean that Obama did not appreciate the role of business community, thus, lowering his ratings ahead of his second term.


Based on an interview with one American student, the negative political campaign is a routine process that is often used to win over the swing votes and the undecided voters ahead of polls. The interviewee thinks that the negative public campaigns tend to have some aspects of truth in them with the typical American voter not being able to sieve the fact from the fallacy. The sources of the negative adverts are the political consultants and the campaign managers out to solidify their political domination over their opponents. The solution to the misinformation is the objectivity of the media when highlighting political issues. The media needs to be neutral and ensure that their coverage and political analysis are objective and analyzes the speeches and manifesto of politicians on a contextual basis.

Application of Sociological theories

Pluralism theory and Elite theory are the two major theories that have been used in the literature review and further relevant to the information deduced from individual research and attitude of American voters. The pluralism theory establishes that the society of made of different classes of an individual with conflicting interests and consensus on the democratic traditions of the political systems. The choice of the theory is based on the affirmation by one of the political pundits on the recognition that political stakeholders agree that some voters may not agree with their ideologies, but they must convince a majority of their voters to buy into their thinking. Such would entail mudslinging of their political opponents.

The elite theory establishes that the elite class of the society view power to be an end in itself and would use any avenue to get into power. Therefore, the elite level tends to use any institution that has the potential of manipulating the opinions of the masses on buying into their political ideologies and being party to their political camps. The choice of the theory is based on the individual research that establishes that the media is a critical institution that is owned by the elite class, which the elite class uses to manipulate the voters into voting for them. The elites are the influential persons in the society and could be ranked as the political kingmakers, business owners, media owners and the senior politicians. The elite class has the wit and the resources to manipulate the views of the public. The beneficiaries of the political system are often the elite class who get to work with the governments and win business contracts or work with the parties to manipulate the parties in their favor.


The experience that is drawn from the research is enlightening. The positive feeling that has been gained from the study is the ability of some American voters to recognize a negative campaign ad and instead make rational choices. For example, about the “You didn’t make that” against President Obama, the average American voter could still discern and vote for President Obama. The negative feeling is the significance of the negative political campaign ads in manipulating the choices of the undecided voters few days to the polls. Most of the negative campaign ads are often sent to the media houses to be aired during the prime time. My negative perception of the negative political adverts and the previous socialization influences my understanding of negative political ads being deceptive and ought to be manned owing to the misinformation that they perpetuate. While the layperson recognizes that the ads have some truth in them, I perceive that the information in the ads is distorted. If I am to do a new thing, I will review the political campaign ads over the next three electioneering period with the intent to determine how they influence voter perceptions.

Works Cited

Gilens, Martin, and Benjamin I. Page. "Testing theories of American politics: Elites, interest groups, and average citizens." Perspectives on politics 12.3 (2014): 564-581.

Higley, John. "Elite theory in political sociology." IPSA International Conference, Montreal. 2008.

Johnson-Cartee, Karen S., and Gary Copeland. Negative political advertising: Coming of age. Routledge, 2013.

March 23, 2023

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