Negative campaigning an age-old tradition

Ohio is considered a must-win state for both presidential campaigns, so it has been targeted with a flood of advertisements, not to mention the many campaign visits by Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
Tom Jackson
Nov 5, 2012


But fret not: Negative messages have long been a feature in American politics, said Joel Lieske, a professor of political science at Cleveland State University.  

Lieske pointed to the legendarily dirty 1884 presidential election, when Republicans dug up allegations that the Democratic candidate, Grover Cleveland, had fathered an illegitimate child and chanted, “Ma, ma, where’s my pa?”

Democrats, however, pointed to allegations that Republican James G. Blaine corruptly influenced legislation to help railroad companies. An incriminating letter surfaced in which Blaine wrote, “Burn this letter.”

Democrats chanted, “Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine, the continental liar from the state of Maine, ‘Burn this letter!”

The election may have turned on a negative phrase that backfired.

During a campaign rally, a Blaine supporter described Democrats as the party of “Rum, Romanism and Rebellion.”

Irish voters in swing states found the insult particularly galling and rallied around Cleveland.

Lieske said political scientists who study advertising have found negative ads work, but they don’t win elections by themselves. A candidate must also offer a positive message and provide hope.

For more on this story, and on how negative campaigning has affected local elections, pick up a copy of Monday's Register.



Beats the Ron Paul notion of speaking to the issues.

The media defines the culture - trash talk gets more attention than the real facts.

Sound bites over sound policies.


Amen, hilltop.

Julie R.

I don't ever remember a presidential race being like this one but nevertheless, I sure will be glad when it's over. I'm so sick of getting those phone calls from Mitt Romney saying we can't afford another 4 years of Obama, I could scream. I'm also not stupid enough to believe that Obama is the fault of what happened to this country or stupid enough to think he could fix it in 4 years. I'm also not stupid enough to think that Romney can fix it. Maybe if they walked on water they could but unfortunately neither one of them do.

Sit n Spin

Julie what you are saying is your "not stupid" ? I think we get it, we're not stupid ;) Most of us anyhow.


Obama wants to move us forward...forward to more debt, more people on food stamps, more government regulations, a weaker dollar, and poorer people. As the rich get poorer, so do the poor. The government spends $120,417 per second.


Sam...actually Obama would like to help us solve the debt. That's why he continues to push for a balanced approach of less spending and more incoming revenue (via taxing the rich more). There was a time not long ago when our nation's wealthy were taxed at a 90% rate (compared the the 14% Romney and other multi-millionaires currently pay). The rich stayed rich, but the middle class thrived, as well.

Obama has increased Federal spending by only 1-2% per year since he took office, compared with an average of 8% per year by Bush. So, a lot of the rhetoric you hear from the right is just that: hot air from people who state things that are exactly opposite from the truth, in hopes of getting their own candidate elected. I'm still waiting to hear how Romney can possibly lower the deficit by decreasing incoming revenue (taxes) while increasing spending (+$2 trillion new for defense budget). The loopholes he says he'll close add up to less than 1% of the deficit. As Obama said, the math doesn't add up.

The rich have no worry about getting poor (the average American CEO earns 425 as much as you and I). As soon as we stop redistributing all the money from the 99% to the 1%, we've solved one huge part of what caused the economy to crash under Bush. If there are more people on food stamps, look to 2007-2008 for the cause.

Also, Government regulations aren't necessarily a bad thing. The Wall St. banking crisis and resultant housing crash were directly caused by a LACK of governmental regulations, as was the BP oil spill. If you think that CEOs and corporations will act ethically on their own, without someone overseeing them, then you're a more trusting person than I.

Rich people, of course, are the ones who told us that "trickle-down economics" would work, and that if we help the rich, they'll create more jobs. If that were true, then we would have had millions of new jobs during the Bush administration instead of millions of job losses...


"Today I am pledging to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office. Now, this will not be easy. It will require us to make difficult decisions and face challenges we've long neglected. But I refuse to leave our children with a debt that they cannot repay, and that means taking responsibility right now, in this administration, for getting our spending under control."
Like this promise? Hes got the rest of today to slash the deficit in half.

Darwin's choice

Wow, Do you really believe the dribble that comes out of your mouth? Step back from the koolaid bowl, you're going to drown! Bye Bye Barry!!


Ya know that Kennedy and Clinton both cut the capital gains tax and it did work for them as the economy expanded more persons went to work ergo more income into the treasury and the same also worked for Reagan and Bush as the economy was on the down hill when Clinton left office and Bush did get it going again until 2006 which was the year I think he was handed a democratic congress.,

I guess regulations are ok but if there was to be regulations on the banking sector why did it not include Fanny and Freddie the two companies that shared much of the blame for the problems.

I would like someone to explain to me an economy other than trickle-down. I do realize that the middle class must also spend to grow the economy but where do they get the dollars to do it. I do not think that the poor and middle class really offer many good paying jobs including benefits.

Benefits!!!! Three weeks ago AkzoNobel had an ad in the Register advising they were having a job fair usually indicating they will be hiring several persons and it advised the jobs were long term part time 16-28 hours per week. No Obamacare for them employees and no additional taxes for AkzoNoble so now they had full time 40hours with possibly a decent health plan and now the employees are earning part time pay with no health plan. Seems that Obamacare could cause more persons to be uninsured rather than insurance for more persons as how can the persons really afford health insurance on 28 max. hours per week????


Clinton raised taxes on the rich to create a surplus deficit.


He did raise the taxes and the economy started to slow he then cut the capital gains tax. When he cut the capital gains tax that grew the economy putting more people to work resulting in more revenue

The republican congress took a lot of heat when they shut down the government however it forced Clinton to cut back on the spending and that did help to create the surpluss.

The Big Dog's back

So what are you right wingers going to do after tomorrow when President Obama gets re-elected?


Same as you dog, Go into more debt while he bails out his buddys. Do you really think things will change? Do you think your god will visit you and give you a beer and a free phone? No your taxes will go up and you still will be racist.

Darwin's choice

"snip, snip"


Tomorrow is your chance, American voters. It's time to remember just how horrible things were in 2008, at the depths of the recession. It's time to remember that the same party that caused the recession is now pushing a new candidate with the same old ideas, and the exact same economic plan that caused the recession. The same plan that resulted in a loss of 500,000 jobs per month by the end of 2008. They want you to forget just how BAD things were on their watch, but you do remember, don't you?

If you want to continue the steady recovery, join me in voting for Obama and the middle class. If you want a return to the recession, in which the rich prospered and the rest of us struggled, vote for Plutocrat Romney. It's really that simple...

Darwin's choice

Bye Bye Obama.


Tomorrow.....I am going to vote, like everyone one who is allowed to vote. I will pick up that pencil and fill in the little circles for the persons whom I feel can do the best job in leading. I may write in someone or not depending on what I feel is the right thing to do. It doesn't take long.

I won't tell anyone what my vote is, because according to the law, I don't have to. That is why I vote in secret. My ballot and I are alone in that booth and I get to do something that is given to me...a privilege, a freedom.

I enjoy that. I feel powerful for a few moment in my life. I am exercising a force. I have been doing this same thing for quite some time now and it is thrilling to me to know that when I go in there and pick up that pencil no one can stop me, no one can tell me what to do or who to vote for or what to vote for. That precious moment in there is all mine. The decision is all mine. I love that feeling.

The next day, no matter who wins, or loses, no matter what person gets the job, I have to live with it. We all do. But we all had a minute in time were we all had a say, a chance to make a difference and a place in which to do it.

I hope nobody passed it up. I hope nobody forgot to go and cast their ballot. Because if they did, I sure don't want to hear them complaining about what goes on for the next four years or so. They gave that right up the minute they forgot to go pick up that pencil and spend the few minutes it took to vote. They gave up the right to complain, to argue and to say anything about what goes on. For the few minutes it takes to fill in a few circles, they gave up the right to open their mouths and complain. Such a small price to pay for such a big freedom.


wiredmama, that is a nice description of the voting process and the feeling we can get from it.

It is such a shame that Republicans are trying to deny that basic American right to so many people.

Darwin's choice

No, buckeye, it's a shame the Democrats are abusing the system with their shill voters! See "Acorn"......


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